Search form

Scroll To Top

I Came Out of the Closet in the Worst Way Ever. How Do I Fix It?


In this week’s installment of our advice column, ¡Hola Papi!, John Paul Brammer talks to one letter writer about his own cringe-worthy coming-out.

Welcome to !Hola Papi!, the advice column where John Paul Brammer helps people work through their anxieties, fears, and life's queerest questions. If you need advice, send him a question at

!Hola Papi!

I came out to my mom at the age of 16, and I really regret how I did it.

We were in the middle of a pretty big and upsetting fight. I don't want to go into details, but it was a more serious issue than typical teen girl cattiness. As the argument was winding down, I impulsively told her I was a lesbian. We both cried.

I ended up coming out to the rest of my family at 17 years of age in a much better environment. My whole family (including my mom) has been nothing but supportive and kind, but it feels like every time I'm with my mom, I remember all the awful emotions and memories from when I came out to her, and I feel like it's taking a toll on my relationship with her.

Is there any way I can sort of retroactively fix this issue?

Out With a Bang

Howdy, OWB!

First of all, kudos for using your coming out moment as a tactical nuke mid-argument. I have to admit, I'm not sure what you're upset about. I wish I had come out as gay in the middle of a heated back-and-forth and shut down the fight with it. But maybe that's the telenovela in me jumping out.

In any case, yes, coming out is a super important moment and it's nice when it's special. But I don't think we should try to make it perfect or formalize it like straight people do with promposals and gender reveals and such. That's why nobody likes straight people. They make a fuss about the most boring things. Just take your pictures, have your dinner at Red Lobster, and go!

Ahem. Your coming out moment, clumsy as it might have been, was fine. The most important things all ended up OK. You let the people close to you know who you are, and they accepted you. It sounds like your issue is more about The Cringe(tm), those moments in life where we handled something indelicately and very publicly. These moments just sort of live in our heads for the rest of our natural lives until we die. So I get why you're less than thrilled.

It's never fun to acquire a Cringe(tm). I have one for you, if it will make you feel better. I was in the eighth grade, and I was selected to represent Yeehaw, USA, at the model United Nations at the University of Oklahoma. I don't remember why. I think the history teacher pulled my name out of a hat. I was to write an official resolution as if I were a nation, and then try to get the other nations, represented by other children in business suits, to vote for it in a giant conference room where we were all assembled.

For one eminently problematic reason or another, I was given the nation of Iraq. We were given a binder full of last year's resolutions to get the hang of things, and a binder full of this year's resolutions to deliberate over them. To address the conference room, we would lift up our nameplates with our nation's name on them, walk to the center of the space, and speak our piece. Under deliberation, I thought, was a resolution to protect Japan or some island nation from tsunamis caused by underwater nuclear detonations.

I immediately raised my "Iraq" plate and made my way to the center of the room to light into Japan slash the random white kid from Tuscaloosa for putting forth such an idiotic proposal. I was extremely brilliant, see, and I knew nuclear weapons couldn't cause tsunamis. Only seismic waves could do such a thing! Eager to show off my knowledge, I ripped into the poor freckled child before me. Reader, I went off. But mid-sentence, the adult in the room, the head of the fake UN, stopped me. "Is the representative from Iraq aware of the resolution under deliberation?"

Literally the entire room cracked up, because I had been popping off about a resolution that wasn't even on the table. I had brought the wrong binder with me that day, meaning I was some random Mexican representing Iraq, shrieking about earthquakes and nuclear weapons while everyone else was trying to discuss an infrastructure bill in Poland. For the rest of the trip, other nations warned me to look out for tsunamis.

Most people are pretty stupid, OWB. Like, literally 99.999% of us. There's Dolly Parton, and then there's us. We do funny, embarrassing things because we're dumb. We litter our lives with these unfortunate moments, and then we let them torture us. But I think we have a choice. We can repress them and hate ourselves, or we can learn from them and laugh at ourselves.

It's pretty funny to me that you lowered the boom on your mother by coming out as lesbian so you could win a fight. I find that iconic behavior. I get why you don't care for it very much, but you can't retroactively take it back or "fix it." What's done is done and cannot be undone. You have to live with it now. But on the bright side, you have plenty of control over the "living with it" part.

If it were bugging me, I would just tell my mother: Hey, remember when I came out during that argument? I think about that a lot, and I wish it had gone differently. How do you feel about it? But I suspect your mother knows that you're young and that young people do things like that sometimes. It's not inherently a bad thing! It's just a thing.

There is no evidence that nuclear "tsunami bombs" can actually cause tsunamis!

Con Mucho Amor,
The Delegate from Iraq / Papi

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

John Paul Brammer