From the day I signed the contract to publish Venus, I knew who those ten copies were for. Certainly one was for myself, but the rest were for my dearest family. I wrote the dedication many months ago, and while I found much of the backend, behind-the-scenes stuff particularly difficult (condensing a 65,000 word novel into a 50 word blurb was a monumental struggle for me) the dedication and acknowledgment weren’t.
So many things have changed in the last five years, and while it may seem like a long time in my head and heart, it’s really not in the grand scheme of my life. Five years ago, as I prepared for the rest of that life, I was faced with the decision to come out to my family. I’d been selectively out for several years before that, since the age of 21, with friends and their families. But I knew that if I wanted my own to be involved in my new and happy life, they needed to know. I needed them to know regardless of the consequences.
I'm not unlike many LGBT’s when I say that my parents were not the sort that would understand why I ‘chose’ to love women. My mother was a devout Christian (as was I- for a time- by default) and my father was a very (I mean VERY) conservative Republican. When I found myself, my partner, and my identity I just knew that I would never be able to come out to them and it nearly ate me alive from the inside. Therapy, medication, and shame followed me everywhere I went. Through denial, avoidance, and lies I kept two very different lives. One was carefree, gay, and in love, the other was serious, straight, and heartbroken- a plight that so many of us have once or still do live with.
But enough of that… this is a happy story. So, I'm sitting here looking at this gorgeous box of books with my name imprinted all over them, and I read the acknowledgement- officially, this time. “Awwww,” I say. “I'm so darn sentimental and witty.” It’s a trait most definitely learned from my family of sarcastically humorous over-sharers (or is that just me? Either way…) So, I'm reading and thinking. Thinking about how five years ago, none of this would EVER have happened, until those two days where my life changed for the better, forever.
My Mom came over for dinner and as she does, she found her comfy place on the couch to watch some random TV show she’d probably seen a thousand times. I stood in the kitchen with my partner and we both knew what was about to happen. We knew that she knew that we knew, it was just saying it out loud. I smiled nervously and headed off into the known unknown. I laid down on the couch with Mom and snuggled close as she stroked my hair. “The calm before the storm,” I thought to myself. As I often did, and still do, I made some ridiculously humorous and irrelevant statement to break the tension before I said, “Mom, you know we are together, right?” And without missing a beat she responded with my full name and “Of course I know that. Now when are you getting married?” After the loud disembodied laughter from the kitchen finally died down, we announced the date.
That was easy, right? Sure, in hindsight. But the next day was “The Dad’s” turn (No really, that’s what he calls himself.) My Dad and I are crazy close, maybe it’s our mutual appreciation of a lovely lady features, or maybe it’s something less weird like, photography or art skills. However, there was no turning back. I was about to risk our relationship and that closeness for an unspeakable freedom. I had to, for me and for my future. I went alone to their house; after all, everyone already knew that she was gay. I sat nervously on the couch. I could see in her eyes that my stepmom knew what was about to go down. She smiled softly and I started to cry even before the first word. It took him a sec, but Dad finally caught on to the importance of what was coming and turned off the TV. (Yes, everything happens around the TV in my family.) They stared at me, waiting for me to speak. Dad said, “Just say it, kiddo.” My stomach turned. I took a deep breath and spoke. “I'm gay.” I told them that she and I were together and thick silence filled the room. No movement, no sound for what seemed like an eternity. And then… the dog farted- a loud rumbling no-holds-barred dog fart right in the middle of the living room. She looked up at us, sniffed around, and laid right back down. And just like that we all were instantly jolted from the solemn moment into hysterical laughter.
Did my life changing moment just get upstaged by a gaseous Newfoundland? Yes, yes it did. To this day, I am grateful to the Universe for giving us all that classic and perfect moment. As for my sisters? Eh, they already knew because, well… because one is older and just knows everything and the other is younger and won’t stop asking until she actually knows everything.
Where was I going with all this? Oh, right. Five years ago, I came out to my family and today I am reading a book dedicated to the most important, loving, and understanding people in my life- my family. Like I said before, SO much has changed since then- love, loss, and change. But the coolest and most awesome-est thing about it all is how proud and supportive and loving they are. They all may not read it (at least not the good parts, *wink wink*), but they will and do tell everyone in the world who will listen that I, TinaMichele, their daughter, sister, aunt, and friend is not only an out and proud Lesbian, but she also writes steamy romance books about sexy girls.
It not only gets better… it gets GREATER!
Much Love to you and my family!