There is just no room in the closet to grow. The walls made from your own guilt and shame constrict your throat, preventing you to speak, killing you inside with every breath you dare to take. You're stuck in an endless loop of paranoia, fear and self-doubt, surrounding every thought you have and every move you make. You're all alone inside and honestly, death seems to be better than knowing this is how you'll have to live the rest of your life.
"Bakit ang lambot ng anak mo?"
When you hear of all of this negativity and hatred for homosexuals around you, especially within the walls of your own home, you'll feel like you're this freak of nature, an unholy mistake, someone who's not supposed to exist who's bound to burn in the flames of hell. Of course, you'll be in denial and do everything you can to change, to fix yourself. You can hide and pretend to be something you're not for as long as you'd like. But, when you're so caught up with all of the lies, you begin to not have a single clue as to who you even really are.
I was always feminine growing up. I would want to play with my sisters' dolls and my favorite movie was "The Little Mermaid." I was really good at household chores like cleaning, cooking and I was the only one in the house who knew how to sew. Didn't I have the perfect makings of a suburban housewife? I just had the wrong body. I've been bullied all of my childhood and even when I didn't even know what being gay really meant at that age, it was already established that that was something I am not supposed to be.
"Sino crush mo?" "Wala, studies first ako eh."
I first started realizing I liked boys when I was in grade 2. I didn't understand why I felt such strong feeling towards my best friend. It was weird because I became so possessive to the point where I wanted to spend so much time with only him. When the first string of insults and comments were thrown, that's when I think I started distancing myself from everyone else, keeping my mouth sealed and not making even a single friend all throughout school.
I threw myself on my school work, focused only on that, not really because I wanted to learn. I did great in school more because I wanted to get high grades. I wanted to redefine myself as this super smart guy and then, the insults would stop and then, the bullies won't be able to touch me.
Even when we were cramped at home or in the middle of a class full of students, I was always alone. I didn't have anyone and that made me think that I didn't need anyone. I grew to be independent, but that also turned me selfish. Something that has stuck even until this day. I only helped and cared about myself, because nobody ever gave a second to lend me a hand or showed me how it was to be compassionate. How do you freely give yourself away to other people when you don't even accept yourself as you truly are?
The silence I enveloped my everyday was drenched with the seemingly endless series of disappointments from my parents. No matter what I did, nothing was going to change, and things were just getting worse and worse. I didn't know what else to do, but what I'm supposed to. And that was to study, study and study.
I wasn't smart to start with, learning to read only at grade 2. But, I did learn to work extra hard, pushing myself harder than everybody else in the room because I wanted to become the best. I felt like I needed to prove to everyone that just because they think I'm gay, doesn't mean I cannot succeed. I needed them to know that just because they think I'm gay doesn't mean I cannot make something out of myself. I wanted them to eat their words and regret any thought they might have about me, because I am clearly better than them.
And then, I was supposed to die. School was the only thing I knew and I didn't see a life after that. The medals, honors and awards didn't make me happy or even gave me any satisfaction. Journaling saved my life. It was as simple as writing down the words "I am gay" on a scrap of paper and facing that reality in front of you. Once you take something out of your mind and release it onto the world, and then you begin to see this path laid out in front of you leading to a future you can actually have.
"Eh kasi eto yun.." "Sasabihin ko na.." "Oh my god, am I'm actually doing this?"
I've grown more in just the 3 years since I came out than I had for all of my childhood until college. Will I say that my life was completely changed the second I came out to a friend? Nope, the world didn't actually crumble around me like I always imagined it would. But, I was able to take my first breath of air when the words finally came out of my mouth. I saw hope that things might actually get better and it did. I can finally smile, be happy and claim my life as mine and nobody else's.
During the first few months, I was only ready to tell the people I trusted so my coming out was a very slow process. I told my friends I was gay one by one, because I wanted to have their honest reaction. I wanted them to see that I was still the same person and how thankful I was for our friendship. It was hard every time like the words were always just stuck inside my throat and I needed to coax it a few times before I finally spit them out.
Everybody doesn't need to know, but I was no longer hiding it. Like at that point if somebody did ask, I would just say yes. But I admit it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable when you're hanging out with a friend group and not everybody knows that you're out already. But it was clear that something has changed with me and I wasn't afraid to show it. It has gotten so light and easy now, like it's the first thing I say when I introduce myself and make new friends.
"The truth will set you free."
Honesty is freeing and it allowed so much positivity into my life. I stopped pretending to be this bookish school nerd who would rather be alone and started discovering who I am and what I actually liked. I no longer saw the world for how cruel it was, but how colorful it actually is. I started to become more open to change, recognize the great traits that I have and admit to the faults that I'm not so proud of. Lifting that burden of being paranoid about someone finding out, made me have a clearer view of who I was as a person that point in my life: someone who was actually worthy of love.
I would say it was actually such a radical change like people who knew me from several years ago won't recognize me as the person I am today. I no longer have the resting downward frown, keeping my head low and my voice soft. Now, I keep my chest up, have a smile on my face and voice out my opinions when they need to be heard. And you know what? I am so bida-bida at times (it's probably annoying), because I am no longer afraid to step up and stand out. I take opportunities while I can because I want to take charge of the life I decided to continue living.
Being gay is just one of the many wonderful things about me. I am also smart, strong, ambitious and kind-hearted. And now, I have arrived at a place when I am so secure and confident as who I am as a person that I no longer care about what other people think of me. I am certain about all of my actions and decisions and I am more accepting about different people being a part of my life. I am just so open and thirsty for experience, adventure and knowledge that the world has to offer. The time to do what you want and be who you want to be is now.
Coming out is a journey you have to go through alone until you realize that you don't have to. If you have the people you trust most in the world, you shouldn't fear taking that first step anymore. But, don't pressure yourself and make sure that you're ready. And when you finally are, it will be the best decision you will have ever made in your entire life.
"Here we go.."
So Mama and Papa, the whole world already knows except for you two. "I'm gay" and I am saying this because I love you. I hate how I can never tell you anything and how we can't have a relationship because you don't know anything about me. It hurts how I can't share stories with you about how happy I am ever since I accepted who I am. I have changed and am finally growing to be the man I want to become. Every grade that I earned in school, and everything I achieved was to make you proud and for you to remember me as a son you loved.
Our family isn't perfect and we struggled for the longest time, but you taught us how to survive and take on whatever challenge life throws at us. And, I am always going to be thankful for all of effort both of you have put into our family. I wish I could have treated you better and shown you more love, but hiding who I am stops me from doing that. I don't want to be selfish anymore and I want to give more of myself to you because I want you to know how much I appreciate both of you. I hope you understand what I am trying to say. I don't expect you to accept me, but just know that I am still your son and wherever I am in the world, that will always be true.
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Congratulations for having the courage to find out. And congratulations for the journey. It wasn't easy but you came out a winner. So, cheers to you for more wins!
Parents know what their kids become. They usually not say anything as they usually wait for the kids to tell them. Honesty is always a satisfying feeling and makes us breathe properly.
It must have been a struggle for you knowing that your parents were the ones who didn't know about you. If I am on your mom shoes, I would wish for my son to speak up to me. Your story is inspiring.
Very inspiring article. So proud of you because you manage to tell the world who you are. Happy pride month.
This is well-written. I know more people will be inspired reading about your journey. I'm looking forward to read more about you. :)
Im so happy for you or what you have become just by being you. Keep it up and continue discovering more of what you can become in the future
I admire you for your courage to speak up about this. I wish that time will come that being gay/bi or whatever is normal and that people like you don't need to answer all these questions.
Thank you for being brave to share your story with us. This will inspire many people I'm sure. :) You have my ear to listen whenever you need one :)