Hello, closeted you.
I’m here to give you a bunch of spoilers about your life, the biggest one being: it gets better. At some point, happiness will creep up on you. Being gay will feel less like a curse and eventually, entirely a blessing.
It doesn’t seem like it now because you feel completely alone. No sugarcoating it, this is how it’s going to feel for a while.
No one understands you now because you’re surrounded entirely by the wrong people. Your circumstances are not ideal, life will continue to be tough while you’re still spending the bulk of your time in conservative spaces like River Valley High and well, church.
What I want you to know is it’s not you. You’re not the problem. You’re going to understand this but only much later. These are the things that will happen to you which will help you get there:
Miraculously, you are going to meet a girl (yes, in a conservative space) who gets you. This will be your first “real” relationship. You will be terrible for each other but a ridiculous amount of fun will be had. This love is not going to last forever (and it really shouldn’t) but years later this will turn into a friendship that is like no other. This time round, please be kind to each other.
There is going to be a teacher you will look up to. She will somehow, unfortunately for her, mentor you through some of the most difficult times. Maybe don’t be such a brat? You very much regret this later on.
You are going to move out of your family home. Yes. You will be completely broken and unaware of your brokenness, breaking many other things in the process. But, this will give you the independence you need to be who you want to be. This will also give your family the space to accept you for who you are becoming.
Then you will meet a girl who asks you to live in Europe for 4 months with her. Make sure you go — this is one of the key things, if not the key thing, to realising that you are not the problem. You will see that what you know of Singapore and the experiences that you’ve had while living here is but a minuscule sliver of what the world really has to offer. It will be like struggling to stay afloat in a tiny but deep pond, realising that everywhere else is dry land.
Pro tip: Start saving in advance so you don’t have to work 2 jobs for 3 months to fund this trip. Another pro tip: You’re going to want to wife her, so, be smart.
You will find friends with whom you can be completely open about your gay self. No more of that “yea we hang out but I don’t talk about my love life” bullshit. This is important because there will be no more hiding. They will get you. Their support will give you the confidence to be out — in public, at work, wherever you want to be out.
Okay so you’ve probably realised that these are less “things” and more, well, people. I guess that’s because your journey to self-acceptance will heavily rely on the company you keep, the people you choose to love. So don’t get stuck in conservative, queer-loathing circles — really, get out of those, stat.
There’s an incredibly painful and ultimately rewarding journey ahead of you, but we need you to do a couple of things:
Watch Saving Face (2004, Alice Wu) immediately. Actually, watch all the queer films you can find. The happy ones will give you courage, show you new possibilities, and help you imagine better days. The sad ones will light a fire within you, one that makes you want to fight the world’s ignorance and cruelty.
Be open to meeting new people. It’s uncomfortable because we’re introverts but we were dealt bad hands being born into church, okay?
Work on yourself. There’s just a bit more to life than being gay (although your whole life will be informed by it), and your books, photography, art, and other interests will keep you going when it gets tough.
Ready for the final spoiler?
There might never be a grand reveal sort of coming out. You will be 26 (as I am right now) and realise that it hasn’t happened yet. You’ll have never say “I’m gay” to your parents. What will happen, however, is that you will openly live with your girlfriend and your shared 1-year old dog in a nice little apartment. When you visit your parents, your mom will cook your girlfriend’s favourite food. God forbid you visit without her, because your dad will ask you repeatedly why she isn’t there.
At the same time, life will seem like a never-ending coming out. Every new colleague. Every social introduction. Every time you slip in “my girlfriend” into conversation, you are letting it be known. Sometimes you don’t feel like it, and that’s okay too. But you will get to a point where coming out is no longer fearful or dreadful. It will be filled with so, so much pride.
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