Dear Queer 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 12 Asians from around the world who shared with us how their first coming out experience was like.
1. Jono Kwan (24, Gay, Australian)
I had one really really good friend, Ivy, we had grown up in church together and had always been such kindred spirits. Ivy and I got really drunk in a park near my house one afternoon, and
I said “Ivy, I have something to tell you”.
“What?”, she said.
“Ivy, I’m gay.”
“Well Jono, I’m lesbian!”
Both our jaws dropped to the floor.
2. 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.
3. Faliqh (29, Gay, Singaporean)
I was disturbed by the feelings I felt towards other boys in secondary school so I came out to some of my close secondary school friends.
However, they were not supportive and they were quite homophobic. They told me they liked me but they didn’t like that side of me. After opening up to them, the friendship we once had felt strained.
4. Jack Lim (32, Gay, Malaysian)
Coming out from my family was a story by itself. Coming to a full self-acceptance, took a journey which happened a few years later. It spawned from a difficult break-up when I was still working in Starbucks. I actually shared with my fellow baristas.
To my surprise, all of them – from different races and religious backgrounds offered me love and support. I wasn’t treated any lesser, in fact my coming out made our friendship stronger and I still keep in touch with all of them up till this very day.
That’s when I realised, sometimes, our friends and the people around us are kind, welcoming and more loving than we presumed them for.
5. Sherry Sherqueshaa (24, Trans, 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.
6. Dylan Ray (21, 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.”
7. 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.
8. 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.
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. Rene Mayo (34, Gay, Filipino)
I didn’t really go through the process of coming out. It’s like my family knows about it. We just don’t really talk about it.
The first friend I told was a female friend during my third year of college. She figured it out because gay people would just come up to talk to me.
11. Laurindo Garcia (44, Gay, Filipino)
My first coming out experience was to a co-worker at a restaurant I was working at when I was in university. I was 18 years old.
I clearly remember seeing the words fall out of my mouth; “I have something to tell you. I am gay as well”.
Maybe I felt safe telling him because of the semi-detached nature of work relationships, it was highly unlikely that our friendship circles were connected.
12. Alex Teh (22, Trans, Singaporean)
The first friend I told didn’t have much of a reaction.
She was just like ‘Oh cool’ lol.
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