Jamaican mother’s wisdom on coming out

Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson and his mother (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson and his mother (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)

Recently a Caribbean LGBTI youth asked me for advice on how to come out to his parents. He is financially dependent on them, and there is the real threat of being disowned. He suspects that they know, but they also say very homophobic things around him.

As my mom was/is part of a very fundamentalist church in Jamaica that preaches vehemently against homosexuality, I asked her how she would have wanted to be told that I am gay.

Her thoughts are below:

  1. Start with the mother, and tell her before you are in a relationship. Otherwise, she will blame your partner for “making” you gay.
  2. Give your mother material to read about homosexuality, and then tell her that out of respect you want her to hear it from you, not other people.
  3. If you are helpful around the house, your mother will see past your homosexuality quicker and accept your authenticity sooner. So, keep doing your thing, even after coming out.
  4. Your parents will be more concerned about what other people will say, and so be prepared to try to help them work through that.

At the end of the day, most mothers know that their child is gay, even if they are in denial.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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