I Want To Come Out To My Mom. The Show "Supernatural" Could Help.
At this point, I really just have to say it: I am twenty years old, a Sagittarius, and bisexual.
Bisexual, as in I am into both the boys and the girls. Either, or. Indiscriminately. I can talk to you about the pitfalls of liking boys or the pitfalls of liking girls, going by your own preference, and including my own personal anecdotes and tips. It’s a pretty neat thing, actually. I’m like a well of wisdom, or something. I’ve been aware of my liking boys and girls for a while now. But it’s only in recent years that I’ve been able to understand what that meant, and how society would define it. And it’s only in the past few months that I’ve realized very, very few people know I’m bisexual.
Why does this matter? Because my sexuality is a big part of who I am. To me, it’s an ingrained biological fact, like how my hair is ridiculously curly, or my feet are a Converse women’s size nine.
As a freshman at UCLA, I have so many gay friends who are coming out for the first time. They’ve known they’re gay and yet they’ve never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend. No one has questioned them. I choke up when they talk to me about how glad they are that they came out, or about the cute guy they’re crushing on. A good friend of mine just had his first kiss. I cried because I was so happy for him. Seeing their smiles, their relief… I want that.
Let me talk about my mother. I love my mom. We’re very much alike. We’re into the same genres of movies and books. I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. She loves me.
But in high school, during my constant bisexual freak-out, I remember this one time we were discussing sexuality. Don’t ask me why, or about who; it could’ve been because of a news story or a song on the radio. What I remember very clearly is asking her, “Mom, have you ever thought that I could be gay?”
Instant response. No. I stared, laughed a little: “Not even a little?” She shook her head. “Nope.”
She wasn’t trying to be malicious, but her immediate denial was alarming to me. It certainly didn’t help me feel any less crazy.
Like I said, my bisexuality is just an inherent part of who I am. So my mom telling me no, you are not gay, was like her looking at me and saying nah, your hair isn’t brown. It was unsettling, and, honestly, hurt a little. For her sake, I must reiterate: no one knew I was bisexual at this point. I was the only one. It wasn’t her fault that I felt gutted, nor was it her fault that I didn’t correct her assumption. I just didn’t know what to say. I wondered, for the millionth time, if I was just confused.
That’s why I can’t come out to my mom. Because I’m afraid she won’t believe me. I love her, and I don’t want to put her in that position, and I don’t want to wonder, even slightly, if she doesn’t love me as much as she really does. But now that I’m out to my closest friends, even to my female roommates (who do not give a single fig, which is amazing for me), the desire to come out to my mom is persistent. Figuring out how is a whole other story. But I’ve been thinking about how this can happen, and I think I have an idea.
Last summer, my mother and I started to watch this little show called “Supernatural.” If you’re on tumblr, you’ve heard of it. It’s about two brothers fighting demons and angels and every monster in between. And my mom and I love it. We’re hooked. We watched eight seasons in about ten weeks. It was nuts. And even though I’m in Southern California and she’s home in Seattle, we both sit down on Tuesday nights to watch this show. We text and email our reactions, sometimes in real-time.
Enter, the “Supernatural” character, Dean Winchester. I love Dean. He’s strong and kind and funny and sad and a million other things. The character has been well-developed over nine seasons, which is really special. And you know, I look at Dean, with all his flaws and faults, and likes and dislikes, and I see myself. And here’s the thing: some people think Dean is bisexual.
I’m not going to get into why, because that would be draining and I really don’t have the patience nor a desire to do the research. But people think he is. Seriously. It would be great, for me, if Dean did turn out to be a little bit gay, because my mom firmly believes Dean is a hundred percent straight.
I brought this up once last summer, after I started paying attention to the homoerotic subtext of the show (which is definitely there, come on people). If Dean is queer: he’s someone who has repressed his sexuality all his life, who has probably been questioning for a long time, who has felt ashamed of it, who just doesn’t know what to do about it, or how to come out to his closest relative and friend, his own brother. If Dean is queer, I’m looking at him and seeing a reflection of myself.
So, to my mom, I said: “Do you ever think Dean could be a little gay?” And, just like that time I asked her about myself, she said “No.” Or, more specifically, “What? No. No. Not at all.”
To reiterate: she could be a hundred percent right. At this point in the show, Dean is straight. He’s had relationships with only women. He watches a ton of porn featuring women. So it’s really no fault of my mother’s to see all this and honestly not think, for even a second, that Dean is anything but heterosexual. But you know, she’s always thought that I am only, absolutely, heterosexual. Dean is not an open book by any means. He’s mysterious and closed-off and hates talking about his feelings. This reminds me an awful lot of me.
This brings me, at last, to the point: I want Dean to come out, so I can come out.
Bisexuals are grossly underrepresented in media. Gays and lesbians have made enormous strides in recent years. Which is wonderful. I love it. But bisexuals are still very closeted in mainstream television. The first time I saw a bisexual character was in “Glee,” in the form of Brittany, the ditzy cheerleader who didn’t have a clue about anything.
She didn’t have a clue about anything. My bisexual representative was the laughing-stock, the comic relief of a show that routinely gets dark and heavy. This is not good representation. Because it presents bisexuals as being way out there, weird, maybe even precious, like they’re starving for attention so of course they’re going to make out with their fellow cheerleader. Seriously?
Bi-erasure is a real thing, and it’s alive and well. I watch a ton of movies and television, and seeing a bisexual person is an insanely rare thing. To see a bisexual person portrayed as, you know, a person, is even rarer. To see a bisexual person go through the process of coming out is, well… virtually non-existent.
A show that actually portrayed a bisexual character’s coming out: “Grey’s Anatomy,” in the form of Callie. Callie was straight for many seasons, even married a man, before falling in love with a woman. She was confused, and worried, and in denial, before finally coming to terms with her sexuality. She’s now in a longterm relationship with a woman, and no one so much as blinks an eye. She even met up with her former mother-in-law, who was immensely supportive and thrilled that Callie was so happy.
If Dean were to come out, it’d be a truly unique coming out experience on television. Nine seasons of subtext leading to this very macho, masculine character admitting that hey, he could go either way. I want Dean to come out, to illustrate how a repressed homosexuality can be present and just very well-hidden, so that my mother can see how it’s a real thing.
I don’t want anyone to think that I’m unfairly putting a lot of strain on “Supernatural” over other shows just because I want to. It’s because of how my mom and I bonded over this show, how important it is to us. Because while my mom loves the show for its angels and supernatural creatures, she really loves the characters. They’re what keeps her coming back, week after week. Just a few nights ago, she described Dean as a “tragic hero.” She pays attention to his trajectory and the choices he makes, and analyzes these decisions to come to an idea of who he is.
I want him to come out so she can say, “Huh. Wow. Okay.” And then maybe I can turn to her and say, “So you never even thought… maybe?” And then maybe she’ll say, “I don’t know. I have to think about it again.” And there will be me, speaking as calmly as I can. I’ll say, “Dean is a lot like me.”
Maybe she’ll think about that and realize what I’m saying. And maybe she’ll believe me.
Shea McGlynn is an aspiring screenwriter from Seattle, who hoards used books, and worries about things outside of her control. She is almost done with her first year of college at UCLA, where she continues to be undecided about pretty much everything. You can find her wasting time on tumblr or twitter, as @soirshea.