Socially loud! Can you hear us?



Inviting In: Victor Scotti

I struggle with this notion of “coming out” because we really continuously come out–not just to other people, but to ourselves. It's easy to center the beautiful narratives of love, support, and things 'getting better', but I'm taking some time to think about folk who were forced out of the closet, continue to be unsupported, or who don't feel that they can walk in their truth. I want to lift them up today, and let them know that they have the support of those of us in a position of privilege to share our narratives. And, if my own sharing can help just one person, it’s not in vain.

There are so many laughs, doubts, fears, and blessings that led up to me getting my first apartment in Oakland, California in August 2013–and being in the city a full month and a half before my job started. Since I had to move into the space only two days after I learned I was approved for it, I hopped on the flight from Chicago Midway with two suitcases under 40 pounds because Southwest. My newly-retired parents–bless their hearts–offered to drive my Mommy's car that she was giving me down from Chicago to Oakland. They said they would make a week and a half long trip out of it. Shout out to #BlackLove and having someone you want to be in a car with for a week and a half… 🙂 Anyway, before I knew it, here they were in sunny Oakland. We had a wonderful visit–we explored my new city, we had an early birthday dinner for me, and we got a chance to bond. But, something was gnawing at me the entire time.

That summer of 2013, I read the gift that is For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home edited by Keith Boykin. There is a story in there about a young man who tells his parents he is gay by bringing home his boyfriend to meet them. His parents then freak out, and they don’t speak for 10 years, even though he ends up buying a house, with his now husband, right down the street. This story shook me to my core. I couldn’t imagine my parents missing 10 years of my life. I didn’t know what their reaction would be, but I decided that I would not live on my own in a new place with the same mistruth about my identity in play. Besides, I had already taken a major leap and told some of my friends, frat brothers, and mentors already, so the cat was out of the bag–and for real, for real, it already had been.

So, in Victor fashion, I begin to write a letter to them while they were there. I ended up finishing that letter on September 12th–more than a few days after they left. I felt much lighter afterward, like a weight had been lifted. I realized I had kept so much of my truest self to the chest for so long, that it was a literal relief to share that load, if only with a piece of paper. I decided that I would share this note with my parents on my birthday because I wanted to start my 23rd year off fresh. When my Dad called me on my birthday the next day, I was so nervous. He could tell, so he asked me what was wrong. I told him that I had emailed something to him and Mommy that I wanted them to read together and to call me back after. I was so nervous while I waited for them to call. I didn’t know what they would say or do, but deep, deep down, I knew that my parents have always loved me unconditionally. But, in the moment, I was freaking out. And, when they called back, the very first thing my Dad said was that they loved me–period. I ended up chatting with my Mommy and sister more in-depth that day, but those three words, coming from the most important man in my life, meant the world to me.

Because it was my birthday, and I was in a new place with no friends, I researched places to go for dinner. I wanted to have a nice, intimate solo dinner because I was proud of myself for sharing my truth. There were a few folks I could've reached out to in the city, but I refused to spend time with anyone who couldn't understand the gravity and weight of the day for me. The place I found was Picán, and I made a reservation for one. Friends who know me know I love that spot, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared with them why. Ironically—but not really, because God—a good friend reached out without even knowing it was my birthday that day. I shared with him all that happened, and my plans for a solo dinner and he was intent on me not being alone and, as I would come to learn, he understood all my feelings perfectly. So, not only did he come with me to dinner, but we also went to Bench and Bar, the Oakland’s only Black gay club–could write another post about this topic, lol–afterward and brunch the next day in the San Francisco.

The story doesn’t end there. I wish I could say that everything “got better”, but it didn’t. While I thought that telling other folk was the end all be all, it is really unlearning all the ways I was taught to render myself unloveable that became the challenge. It’s taken lots of reflection, prayer, conversations, time, and self-love…and more rounds of conversations, time, self-love, and some relationships, to get to the comfort I have now–which is by no means the pinnacle of joy and self-confidence. However, what I’m armed with now is the deep understanding that life is a journey. And, if you consciously choose to show up authentically sans fear and judgement of self and others, you will evolve. Life is waiting for us to live it. As the Black elders say, you have to keep living. I would add to that that we have to keep growing, keep learning, and keep praying.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.