Coming Out (of Innocence)

In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11th), we are pleased to bring to you a poem by Alex Marrone.  This poem was published in the St Cloud State University Kaleidoscope publication for 2015.  The author has graciously given us permission to share it with our blog community.

I remember the first time I saw my mother kiss another woman

I was six

She asked me if I understood

I thought I was supposed to say “no”

So I did

My mother said that they were dating

I was upset but not because she was dating a woman

But because I had to share my mother with someone else

I remember a time when I believed that everyone was as accepting and unquestioning as I was

I remember when my stepsister asked if I knew what the magnet on the fridge meant

It said: “Eat in? I’d rather eat out.”

When she asked, I realized I really didn’t know

So naturally I lied to be cool like any eight year old would

I remember a time when I didn’t get gay jokes

I remember my step siblings warning me not to talk about our family at school

I asked what they meant

Harsh faces replied, “You know, about our moms”

But they wouldn’t tell me why

So I ignored them

I was nine

I remember a time when I believed my siblings’ fears of being found out were silly

I remember when that word knocked the wind out of me

“Lesbo!”

I was ten

I remember what the climbing bars on the playground felt like pressed into my back

I never admitted again that I had two mothers

And I never forgot what real friends looked like because I only had two that year

I remember the reality of ignorance hitting me like hard rain hits window panes,

Relentlessly

I remember when I met my first openly gay friend

He was so loving and accepting

I thought I loved him

But what did I know,

I was thirteen

I remember when I came out to him as bi

He hugged me

We cried

“I remember when I came out to him as bi

He hugged me

We cried”

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I remember the acceptance and fear mixing together as we fought for gay rights

In our junior high hallways

I remember the girl that followed me around school for weeks

We began passing notes back and forth in health class

That was the day I knew what courage felt like

I asked her if she liked me

She did

I was fifteen

I remember being terrified I would lose my friends

I remember what it felt like to kiss her soft lips

I wanted desperately to hold her hand in school

But I remember too well what the climbing bars felt like pressed into my back

And I remember what happens to gay boys named Matthew in small towns

I remember when I came out to my mother

I was eighteen

We were at the Gay Pride Festival

She laughed and asked why I hadn’t told her sooner

She knew the girl that followed me around was special

I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want the burdens she had

I didn’t want to defend my sexuality to our family like she did

I didn’t want to be another gay kid tied to a fence post in a small town

But I came out to her anyway because I remember what acceptance felt like

I remember the pride I felt every time I saw a rainbow

I remember the outcry from the unimaginable brutality against Matthew

I remember the 6 year old who believed that everyone was as accepting and

unquestioning as she was

And I remember finding hope

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