Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dear Ellen

Hey Grey people!

So I came across this, and I thought I'd share it. I have come so far since I wrote it, and I got a kick out of reading about the way I used to be. I wrote it to Ellen Degeneres one day, though I'm not sure why. If only my current self could have spoken to the old me. I would have known then that it would all be okay.

Dear Ellen,

I don’t really know why I’m writing this letter. I know that it’s 2011, and being gay is no longer “a big deal” but somehow I find myself lying in bed on a Sunday afternoon watching season 4 of Ellen, and wishing that I had some clever and hilarious way of telling my family who I am.

I’m 26 years old, and strangely enough, the first time I realized that I like girls was in 1997. I was twelve, so a little young to be watching your show (though I did watch Oprah, which my mother hated! There’s nothing like a child saying “Oprah says you shouldn’t berate your children” to make you want to smack them) but I wish that I had been watching, because maybe it would have helped me put two and two together sooner! If I had maybe I could have avoided dating the ------(sorry, got to leave this part out), to whom I finally lost my “boy” virginity at 21, and who subsequently converted to Catholicism and basically asked for his virginity back. I can count the number of times we had sex on one hand, so if we’re working under the same rules as marriage, I’m sure he’s got grounds to ask God for an annulment or something.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this...I guess it’s mostly because, after watching your Oprah interview from 1997 I realize that I’m a lot like you. I didn’t really put it all together the first time I loved a girl. I kind of just thought that people love who they love. I also figured that as long as I still dated men, it was “ok.” I have subsequently realized that I don’t really like dating men, so I guess I’m not “ok” and by “ok” I mean straight! I’m fine with it, more than fine actually, and I have been living happily for a long time now. The problem is that it has created this distance between me and my family. I sort of accidentally told my dad about the girl I was seeing during an argument about the family reunion hotel (long story), and every conversation we’ve had about it since has turned into an argument. The larger issue is that I haven’t told him that I don’t like men at all, and I haven’t told my extended family. See, the thing is, according to my family, there are no black gay people, and there certainly aren’t and gay people “as pretty as I am.” I have been getting this a lot lately—I’m sure Portia can relate—and it’s really starting to piss me off. “You’re too pretty to be gay” and “you don’t look gay” are the two comments I get most (frequently from straight men and bicurious girls...equally annoying in my book), and I never really know how to respond. In any case, my family has always thought I was a bit weird, so I don’t really know how to tell them that I’m even “weirder” and by “weirder” I mean gayer, than they thought! Oh, and by the way, I’m black. There’s never an appropriate place to stick this factoid into conversations, so I thought I’d throw it out there, in case you didn’t catch that, because it sheds some light on why I’m nervous about telling my southern, black, Baptist Christian family that I’m gay.

I still don’t really know why I’m writing this...I guess I’m writing so that you can help me tell my black Baptist family that I’m gay. Maybe you and Oprah could team up for this endeavor (no offense, but I think my black Baptist grandma is more likely to be swayed by Oprah for some reason). While you’re at it, you could also do a show about feminine gay girls, because we do, in fact, exist. I’m sure it will take you a long time to respond to this if you even do—I know you’re busy being famous and gay and all that—so perhaps you could do a 15-year commemoration of that episode or something... In any case, you were the first celebrity I ever had a crush on, so thanks for being hot and thanks for being gay. You’re awesome, and what you did in 1997 was awesome. Hopefully I’ll gain some pearls of wisdom from watching the rest of the show, and come up with some great way of coming out to my family.

Take Care,

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