For one queer woman of color, coming out has been a journey of navigating familial relationships
Throughout the month of June, The Neighborhoods will be featuring stories from queer residents across the city. Today, we’re talking to Shauntelle from Blackstone Park about coming out of the closet, being proud, and mending familial relationships.
“I came out almost three years ago. Being a queer woman of color has allowed me to understand who I am better, and more self-love. I think before I discovered that piece of me, I was still in search of who I was.
I’m 28 now. I came out when I was 25. I met a young lady and we started dating and we got together in a relationship and I wasn’t out to my family. I was still closeted…afraid of being outcast, being rejected by my family. I grew up in a religious household. (My partner) had been out for ten years, so I was basically a baby. She was just like, I hate to say it, a seasoned lesbian. Looking back it had to be hard for her because technically she had to go back in the closet for me. I had to sneak around, change my clothing because my mom didn’t know.
Long story short, when my mom was at work one time, (my partner) came over. And my mom came home early, and mind you my mom didn’t know this person whatsoever. My mom’s that person where if we’re close friends, you know my mother. So she came home and I was like, ‘Oh shit. Hey Mom, this is so-and-so. She’s my friend.’ My mom looked (at me) like, ‘Bitch, no she ain’t.’ (Laughs)
It was a lot of lying. And I’m not a liar, so it was hard. My mom is an older woman. She’s not stupid. So when I say, ‘Hey Mom, I’m going to spend the night over so-and-so’s house, she’d be like, ‘Yeah, okay.’
The first couple of months, my mother was in turmoil. She was like, ‘Not my precious baby.’ You know that whole fire and brimstone type thing. And then after a while she started to accept me. It was just hard for her to grasp that her only child is gay. It was more of the standpoint of 'This is my baby. I envision her to be with a man and have kids and you shattered my dream of you.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I can still have those things. Just in a different form.’
I think she was afraid of other people’s opinions, but now that she sees her close friends they accept me. All her girlfriends, all her friends are like, ‘Girl, we don’t care.’
(Now, my mom is) like, ‘Bring somebody home who is decent, who has a purpose, a passion. Some one who is beautiful for you. Someone who just has life inside of them. Date somebody of quality - quality for you, not quality for me or anybody else.’”