I came out to my mother in a letter. I was twenty-eight. “I was born this way,” I wrote, following with the most shattering high note of self-loathing I can think of: “If there were a straight pill,” I lamented, “I’d swallow it faster than you can say the word ‘gay.’”
I didn’t mean either of these things. I said them because I knew they would elicit pity and absolve my mother of the belief that her parenting was to blame for my same-sex attractions. It worked. Five years later, my mother continues to talk about my lesbianism as if it were a genetic defect like Down syndrome—a parallel she’s actually drawn—because clearly, in her mind, no one would choose such a detestable and challenging state of being.