I Was Afraid to Come Out in the Bible Belt—Until I Became a Mother

Becoming a mother is a transformative experience for every woman, giving her a new sense of unconditional love and bravery.

I love a good cliche, and sometimes what needs to be said, has been said a million times before because it’s true. 

“Motherhood completely changes you.” 

I really wish I could say that those changes came more easily. That they all felt like cool water, instead of hell fire—but that would be a whole-ass lie. The truth is, as a woman raised in the Southern Baptist Church, in a discretely dysfunctional family unit- deciding to come out as a queer woman late into my twenties, after having my son, took strength only becoming a mother could teach me.

After a whirlwind hour of laboring, my boy arrived like he meant it, into a cold, rainy February evening into the arms of a woman who absolutely deemed herself fully prepared and ready to mother. He was perfect. The exact culmination of years of effort and planning and heartache and reading and Clomid.

He. Was. Perfect. And, he was here. In my arms. I had never before experienced the crushing weight of worry and panic like I did in those first hours of being my son’s mother. He was every single thing that I had prayed for; every single untainted and unaffected thing. But inside me, a war was raging.

Self-doubt draped itself around my shoulders and whispered into my ear: “You are absolutely going to fail him. He needs someone stronger and more together than you will ever be.” Day one?! I couldn’t even have one day with him, before the intrusive thoughts and panic showed up?! How was I ever going to be able to believe that I deserved to be his mother?

Being my son’s mom meant confronting all of the ways I really believed love was conditional—conditional to maintaining the status quo.

Be that—in the systems that existed within my foundational family—or those imposed by the evangelical church. I grew up understanding that questioning those systems meant I was wrong. 

Abandoning myself and my voice was an act of survival. Everything the church had taught me about how unworthy I was of love, and how innately sinful I was, hung like thick smoke around my earliest moments with my son. They danced around my head, and filled me with so much shame.

Yet, the moment this beautiful boy entered the world, I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that I could never put conditions on my love for him. I could never remain voiceless about how deeply he deserved the absolute most love, forever. He challenged everything I thought I knew—just by existing. 

It was that first day with him that I learned to do it afraid.

That as his mother, I had to show up to this role absolutely terrified, because this exact, perfect boy…he picked me. And, I had to trust that he would teach me to be brave enough to keep going, day after day. And he did. He taught me patience. He taught me to be creative. He taught me to be so, so brave. Because of him, I was brave enough to live my truth. I was brave enough to trust what he was teaching me- that love really is unconditional. I was brave enough to believe that deserved joy and love and reprieve from storylines that I never got to participate in authoring 

‘Pride’ feels like such an important, yet forever tainted word in my own personal story. 


My pride also meant abandonment. 

My pride meant the most discomfort I have ever experienced. 

My pride meant the end of my marriage to my son’s father. 

My pride meant severing relationships of every kind, and loss after loss of people I had convinced myself were unlovable. 

My pride meant deconstructing my faith. 

My pride meant deconstructing my entire life. My pride meant deeply rooted fear around my son. 

How would people treat him when they found out he has a queer mom? Would he have to miss out on parties and sleepovers? Would he be judged because of me? Would he suffer because of my decision to come out? 

Coming out for me, was a lot of things. Painful, liberating, disjointing, beautiful.

It felt a lot like diving into a mountain river in the dead heat of summer. For a moment, the cold water steals your breath, and feels like pins and needles on your skin. You break the surface, and gasp for air—forgetting all about how brave you were to jump in the first place. But, the air comes. You remember you can swim. You tread water and find the shore. 

I remember the deep pain I was carrying around leading up to my coming out. I remember the shame. I deeply loved my son’s father. He was—and still is—a good human and an even better father, so what’s there to leave? How could I do this to a person I cared about? 

Coming out to him was such a hard experience for both of us.

The layers felt like they might never stop falling away—but we both tried to keep our focus on what we absolutely had in common: our boy. The months leading up to all of that honesty and becoming were really intense and messy. 

I spent months spiraling into mental dysfunction—trying so hard to reason with the overwhelming feeling that my presence in the world, in my son’s world, was just incorrect. That he deserved something other than what he got stuck with in a mother. That my queerness made me unloveable. Unworthy. My son was only two years old, and I felt overwhelmed by all the ways I believed I wasn’t meant to be here in this life with him. Those months were the hardest, most brutal of my life. 

All of the things I feared the most, happened.

I lost people. People I loved. I hurt people, not just by the act of existing, but because my journey included a lot of self-destruction and pain. That pain infiltrated all of the parts of my life. I had to face what so many years of dishonesty and what hiding myself from the world would mean for those that felt like they knew me. What it would mean for me. What it turned out to be, was my life’s greatest opportunity to heal and understand all of the depths my soul had traveled to finally arrive in safety.

In those moments, I had to trust what motherhood was teaching me: love is absolutely, unabashedly unconditional, and that doesn’t exclude me.  

I am now nine years beyond that ground-zero hero, who fought like hell for the authenticity, peace and love that I get to exist in today. I wish I could go back in time and hold that version of me in my mama arms. Tell her how absolutely stellar she is. Tell her that she was and is absolutely made for this. Reassure her that the discomfort of it all is just so worth it. To just relax and let it come. 

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to skip all of the parts that left scars. To just skip the wounds, and land softly. Would all of these sparkly moments I get to live now, mean as much if they didn’t come after such pain? I will never know, and I am learning how to accept that.

And, honestly, every single one of those aches and pains were part of my journey, and absolutely worth it. 

Nine years later, my sweet boy has so many friends. He’s adored and cherished by everyone who knows him. Nine years later, I have a wonderful co-parenting relationship with my son’s dad and his beautiful wife.

Nine years later, I have the most incredible wife, who loves my son and I better and more than I could have ever dreamed possible.

Nine years later, the community around me thrives with vibrant, supportive, unbelievably cool humans. Nine years later, I am unlearning all of the messaging that excluded me from the love of my creator. Nine years later, I still have to pinch myself to make sure that this is my life. 

So, in June you’ll find us celebrating pride. Celebrating the vibrancy in our community that includes so many flavors of love. So many flavors of support and encouragement and connection. You’ll find us celebrating bravery and the courage to seek out and live an empowered and authentic life. You’ll find us with our family- the one that saw us in our darkness and chose to share its light. 

You’ll find us so damn proud to be on this ride, together.


  • Tia Hixon-Schrock

    Tia Hixon-Schrock is smart-mouthed southern mama, from the Mountains of western North Carolina. Her love for writing spans throughout her life, but really became an outlet for her after the birth of her son left her realizing that the experience of motherhood is largely misrepresented. Tia’s career in the boudoir industry has lended her a lot of unique opportunities to connect with women in their vulnerability, and further strengthened her want to use writing as a way to elevate voices and platforms that are working to create equitable spaces for all women. When she isn’t making art with hot babes, you’ll find Tia on the ball field with her wife and son, or listening to podcasts in the sunshine!

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