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Coming Out to Mother Using a Sales Pitch

Procrastinators like me spend lots of time dazedly following telemarketing commercials on TV. Ladders that carry twelve people, kitchen-knives that slice through airport runways, and facial moisturizers that restore scratched car hoods. Through televisual osmosis, I absorbed the hypnotic techniques marketers use to sell a book about how to have sales resistance, and decided to use this type of sales-pitch to come out to my mother, selling her on the fact that I’m gay.

I came out to my mother one year after coming out to myself. I was visiting over break and we’d settled around the dinner table fitfully discussing how college was going. A diehard hypochondriac perpetually clutching a health manual, she was diagnosing a skin blemish as a symptom of immanent death. I’d imagined coming out several times, the scene playing in my mind as often as those gadget promotions on nightly television. But no matter how often you rehearse your scene, things never unfold as you expect.


As she anxiously examined her malignant zit in a magnifying mirror, I consciously lowered my voice to effect a serious tone. The emanating words sounded something like this: “You know how college changes you, right? And you meet people and learn new things and all…Well, I’ve changed….” She looked up at me with new anxiety and braced herself, fingers alertly spread out in front of her, making her look like she was a bird in defense mode perched on the health reference book, now opened to well-labeled photos of dermatological diseases.


I continued the shtick, using the telemarketing strategy of always improving the deal: “Well, what would you say if I told you…that I’m involved with drugs?”


Ok, I admit this is not the most sensible or ethical thing to say while affirming my sexual identity, but if it works for selling cheap knives…Thoughts of terminal illness escaped her head and my spiel continued: “Because I know that if that were true, which it isn’t, you would still support me, right?” Now, this is the part where the overenthusiastic, underpaid actor rouses the audience’s anticipation. She murmurs, nodding in agreement. “So would you support me if I told you I dropped out of school?” My audience rejoices to find out they’d only make three easy payments of $9.99 (instead of 30 bucks once). The deal is better than before. Again, she murmurs.


Now comes the clincher. “So would you support me” (pause for campy suspense—) “if I told you I’m gay.” The audience wows! If they agree to call now, they will get a cutting board (a $60 value) as an exclusive free gift. Of course, they thrill, not just because the dishwasher-safe polyvinyl board is simply phenomenal, but because it’s a better deal than the first. Hence, why they should call now.


Yet, like the informed television audience, my mother is not surprised by this final offer. She knows me like avid shoppers know good merchandise. In the end, I didn’t need to sell my mother on the fact that I’m gay; she didn’t need ostentatious demos or fake testimonials. The 15-minute shtick could have cut to the final, straightforward screen: no scripts, only a heart to heart.


But the pitch didn’t sell to her; it was for my own benefit. It sold me on the fact that I had a faithful audience, willing to buy whatever I pitch, no matter how crazy or shoddy. It’s not the salesman but the customer that makes coming out easier. My audience still gives me all her support and all her love—the real kind, not as seen on TV.





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