Dear Straight People,
Meet 21-year old Singaporean Xuan, the youngest person to be featured on Dear Straight People.
Two years ago, I published Xuan’s coming out story. The third feature of the Out Of The Closet series, Xuan’s story quickly went viral. Back then, Dear Straight People didn’t even have a Facebook page. But the strength of Xuan’s story alone impacted the community enough for it to get over 1,000 shares.
Unfortunately, the attention proved too much. A few weeks later, I had to take Xuan’s story down as it was causing him too much tension at home.
Xuan’s story was not the only coming out story I had to take down. Neither will his be the last.
It’s very easy to get distracted by the outpouring of support that occurs whenever someone does a coming out story. But the positive reception that you see online does not truly represent the whole picture.
The left may have won the cultural war. But a side effect of that is that whatever consequences that happen in the aftermath of coming out publicly happens offline. I’ve had interviewees called in by their employers and questioned over their ‘agenda’. Many faced hell at home for bringing ‘shame’ to the family name.
So you see, the likes and shares that you see online are merely just that, likes and shares. There are a lot of forces at work that don’t want our stories to be heard. But I stand by my belief that coming out stories are important. Simply because they help to humanise a community that has long been thought of as inhuman.
Thankfully, Xuan feels the same way too. And that is why Xuan has decided to come out once again to share his story in the hopes of inspiring others like him.
Xuan was just 3-years old when he first gushed to his mum about how handsome he found an actor to be.
At that age, Xuan had no inkling of what that actually meant except that he just found men to be really attractive. It wasn’t till he was 9-years old that Xuan understood the concept of sexuality. And that was when he first identified as gay
I saw abs on TV and I’m like “yeah, I totally enjoy these“.
Unlike his sassy online persona, Xuan is actually quite the introvert in person.
Growing up, his quiet and gentle nature made him an easy target for bullies in primary school. Being taunted with derogatory terms was something of a regular affair. He also found it difficult to relate to the other boys in school, never quite understanding their love for soccer and basketball.
Fortunately, things took a turn for the better when Xuan started secondary school.
In high school, Xuan had a supportive network of friends. That gave him the courage to come out to his close friends, except that it didn’t quite go as planned.
I came out with my best friend in sec3 and by the end of the day, the whole school knew!
Thankfully, there wasn’t much of a backlash to Xuan’s revelation and 95% of the school population was supportive of him. In fact, his courage in coming out actually spurred others in his school to do the same:
I guess people stopped hiding who they are when I was in sec 5 because people saw how comfortable I was being myself.
It’s one of my proudest moments, leaving a legacy behind.
Coming out in secondary school wasn’t something unique to Xuan’s school. In fact, research has shown that the coming out age tends to become lower with every generation and for Gen Z, it is increasingly common to see them come out in their early teens. Xuan observes that:
I guess that society’s view on the LGBT community is shifting, so naturally, the coming out age has become younger. Let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure others who have been in the (gay) community longer (than me) didn’t come out when they were a teen.
My classmate told me that she knows a few people who came out when they were 12. When I was 12, I was still in the closet… I’m just glad to see that at such a young age, they’re already so comfortable in their *gay* skin.
Check out the rest of the article below to find out more about Xuan’s experience as a gay man as well as learn some fun facts about him.
1. How was your first coming out experience to your family like?
I initially wanted to come out to my mum at 18, but circumstances changed. But one learning point from this saga is: never come out to anyone while they’re driving. It’s not a smart move.
Other than that, my cousin knows and we’re pretty much very close to each other.
My dad on the other hand, is more traditional and conservative.
2. How is your mum coping with it?
It took her 4 years to accept my sexuality and the concept of her son having a boyfriend. But I’m proud to say that it’s a milestone I never thought we would’ve reached.
She did hint to me about Pink Dot 2017, and asked if I went. While I’m still not ready to share my entire life with her, I did hint if she wanted to go to Pink Dot 2018 with me next year and she said, “see how next year”.
She has been very open about the LGBT community recently and I guess I have the counsellor from two years ago to thank.
3. What was your most memorable coming out experience so far?
My most significant one would be coming out to my mother. Because it took her 4 years to accept my sexuality and I’m thankful for it because this year, I’ve started to introduce to her the concept of me having a boyfriend (though I don’t plan to have one any time soon)
4. In retrospect, have you ever regretted coming out so young?
Well… It’s a catch-22. It has benefitted and cost me.
5. What advice do you have for gay people still hiding in the closet?
Hold your head up high, for there is nothing to be ashamed of. Take your time to be comfortable in your own skin; you don’t have to come out if you’re not ready.
You have an entire community behind your back and you’re definitely not alone.
6. What do you think is the biggest misconception straight people have about the gay community?
We’re not a disease that requires a cure, nor are we a pride of lions that needs to be tamed.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Always be true to yourself.
Written by Sean Foo
Hobbies: Reading, kayaking, watching netflix and taking a stroll
Aspiration: To pursue a career in the field of counselling or social work
First Celebrity Crush: Tay Ping Hui
Guilty Pleasure(s): Dining and watching a movie alone; eating junk food; dining on 7-11’s Nasi Briyani; Binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Something interesting not many people know about: I think most of my friends know that I’m not particularly a friendly person at first. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not someone that makes friends easily and I have a ‘jiaobin’ face. Which is why I need a human buffer (someone I know) to introduce us and after I warm up, I annoy them with my AMAZING (not lame) jokes and puns and they regret befriending me ever since (‘:
I have body image issues (yes I still have them), but I’m not allowing my demons to run my life.
Once again, Dear Straight People would like to thank Xuan for sharing his story with us.
If you would like to keep up to date with how Xuan is doing, you can connect with him through his Twitter or check out his personal blog.
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Out Of The Closet: Sean Foo Shares His Story
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