There’s no one way of coming out. In that spirit for Pride 2022, NYLON asked six queer musicians to share their coming out stories. In the as-told-to below, rising non-binary R&B singer Marzz recounts their religious upbringing and breaking the news to their family, and argues for coming out to be a more casual affair. Read more stories from Tove Styrke.
I grew up in the church so I couldn't really be expressive in who I am or what I was into. I had to slowly but surely bring it to the surface. I'm sure that my family knew that I was gonna end up being [queer], from the way that I dressed, the way that I was. I came out to my mom at the end of my 8th grade year. I feel like being raised in the church, it was so much of me being scared of how people would look at me rather than feeling accepted. I wasn't so worried about [my family] accepting me because it was kind of like an acceptance already. I was like, "Yeah, I don't know how they're going to take this, but I really don't care at the end of the day. I can't keep hiding no more. I got to express my love."
We were getting ready for a Sunday service and usually on Sundays my mom wanted us to dress up. That's what she'd say: "Go get your church clothes on." Usually, I wear black with a dress shirt, but this one day I didn't feel like dressing up. She was like, "Why don't you wear a dress for me this one Sunday?" And I was like, "Ma, I can't do that. No." And I was in my room and I was mad. For 10, 40 minutes I sat in my room, and I put on my music. I used to listen to a lot of Teyana Taylor and a lot of Kehlani. So I put my jam on inside my room and I was just like, "You know what, I'm sick of having to feel like I have to hide myself."
I went back out there and literally 20 minutes after I jammed out in my room, I came and I was like, "Ma, I'm gay. I like girls." I flat out said it and she sat on the couch watching TV and braiding my sister’s hair and she was like, "Okay. I was waiting for you to tell me. I ain't mad at you. Don't think that I think of you any different. I was just waiting for you to tell me." My mom is the type [where] she don't bring it up unless you bring it up first. She isn’t gonna interrogate you about it. But it was just really startling. I was in shock. At first I thought she was going to be praying over me and stuff because my mom's heavily into church, but she was just like, "Nah." It was pretty chill like another regular day. We went to get food afterwards, and the day was regular.
“I did feel empowered and like I can finally be free. Like I literally didn’t have to hide myself anymore.”
After my mom, I was like, "If I'm going to go all out, I'm going to go all out and go for it." That Sunday after church, I came to my mom and I was like, "Ma, I want to shave my head." It was just a random thought. We were sitting in the car. At first, she was like, "What? No it's going to be too boyish." I [said], “All right, let's do a pixie cut." After I came home, my family had come to my mom's house, everyone was in shock. It was like, "What?! You cut your hair?" It was a good reaction. But when I told them, "I'm gay," they was like, "What? What's going on? Oh, my God, are you serious?" My two aunties, they're really heavily in the church — God bless they hearts — they was like, "I don't know about this. I don't know how to feel." But for the most part, my grandma gave me a hug. She called me her Nubian queen. She was like, "My Nubian queen, I love you regardless of anything that anybody has to say.” That kind of made me tear up because I was like, if my granny don't mind, I don't care. It was all I really needed. She’s my best friend, and everybody's reaction for the most part was pretty straight.
I did feel empowered and like I can finally be free. Like I literally didn’t have to hide myself anymore. Being raised in strictly a Christian household where you’re wearing dresses to church every Sunday, just being in that type of environment, it was a huge relief. I knew that regardless of if my family didn't accept me, I’d still have a large group of people that genuinely love me and support me for who I am. I feel like even now, a coming out story, I feel like it shouldn't even be such a thing like that. It should just be, "Oh, okay,” like casually. People do different things every day. What's wrong with somebody saying that they have a different form of love?
[My music] played a huge role. That was really the only way before coming out I could be able to express myself, because I'm not a very confrontational or verbal person. I'd rather just do it through texts or letters, and honestly just writing my feelings out and me visually seeing it. If I'm writing it and I'm seeing it, it's a big release place for me. It really took me a lot to even translate [my feelings] over to a song: the way that I feel, my love and stuff. It's me just being vulnerable at this point.
As hard as it is to [come out], go for it and just do it. Put yourself first and be selfish about yourself. You deserve the world, you deserve to be loved, you deserve love, and if that's the way that you want to express yourself and you feel strongly about it, then go for that. My mama always said, "If you’re going to do something, don't do it halfway, do it all the way." That's it, period. You’ve got nothing but love and support behind you, so just know that you are not alone. Don't feel like you have so much on your back. Honestly, there’s more people there for you then there's people against you, so just go for it.