Pride Month occurs in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held across the globe to recognise the impact the LGBTQ+ community has had in the world and to attempt to create a more inclusive society.
Dudu*, 27-year-old lesbian is among many who have raised their flags virtually. She also decided to celebrate differently this year by disclosing her sexual orientation to her parents.
This is her story:
I've always contemplated telling my extremely religious parents about my sexuality because I knew their views regarding homosexuality. I have the kind of parents who believe people choose to be gay or lesbian. They believe homosexuality is a sin and it's a way young people rebel against their elders and religion.
Growing up, I instantly knew that I was attracted to girls. I tried dating boys to see if I would develop feelings for them, but I didn't. My first serious relationship was at the age of 20 in university and it lasted for two years. After breaking up with my then girlfriend, I was single for two years. My parents would always ask when I would introduce them to their son-in-law. It became worse when my childhood friends started getting married and I became "the single friend who never has a date".
It even got to a point where my mother would try and hook me up with someone from the church she attended. A part of me understood where they were coming from, but the other part of me was terrified to tell them the truth about my sexuality.
After graduating from the University of Cape Town, I moved to Johannesburg for work. I met my current girlfriend at a work event and we just connected. It felt like I knew her before and she was the partner I had prayed for.
Fast-forward to a few months later, we started dating and decided to move in together. She met my parents after a year of dating when they came to visit me in Johannesburg. They obviously didn't know that she was my girlfriend; they just thought she was a friend. They loved her, my dad even said she is well-mannered and a good friend to have. Little did he know…
My relationship with my girlfriend has been the best part of my life. We even want to start a family and buy property together, but I knew I had to tell my parents about my sexuality and about our relationship before making those big decisions. Her parents already knew about us and gave us their blessings. So, on the 1st of June, I decided that I couldn't live an inauthentic life anymore and that I needed to come out to my parents.
June was even befitting as it's Pride Month, and what better way to celebrate than live my truth openly? I finally gathered the strength that morning and video called them.
After telling my parents, my mom burst into tears. She kept on shaking her head and was in disbelief. My father, on the other hand, was quite calm and said: "I always knew, mntanami, and it's okay".
I then went on to tell them about my girlfriend and as expected, they were shocked. After the endless questions and explaining to them, they both said that as parents, their one wish is to see their children happy and if I am happy then there's nothing they can do. After the 45-minute emotional call, I was relieved and it felt like a heavy burden had been lifted off my shoulders.
My mother is, however, still having great difficulty coming to terms with me coming out. I even foresee her asking me to go to church with her when I visit. I had to realise that as hard as it was for me to tell her about my lesbianism, it was probably just as hard for her to hear the message. It's very likely that she is mourning the image of who she thought I would be (a happy heterosexual married woman). We do, however, still speak over the phone, but it's still a bit awkward.
For anyone who is considering coming out to their parents, I would say do it! You need to live your truth, but also be ready to accept that your parents might not understand and that it might change your relationship with them.