Raziel Reid as a baby with his mother, Mareena.
If you read this blog often, then you know I'm a big ol' Madonna queen. As a confused and depressed 15-year-old, I tried to kill myself and found Madonna. She really helped shape my sexuality and was the driving force behind my coming out.
I'm what you might call an "obvious" gay. Everyone, especially my mother, knew I was gay from the time I was old enough to crawl into my sister's closet and put on one of her skirts. Then there's the childhood memory my father likes to share in front of company about the time when I was three years old and he thought he'd lost me. He couldn't find me anywhere in the house or yard. It wasn't long before he caught up with me, halfway down the street, stomping along in a pair of my mother's pumps.
Despite these, er, signs, I didn't confirm anything about my sexuality to my family until I was 18 years old. Of course, when I was 14 I played the bisexuality card with my friends (who didn't?), and by the time I was 17 most of them knew I had taken the leap into full-fledged homosexuality. I was too insecure to be out in school, although my cover-up and lipgloss were kind of revealing, despite my insistence that I was au-naturel. "I have good genes, asshole."
It took me a while to work up the courage to walk into the kitchen and tell my mom I was gay. I knew she already knew and didn't care. She's always been progressive and accepting. And I guess that was a part of why I didn't want to tell her. I didn't want to tell anyone, because I didn't want to hear them say, "Duh."
I was in my room watching some show on Much More Music about gay musicians, and a switch in my brain flicked on. When they started talking about Madonna and her various rumoured lesbian liaisons and affinity for the gay community, I realized something profound that has shaped my life ever since: being gay is fucking fabulous. The people they talked about on the show, from Madonna to Freddie Mercury to Boy George, were my biggest influences and, in my opinion, some of the coolest people on Earth. It dawned on me then, like a rainbow epiphany -- being gay is cool. Gay people are cool. You might even say the coolest.
I took a deep breath and without really thinking, going solely on instinct and adrenaline, walked into the kitchen and asked my mother, "Why don't straight people have to come out as straight to their family but gay people have to come out as gay?"
She continued washing a dish and explained that we live in a world where most people are straight, so if you're in the minority that isn't, it's up to you to tell people.
"Well," I said, "you've probably known my whole life, but I'm gay."
She smiled and without missing a beat said, "I have known your whole life and often wondered why you didn't feel you could tell me."
When I went back to my room I asked myself the same thing and realized that my being closeted was really just an example of my shallowness. I didn't care if people thought I was gay. I just cared if people thought I was uncool.
And as clips from Madonna's "Erotica" video flashed on my television screen, I knew once and for all that I had nothing to worry about.