In celebration of National Coming Out Day, I would like to share one of the greatest moments of my life: the story of how I came to terms with my sexuality, and how it changed my life.
I would like to start this story when I was a younger, so you would understand my reasons for hiding it. I would consider myself as one of those resilient wimps, who would cry when it’s necessary, but could shut everything down like a hooligan if I feel like it. I didn’t really know how things worked then, but as far as I know, I was very unaware of what being gay was, which was kind of ironic because two of my dad’s siblings are gay. I just didn’t know the difference, and like a lot of kids, I didn’t understand sexuality.
The word gay (bakla in our language) just sort of came to my awareness when my cousins, and my older sister started calling me one. I honestly do not know if they were the first ones to do this, but if my memory is right, I’m pretty sure that it was them. Being young, not knowing what things actually meant back then, I was offended, and it felt like no matter what I did, they would still call me gay.
As I got older, I sort of started to understand its meaning, and that is when I started fighting it. I really tried to stop myself from doing things that would be associated with being gay. Well, the main reason was actually to avoid the teasing, and I didn’t want my Dad to be disappointed, because he made it clear to me that he didn’t want me to be one, and as a kid, those kind of things are kind of burnt into your memory.
When I reached high school, I had girlfriends, and my personality started to change; I was very rigid – to an awkward level if I might add, I sort of became a bully, and I started to become very fearless. It almost felt like it was going away, but despite of that, I always knew that there were some instances when a guy would get my attention. I didn’t know what bisexuality was back then, so I really didn’t put that into account.
The summer before my senior year in high school, I experienced my first kiss with a guy. I was drunk, and although there was a part of me that was telling me to not like it, there was a bigger part of me that made me reluctant to stop. Weirdest thing is I didn’t even like the guy romantically, he was a really good friend, so I kept telling myself that it was just probably because of my drunkenness.
When I started attending university, I promised myself that I would use my time in college as an opportunity to get to know myself better. I wasn’t wrong, because not long in my first year in university, I started going out with guys. This went on until my third year, and I managed to keep it a secret that long.
The more guys I met, the more comfortable I felt about my sexuality, and the easier it was to accept the truth that I have been fighting and keeping from myself ever since I started to understand what my sexuality meant. Also during those years, I realized that my sexuality is not the effect of the kind of environment that I grew up on. It’s not the teasing, the guys I met, or the influence of the LGBT people I’ve encountered. I just knew that I was always meant to be like this, probably from the day I was born.
With all those realizations, and perhaps because I was too motivated to be proud of myself because I had a happy relationship, I decided that it was time for me to come out. It was in the summer of 2013, I was having my internship at a TV network with some of my classmates, and it happened at the condominium we were staying at. It felt to me like it was out of the blue, I just gathered them in a circle and told them that I was gay. Angelica, a really close friend wasn’t that surprised because she’s bisexual (her gaydar must always be on point, and I don’t mean that in an offensive way). I honestly do not know if Meg, Riza, and Shayne were shocked about it, but they were very supportive. After that, I started telling all my other friends, and classmates. It felt like the perfect time, because it was the last summer before I graduated, so I had another year to actually explore and enjoy my college life as an out gay man.
It was also in that year when I decided to come out to my older sister. We became so much closer after that, and she was also very supportive, and respectful with the decisions I make, one of which is to not tell the rest of the family yet because it didn’t feel like the right time.
It was after I graduated college when I felt comfortable telling everyone else. My Mom was proud, and even joked about how it runs in the blood. My Dad was also proud, and he was very, very supportive, it was through text, and I was laughing and crying at the same time during the entire conversation about it, because it is something that I felt was keeping me from having a close relationship with him growing up. My grandma said I do what I think is right, but she has two gay children, so I don’t think it was that big of an issue to her anymore.
Coming out is one of the greatest moments of my life. I definitely felt like a new person. It felt like weight was lifted off my shoulders, and it I made me feel more confident. It made me more open to helping other people who are struggling with their sexuality, and are going through the process of accepting themselves.
Whether you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, always remind yourself that you exist to make a change. For some of us, being comfortable with our own sexuality takes time, so don’t rush if you think you’re not ready yet. I encourage everyone who has been through the process to talk about coming out, because with it, we can raise awareness, and inspire others to find that greater courage.
P.S. I am hoping that someday, the world will turn into a place where coming out doesn’t have to be an emotional struggle.
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Once again, Happy National Coming Out Day! Please share your coming out stories in the comments below.