I came out to my nan the other night. It was simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming. Overwhelming because I had finally done it; this was something that had been on my to-do list in the back of my mind, and it became more pressing since my grandparents came to stay with us. This was the last hurdle before I was fully out, if you will. The main criteria for this one (I say ‘this one’ because do we ever stop coming out?) was that I wanted to tell them in person, and not over a video call, which is how we usually communicate, seeing as they live in another country. I’ve heard their rhetoric before, and it’s not pleasant (“God, I hope you don’t turn out gay”– I’m pretty sure good old Nan was suspecting something when she said this a few years ago.) The traditional values in their upbringing and society at the time equate to deep-rooted homophobia. It was underwhelming because I casually slipped it into a conversation, and she reacted differently (see: better) than I thought she would. Translated from Cantonese, it went as follows:
(talking about my future)
Nan: Just make sure you’re careful, and don’t get tricked by men who want your hard-earned money.
(cue the Mario Kart star theme as I seize this golden opportunity)
Me: I won’t get tricked by men, Nan, I’m not into them.
Nan: …If you’re not into men, what are you into? Women?
Nan: Ah, god, really?
Me: I don’t know if I’m into men, I’m probably not. But I know I like women.
Nan: Well, you can’t reject all opportunities with men, you’ve got to at least try.
Me: I’m not opposed to anything. It’s just that I’ve never been attracted to a guy; if one came along who I liked, I would try it out, just like I would with women, you know?
(I realise there’s a very binary view of gender here which I do not support, but the poor thing is only just finding out that her granddaughter is a homosexual, so I thought I’d save that for another day.)
But I like women.
Nan: Hmm… who would take care of the family?
Me: Well, both of us. Just like in a heterosexual couple, ideally both the man and the woman share responsibilities, right? Plus, the most important thing is that I like them, and they like me, don’t you agree?
Nan: Well, that’s true… man, that means I won’t have any great-grandchildren to dote on.
Me: It doesn’t mean that; there are many ways to go about it.
Nan: Like surrogacy?
Me: Well, sure, but I was thinking more like sperm donors or adopting. Not that I want children.
Nan: It’s a waste, you know.
(She meant more than just not wanting children.)
Me: Like I said, the most important thing is that I’m happy and they’re happy, right?
Nan: It’s a bit disgusting though, isn’t it?
(I laugh in shock, I thought we were making headway!)
Me: What do you mean, ‘it’s disgusting’? It’s just two people loving each other.
Nan: Yeah, you’re right… I’m just a bit–
Nan: That’s right, traditional. As a person, I am quite open-minded… I guess I need to move on with the times, at the end of the day. It’s not up to me to accept or not accept it, if that’s the way of the world.
Me: Exactly, that’s the way of the world.
Nan: Man, no great-grandchildren…
(I roll my eyes and laugh again)
And that was the gist of it. It was difficult for me to write this piece and put it out there, but I wrote it because I found the scenario a bit funny, and I wrote it for those who have yet to come out to their family members for fear of a negative reaction. I feared that they would treat me differently, ostracise me. I feared that they won’t come to my wedding (if I ever want to have one). But I did not want them to leave this world not knowing that their granddaughter is gay. The goal of reaching a mutual understanding and maintaining non-judgment was on my mind throughout the conversation, as I know that unfamiliar concepts can be scary, and I don’t blame her for her preconceptions. All I needed was for her to hear me out, and I’m fortunate that she did. Though I despise that her acceptance renders me fortunate, as it should be the status quo. (Also, do not fear; I have informed her that I’ve written this article, telling her the purpose of it as stated above, and she was unbothered. I think she’s forgotten about it by now.)
My nan has treated me the same so far. I think she may have hidden this information away in a closet somewhere. But at least she can’t say I didn’t tell her! Now, on to my grandad.
(eight days later)
Ha! I just told him. He said: “Oohoo!”. He’s a man of few words, and I’m now someone with fewer worries.