Coming Out to My Parents

I came out to my dad about being a stripper on Father's Day.

Aren't I such a good kid?

I'd already been dancing for nine months at school, but I hadn't felt ready to tell my parents right when I started.

I hate lying to them. The lie I told them about my new job, that I was a "cocktail waitress" in a strip club, was the first one I'd told them since high school.

I learned when I was 16 that I only lied to them when I was ashamed or unsure about what I was doing. If I felt that I was right, if there was something I wanted to do that was against the rules or I thought they wouldn't like, I'd come right out with it and duke it out until I had my way. This didn't really happen unless I did have a good reason for what I wanted to do; I'm a relatively down-to-earth girl.

But. When I wanted to let myself get away with something I felt was wrong or at least was ambivalent towards, I'd lie about it. It wasn't about trying to trick them; they're very supportive of me and accept my choices. It was more about deceiving myself. I learned to use this as a moral compass: if I felt like I had to lie about it, I shouldn't be doing it.

So lying about stripping was difficult.

Here's the thing, though. When I started stripping I was ambivalent about it. A big reason for doing it was curiosity. I wanted to know what it was like, to be naked in front of a room of lecherous men. I wanted to know if it was degrading. I wanted to experience sex work for myself so that I could decide how I felt about it.

So I really had no idea what I was getting into.

I couldn't possibly have defended my choice to my parents. Maybe they would have understood the curiosity, but I wasn't ready to explain it. If it had turned out to be degrading and awful, curiosity wouldn't have been enough to justify it. And I knew it could have been bad; I'd heard enough stories. I'm masochistic enough that I didn't care and I was going to do it anyway. That's the part that would have been hard to explain.

I'm not sure exactly what it is that I said that convinced my dad (and my mom, a couple weeks earlier) that stripping was what I wanted to do and would be okay. I do know I wouldn't have been able to say it last October. Because now I've experienced stripping, I know for certain what it's like for me. I know that it makes me feel empowered, that I enjoy it. Without that certain knowledge, I'd have lost the "I want to strip, okay?" argument in a heartbeat.

They still think, or pretend to believe, that I was a cocktail waitress until I came home for the summer and told them I was going to be a stripper. Lying is something I'm ashamed of, so I can't admit to them that I lied. Funny, isn't it, how a lie stays with you for such a long time?


Kelly said...

Your experience is familiar to me, first I had to learn how I felt about stripping before I could prepare myself to come out. Great blog!

Unknown said...

Thanks! :-)

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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