Cut. Color. Clarity. Carat.

 

These are the “Four C’s” of determining the quality of a diamond. Cut refers to the way a diamond is polished and

cut; this can affect its brilliance. The lesser visible the color of the diamond, the higher its

grade. Clarity refers to the amount of surface and inner blemishes or flaws of the diamond.

Carat refers to the measurement of weight of the diamond.

 

My father didn’t care about any of the four C’s. When I got my first earring in my left ear at 22,

he took notice. “Son, you got an earring I see,” were his only remarks.

 

Back then a man could have a left ear earring and still pass as being straight.

Earrings in both ears were a bit tricky and confusing for the masses.

An earring in your right ear only meant you were full on fag. Those were the rules.

 

At 23 when I got my right ear pierced and came home to visit my parents, I thought I could fool them by just

leaving the right one in and taking the left one out. Then I would only have one earring in, and what kind of parents

would pay attention to such things? Apparently, my parents did.

 

“Oh, you got an earring in your right ear,” my father asked one night while we were watching TV.

My cover was blown. “Yeah pop,” I responded.

 

He just went back to reading his newspaper. He didn’t speak any more about it to me directly. Instead, he asked my mother about it.

Every morning while they were having breakfast before he went to work.

 

“Donna is our son trying to tell us something?” he would say to her. In turn, she would relay his questioning to me. She had already known for a year prior and had gone through her own grieving process when she exclaimed “I just don’t want my only son to die of AIDS”

with tears streaming down her face.

 

But she had kept my secret close to her chest for an entire year – even away from her husband.

She knew she couldn’t keep him at bay and keep lying to him, so she asked me what she should do.

 

“If he’s not man enough to ask me to my face, you can go ahead and tell him,” I told her.

 

And that’s exactly what she did.

 

The hardest part of inviting loved ones into your sexuality is the not knowing. The unpredictability of their potential responses.

Affirming and supportive? Or stigmatizing and potentially violent?

They may not recognize and fully appreciate the sparkle that comes with being your authentic self,

and how that luster can be tarnished when not affirmed. 

 

The hardest part is not knowing.

 

It was a stark reality that hit me when my mother told him. He didn’t speak to me for days after that. He barely looked at me. The ritualistic kisses we would give each other in the morning and at bedtime stopped. He couldn’t bear to deal with the reality of what the earrings meant and what his heart already knew that had just been confirmed. 

 

His reaction, once he did decide to speak to me, was a toxic mix of anger, resentment, and disappointment that let me know in no uncertain terms that it was not acceptable for the son of a Haitian immigrant to be a same gender loving man. I was a Princeton graduate, a 2nd year medical student on my way to becoming a physician. Yet all of it wiped out by how I was born and to whom I was naturally attracted.

 

He couldn’t understand why I would want to do this to him. He had come to America with dreams. Dreams for himself and for his family.

Me being who I was ruined these dreams for him. We engaged in a “discussion” that ended up being more his one-sided soliloquy that made my sexual orientation about him. As he spoke, I felt like my skin was being ripped off, slowly back from my fingertips until just bones, organs, and sinewy muscle remained. Raw and exposed, with any successes I had to that point immediately and irrevocably erased. 

Scars and blemishes still linger from that experience despite years going by and my father recently deceased. The hardest realization in my healing came in realizing that I needed to forgive him more than he needed to forgive me. The weight of knowing who you are may disappoint your loved ones. Their words and reactions can cut deeply into your soul.

These experiences color the person you become and how your vision becomes clearer as a result. 

 

Know your worth. 

 

Shine bright.

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