Dear LGBT People,
The only thing more nerve racking than coming out is coming out for the first time. Uncertainty is a scary thing. And it’s exacerbated by the fact that the consequences can be dire should things not pan out as planned.
But for many of us, coming out is a rite of passage that we must pass through. And it certainly doesn’t help that there’s no script that one can follow in the coming out process.
So, here are 10 Asians from around the world who shared with us how their first coming out experience was like.
1. Gabriel Lu (30, Gay, Singaporean)
The first time I came out to someone was my best friend when I was 15. He was my first gay crush.
When I came out to him, he walked away from me and never spoke to me again, up till today. For 5 years in a row I wished him ‘Happy Birthday’ but he never said anything back to me.
2. Dylan Ray (20, Bisexual, Malaysian)
In hindsight, ridiculously weird but endearing for me. My dad and I fought a lot ever since my mum’s passing so our relationship is kind of rocky.
So one night we had a heart to heart talk and for some reason… we started to discuss about the human sexuality. The whole time during our conversation, I kept implying that I might be able to be in a relationship with another guy and he was saying things like “I am not homophobic, I am fine with gay people” and “many of my favourite singers are gay, like Elton John”.
Finally, before I went to bed, he asked me a question, “Can you kiss a guy? Cause I can’t do that.”
My reply was simple, “Yeah, I think I can.”
3. Sheni (28, Pansexual, Singaporean)
When I first started coming out I was in my teens maybe after 16. Most of my friends never made much of it, which helped. I wasn’t made to feel different. Straight or bi, or whatever I was, I was still the same person so it was easy to shrug off.
I’m glad my first few experiences weren’t too scary. It gave me the confidence I needed. And the more confident I became, the better I got at coming out and the better I got at dealing with negativity.
4. Audi Khalid (28, Gay, Singaporean)
I came out in the army, even marched all the way to the MO to declare 302 (which in hindsight is pretty stupid and unnecessary).
My straight friends had the reaction on the level of ‘Whatever, we already knew’. My relationships didn’t change, nobody treated me any lesser, and in some ways better, with a tinge of respect. I would actually chalk this up to the fact that after I came out of the closet, I didn’t transform into a flaming unicorn. I stayed the same, spoke the same, treated my friendships the same.
In fact, there was a short period of curiosity by the others in camp, and they interviewed me a little about being gay. So many misconceptions. I tried my best to treat sexuality as simply a matter of fact, and not a badge of honour, and dispelling myths. Of course, some things were difficult to hide, such as the promiscuous gay culture, and rampant drug use.
5. Dustin Sohn (26, Gay, American)
The first time I even addressed my sexual orientation was when I unexpectedly fell into my first relationship. I was 20.
I was in college on the east coast. I called my parents on the west coast one evening and I straight up told them, “I have a boyfriend.” I was extremely nervous, but at the same time I kind of knew how they would react: my mom would get overwhelmed and maybe cry a little (and she did), and my dad would be disappointed and get uncomfortable (and he was) but there was no way they could hate me. And if the phone call were to nosedive and crash, I could just hang up and not talk to them for a while. Though my mom was upset and didn’t understand it, she ended the conversation with, “you could kill someone and I wouldn’t love you any less.” And despite the implication that homosexuality was a sin, I found that really sweet of her.
I had no idea how my sister would react because I remember her expressing some homophobia when we were young kids, but she was the best and accepted it without a second of hesitation.
6. Sherry Sherqueshaa (24, Transgender, Singaporean)
It was a nightmare. For years I felt like I’m a criminal or alien. Everyone was staring at me. Talked about me. No one seemed to like my presence. Not only (did) it happen within my close relatives but also to the extent of (my) friends and colleagues.
7. Irwin Tseing (23, Gay, Australian)
Well my parents were initially shocked, my dad said I didn’t know what I was talking about and said that I wasn’t. All of my family told me to keep it a secret until I was 18 (I was 15 then). And my brother tried to pick at anything he could to make me feel uneasy, such as the way I spoke or my gestures.
8. Bryan Choong (39, Gay, Singaporean)
I came out to *Gabriel (not his real name), a guy I liked in polytechnic.
There was one day it was just me and Gabriel alone in the classroom. Gabriel told me that he heard that I was interested in someone in the class. Everyone assumed it was a girl. There were only 8 girls in the class.
I told him yes, I was interested in someone in the class and the person is in the class with me right now. There was dead silence and I was embarrassed so I quickly packed my things and left.
Gabriel called me that night and asked if I was ok. That was when I realised that there are straight men who are ok with gay people.
9. Lena Tan (29, Lesbian, Singaporean)
My mum outed me during one family dinner.
I’m not too sure what motivated my mum… It could be that she wanted to know what’s “wrong” with me because initially, she didn’t understand why I’m lesbian.
It was an emotional affair and tears were rolling down the faces of my sister and me because my mum thought I needed to see a psychiatrist but my younger sis stood up for me and kept defending (me), saying that I’m a perfectly fine human being. At the end of the session, there were no hard feelings, which is a huge burden off my shoulder.
Just because of my sexuality, that doesn’t change who I am as a person.
10. Gabriel Mark (20, Gay, Singaporean)
My first coming out experience wasn’t even planned, I didn’t want to either.
My mum got a phone call from my teacher… (and she) called my uncle, my sister and myself for a family discussion. I remember being in denial of any gay activities I had done back then until I just felt like I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I remember my uncle screaming at me “Do you like men? Huh? Do you? Tell me! Do you?” and I was like “Yeah, I do, I’m sorry but I do” and then obviously all hell broke loose and I was grounded – no school for a month, no phone, no laptop so basically no interaction between the outside world and myself.
What came after was something that broke my spirit and I was on the edge of giving up – I was brought to my family doctor who recommended getting medical checkups which lasted 2 weeks to make sure that all of the “gayness” was because of hormonal imbalance. I was arranged to meet with a psychiatrist as well. Trust me, I wanted to commit suicide, everything just happened so drastically, so fast, I didn’t have time to breathe.
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