The Two Sides Of Coming Out: A Mum & Son’s Story

Mel Gaudron and Jack Tobin share their raw, emotional experience of when a child comes out as queer to their family.
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With thousands expected to take part in the WorldPride march over Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge this Sunday, marie claire Australia staffer Mel Gaudron, and her son Jack, share all the feels over his coming out journey.

A Mother’s Love: Mel Gaudron On Her Son Coming Out

When your 22-year-old son announces he needs a family meeting with his mum and dad on a Tuesday night, it raises an eyebrow. Like most uni students, his weeknights are usually reserved for pub trivia, catching up with friends and only occasionally managing to squeeze in a dinner with the fam at home. He had me at hello.

Things quickly turned serious. He opened with “I don’t know how I’m going to tell you this.’ He ummed. He ahhd. He ran his hands nervously through his hair. I was dying inside for him. For my eldest son who has always had an articulate gift of the gab, suddenly was tongue-tied into silence. My darling boy was scared.

Always looking to rescue, I offered: “Jack is this about your sexuality? Just say it.’’ He looked up, shocked, and blurted out, “I just want to tell you I like boys too.”

It’s out.

His father hugged him. I hugged him. We shared words of tenderness, of love and pride. I declared we were off to Mardi Gras, just to shift the mood and get him to laugh.

I wanted to tell him that I had known in my bones for a long time but restrained myself. No-one wants to hear their big news is old news. This was his story to tell. His journey. 

I knew this announcement was a big deal for him, but for the rest of the family, it was neither surprising nor controversial. In fact, amongst our circle, his news was barely ‘newsworthy’.

Mel couldn’t have been more proud of her son. (Credit: Image: Supplied)

His brothers hugged him and cracked gags. My family and friends all reacted the same. There were a few “woohoos”, plenty of ” told you so’s” and not one drop of outrage or damnation or shame. As it should be. There was honestly more handwringing in our house when our second son decided to give up league and play AFL (now that was contentious decision).

It’s become apparent that no-one really gives a damn about who Jack is gunning for in his search for a Happy Ever After. Not because we don’t love him, but because we do. We just want our darling boy to be happy. We want him to find his peeps, to find love – and he can’t do any of that without being proud of who he is.

We want him to love the skin he is in as much as we do. And whoever Jack loves, we will love too. (Though in our house the precursor to a perfect partner isn’t based on gender, but on whether the entire family can make jokes at their expense. Now that’s a keeper.)

Jack has certainly looked lighter since his announcement, especially as he’s been getting his glitter on all over Sydney. And he was so excited to invite us to march in WorldPride, #bless.

While he knows we’ve always got his back, this is our first chance to be by his side supporting the blindingly beautiful rainbow community. Our community! I hope every participant who ever felt scared about admitting their true selves to their families only feel an overwhelming wash of love and acceptance on Sunday – and for always. Happy WorldPride everyone.  

A Big Day: Jack Tobin On Coming Out To His Family

Jack pictured after sharing the news with the family, in 2022. (Credit: Image: Supplied)

I came out in May 2022 as queer, which to me means I like everyone regardless of gender or orientation. I remember the night that I came out to Mum and Dad; that five metre walk from my bedroom to the lounge room felt much longer. I was absolutely terrified in all honesty.

I had heard horror coming-out stories from some of my closest friends and internet strangers alike. I knew that my parents are loving and accepting. I know they have gay friends. But a part of me still thought it would be different if one of their sons came out to them.

So many thoughts (with no real evidence yet greatly persuasive) went through my head during that walk: What if they treated me differently? What if they in fact didn’t accept it at all? What if I got the ‘it’s just a phase’ talk? What if they already knew but the ‘queer person’ I begin expressing myself as isn’t up to scratch?

I stood there, and my parents, Mel and Luke, are sitting on the lounge watching TV. I don’t know why I chose this moment or why I didn’t get them to sit down at the table, but instead some sitcom was the soundtrack of one of the biggest moments of my life.

I remember Mum saying ‘spit it out’ with that knowing look on her face. Dad was sitting next to her with a similar look. In hindsight, they were probably placing bets since I entered musical theatre in Year 3.

All I said was, “I might like boys too.” Dad came up to hug me and kept hugging me. Mum sat there and then shouted, “YAY! MARDI GRAS!” and gave me a big hug.

I cannot express the emotions I felt in that moment. It was a mixture of relief, hope, happiness, and pure joy. My parents accepted me for who I am and validated the part of myself I held back for the last 22 years. I didn’t cry in the moment but I was pretty goddamn close.

They told me that I was loved and that I was cared for, and that I didn’t need to measure up to any expectations or standards as long as I was Jack.

The family are attending WorldPride in Sydney, 2023. (Credit: Image: Getty)

My brother Billy hugged me and didn’t know if he should say congrats or thank you. My brother Paddy made sure that I knew he accepted me. Our household has always been one of taking the absolute piss and joking with each other. In all honesty, one of my biggest worries was that they would stop including me in all the jokes. But, no they have kept it up, which has been one of the best examples of acceptance from my family I could have ever asked for.

Mum still asks how I am going “with the boyyyyyyys”. Dad still wants to advise me on everything. It’s the normalcy that I craved, and I have received that with unconditional love on top of it.

So yes, I have three extra tickets to go to the WorldPride March on Sunday. I am taking one of my best mates Ash. And I am taking my parents. I would not have been able to truly accept myself and be on the journey I am on today, if it wasn’t for them. I will most likely cry on World Pride, because I am proud of my community and myself, and I am very proud to call my parents Mum and Dad.

To all the girls, gays and theys reading, there is so much love in this world and in our community for you. Happy WorldPride!

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