Angelica Ross and her mother are here to tell a different kind of coming out story.
In a recent episode of Black Women OWN the Conversation, the star of Pose and the upcoming season of American Horror Story shared a deeply personal story about how coming out as trans at 17 changed the relationship between the two women. The program — which airs on Oprah Winfey’s network, OWN — is a chance for Black women from all backgrounds to come together and speak with each other on “love and relationships, motherhood, beauty, and mind, body and soul,” according to a press release.
Ross, who has taken part in several previous discussions in the series, was asked about how receptive her family was of her transition. She recalled that her mother, a devout Christian, was “definitely not accepting at all in the beginning.”
“My mom had her ideas that were fueled from the Bible and what the Bible says,” she said.
Nearly in tears, Ross’ mother — who was seated in the audience — explained that she struggled with her daughter’s coming out for a long time. She admitted that she believed her daughter would go to hell and fell into a deep depression. At one point, she even advised her daughter to take her own life, threatening that if Ross didn’t do it, she would take hers instead.
“It’s always preached: ‘You’re going to hell for this, you’re going to hell for that,’” Ross’ mother confessed. “I wasn’t knowledgeable. I didn't know… And I hate that I missed so many years out of her life.”
But after many years of work and reconciliation, the two have gotten to a place of support and affirmation. Ross’ mother claimed her turning point was seeing an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in which a mother who had recently lost her LGBTQ+ son had a moment of revelation after going to a Pride event. “I gotta do something,” she thought to herself, “because that could be my kid.”
“My mother and I have a very loving and healed relationship,” Ross said.
It’s extremely rare that we get to see stories of trans people being loved and supported by their families, especially religious families and families of color. One of the most common trans tropes is telling the story of how hard transition is for family members (e.g., Gun Hill Road, Transparent), and this conversation flipped that on its head. Once again, Black trans women are pushing forward discussions of trans and queer identity and leading the way to a better world for LGBTQ+ people and their families.
The episode airs on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. CT.