We all have our own coming out story. My girlfriend’s involves too much wine and the Take Back The Night March. A good friend’s has to do with a very forthcoming roommate.
My coming out story has to do with my mom, a strip bar and seven naked dancers.
My mom had been a stripper in a bar in St Catharines for many years, and one day I went with her to visit some of her old friends. I’d heard about these women for years and was happy to finally meet them. At 19, I was finally old enough to step into a world I had heard about for so long.
For some bizarre reason, I never even considered that my mom’s friends would be greeting me naked. I guess I had been hanging on to a PG-13 version of what a strip club should be like: beautiful women in elaborate costumes doing the cancan in front of a tuxedo-clad crowd.
Oh, how wrong I was.
There I was, surrounded by large beautiful naked breasts, at least seven bouncing pairs coming straight at me. I became smaller and smaller as these women closed in on me in one massive nude hug. Being much shorter than these stiletto-clad ladies, my face was pressed up against the great wall of cleavage.
Eventually they took a step back. As I tried to get a hold of myself, a voice inside my head repeated, “Look into their eyes. Look into their eyes….”
We all sat down together. I kept wishing I could contribute to the conversation, but all I could do was stare at the 14 nipples hovering above the tabletop. I tried not to let my eyes rest on anything for too long, but the biggest challenge came in the form of two girls going down on each other on stage. I was lost in the moment.
I snapped out of it when drinks were raised in honour of my birthday and I wondered how long I’d been mesmerized by the show. I was sweating profusely, convinced that the whole table knew I was queer.
It was then that I snapped to what now seems like an obvious thought: Being in a strip club with your mother is uncomfortable. Being in a strip club with your mother as a 19-year-old closeted lesbian is mortifying.
On the way home, my mom asked me if I remembered the time I got onstage at a strip club when I was six years old. Of course I did.
I was sitting at a table drinking a 7-Up and ravaging a colouring book, waiting for my mom to pick up her pay cheque, when I suddenly dropped my crayons and headed to the stage. I danced around, watching my reflection on the mirrored back wall. I laughed with surprise when I looked up and saw myself reflected on the mirrored ceiling, too. The barmaid gave me a big round of applause as I happily swung myself around the big shiny golden pole. This was fun!
My mom eventually looked up, but she wasn’t smiling. As if she saw it as a predictor of things to come, she rushed up to the stage and pried me off the golden post — rudely interrupting my glorious finale. I was pissed, and I let my mom know my displeasure by kicking and screaming all the way home.
At six, I could have hung out on that stage forever, thinking that my mom had the coolest job in the world. At 19, you couldn’t have gotten me out of that strip club fast enough.
These days, I’m thankfully no longer afraid of naked women, their breasts or what it means to be turned on by them — but I doubt that I’ll ever be comfortable kicking it in a strip club. After all, that’s where mom used to work.