When I was 10, I realised I was gay, but I was in denial. I did not want to acknowledge that part of myself, so I pushed it aside.
Every time the thought popped into my head, I shut it down. I did not want to let the idea ‘grow.’
I didn’t want to accept who I was and tell people around me. Everyone around me has already known me for years, so they already had a specific idea of who I was as a person. I was really afraid that if I told the people around me, their perceptions about me would change.
When I turned 18, I finally came to terms with my sexuality
Initially, I had planned to tell everyone friends and family once I finished my degree, in order to have a safety net.
But at 19, I realised it was going to be another couple of years of hiding and being unhappy. I felt safe and comfortable enough with my friends, so I came out to them.
Their reaction was matter-of-fact and supportive. They always knew, they just didn’t think it ever was an issue to raise in conversation.
My friends share the same values as I do, so I wasn’t afraid that I was going to get rejected by them. With my parents, I have no idea what they think about LGBT, whether positive or negative.
Growing up, the LGBT community was never talked about in my family. No one brought it up in conversations at dinner. I only knew about it through the media and through discussions with my friends.
Since I never had a conversation with them or even heard the word ‘gay’ being uttered by them, it would just be a very awkward conversation for us.
My family confronted me about my sexuality at a strip club
Still, despite all my attempts at hiding, I always had a feeling that they suspected that I was gay. Up to this point, I am the only boy that has not brought a girl back home.
In 2019, we went to Thailand with our extended family and they decided to go to a strip club. It was not something that seemed appealing to me and they noticed.
That night, I took a nap in the club while the rest were enjoying their night.
Sometime later, I woke up to my family egging me on to give one of the strippers money. It was such an awkward request.
Feeling extremely uncomfortable, instead of slipping the cash in her underwear or throwing it at them, I tapped her shoulder and passed it to her.
After, when I was walking back with my cousins, one of them said something to me that piqued my interest.
He said, “I don’t care what they say about you. You can love who you want to love, it doesn’t matter.”
During the same trip, another cousin asked me, straight up: “Are you gay?”
I laughed outwardly and said something casual I don’t remember, but inside I was annoyed. To add to that, my father confronted me as well.
We were just hanging out when he asked, “Why don’t you ever talk to me about anything but your achievements and education?”
He compared me to my cousins, saying that they talk to their parents about everything else, like relationships or so.
I remember getting very angry with him and just said, “Because it’s none of your business,” and walked off.
Why can’t he be happy with the things I have achieved that my cousins have not?
There are so many other things to talk about. Why do we have to talk about my sexuality, aside from all the other things?
They probably thought they were being supportive, but it isn’t a coincidence that 3 people brought up something relating to my sexuality, directly or indirectly, on the same trip.
It clicked in my head that I was the subject of their gossip – specifically, my sexuality and whether I was gay.
I have always tried to be polite and helpful with my whole family. So why do they have discussions about me and not mind their own business?
I am not scared of their reactions, because I know I won’t tolerate anything negative and would argue with them.
But I want them to know ‘I am gay’ on my terms.
As a young adult, I’ve grown more distant from my family
When I was younger, I was very close to my family. I’d follow my dad to work and go out with my family on the weekends.
However, over the years, my parents and I have drifted apart. One of the reasons being because I have had to hide this part of myself.
The way I act with my friends is seen as stereotypically ‘gay’ but that’s when I feel like I am being 100% myself.
But if I show this side of myself to my family, these stereotypically gay mannerisms, they will know or make assumptions, so I keep it hidden.
I can’t even remember the last time my parents heard me laugh. I suppress my natural reactions to things out of fear that they will find out it’s a ‘gay’ laugh.
When I am home for my break, I am very distant from them. There have been times when I have gone over two days not talking or seeing my parents while living in the same house.
It’s ironic because when I’m back in uni, I make it a habit to call both my parents every day and talk to them.
I’ll tell my family eventually, but now is not the right time.
I’m somewhat optimistic and assume that they will be supportive. I hope when I tell them, they’d react by just shrugging their shoulders and saying okay. I just want them to acknowledge it and move on.
After my degree, I can compile everything I have done and just say, ‘now let me be me.’
In terms of meeting their expectations, I have done a lot for my family academically. Having a degree just makes me feel safe in case anything goes south.
I try not to worry about it too much. I just keep reminding myself that this is not how it’s going to be forever. There’s an expiry date to it.
When I come out, everything will change.
Mom and Dad, stop wondering if I’m gay, I’ll tell you when i’m ready
One of the things you can do to be supportive towards someone who has not come out is just let them be.
Don’t push them or ask them because if someone wanted you to know that they are gay, they would. You might think you are being subtle, but we often catch on to it.
Just give them time, and they will come out when they are ready. It’s a scary world out there for us and it’s a whole internal process to come to terms with.
We need to accept it ourselves and explore it on our own before we tell people who we are, so let us take our time.
For more stories like this, read: Coming out of the Closet: A Transgender Man’s Experience and How I Grew To Accept My Gay Cousin After I Began An Interracial Relationship
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