What is coming out? What is the significance of coming out? Does every LGBT person have to go through this? What drives a person to “come out of the closet”?
My new birthday is in October 21, 2009. It was the day I came out to my mom, and the day I felt all my burdens melt away when I told her that I am a lesbian. I still remember everything that happened that day. I dropped my sister to school in the morning, and I also came out to her that morning when the right opportunity came. My sister and I were listening to Y100.7 FM Miami, and they were having a talk segment about Adam Lambert’s photo shoot with a magazine I can’t recall the name of. They mentioned about his sexual orientation, and it hit me, “this is the right moment or never”, I thought. I was scared for my life, and this was only my sister that I was planning to come out to that morning. So, I came out to my sister, and I was relieved when she told me that she did not mind if I’m gay or not. In fact, she told me that she loves me anyway. I was relieved, and that time, the only people in my family that I have not told that I’m gay are my parents.
Unfortunately, my dad was out of the country at the time, so I had to face my mom only about this. I had so many chances throughout the day to come out to her, but I was so scared that I thought for the worst. I thought she was going to kick me out, she was going to reject me, and the worst of all thoughts I had before I came out to her, I thought she was going to disown me. Those thoughts scared the living days out of me, and I braced for the worst.
My mom and I went to play tennis at approximately 5 PM that day, and as usual, I was so scared of being around her because the thought of coming out to her at the time consumed every second of my life, which filled my life with fear everyday of my life up to the last cell of my body. I was terrified.
I did my preparations days before I came out to her. I asked my best friend if I could stay at her house just in case I get kicked out of the house. I calculated how much money I had left in my bank account to see how much money I would have left. I started looking for jobs that I can do in order for me to sustain myself in the future so just in case I get kicked out, I can support myself and pay rent and other expenses.
At 8PM, when my mom was getting ready to go to bed, I finally had the courage to come out to her and tell her face to face about me. Our conversation was in Tagalog, but it somewhat went like this:
“Mom, I want to tell you something. I’m a lesbian”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Yes. I’ve always been like this. It’s not wrong to be me”
“I just don’t want you to do the wrong thing. I want you to have a good life, finish your education, have a family, and lead a good path in life”
“I already am doing that. I am in school getting my college degree. I don’t smoke, do drugs, drink, or do anything stupid that can harm me”
“I don’t want you to be around that girl anymore [referring to my ex-girlfriend who broke up with me August 2009]. Forget about her, and leave her alone. She’s an only child to her family.”
“I don’t talk to her anymore. We broke up already, and we don’t talk to each other anymore.”
“I just want you to do the right thing. I still love you, but I don’t like that you’re a lesbian”
“What can I do? I never chose to be like this.”
“I still love you. Just do the right thing. Pray the rosary. Finish your studies. Get married. Have a family. Lead a good life and the right path.”
My talk with her lasted for an hour, and it felt like longest hour of my life. I was dreading for the worst. Will I get kicked out? Will I be disowned by my parents? Will I be left to fend for myself for the rest of my life? Will I be rejected?
The fear that comes with coming out is a legitimate fear. I never felt so much fear in my life, and it took so much of my time and energy everyday leading to that day. I was consumed by that disabling fear to the point where each time I am with my family, all I could think of was
“What are they going to say or think when they tell them I am a lesbian?
And also, every time my mom would ask me something, I would whisper quietly this phrase “Mom, did you know I’m a lesbian? I want to tell you, but I’m too scared what you’re going to say to me.”
After coming out to her, OH MY GOSH! It was the best feeling ever. I felt that so much burden was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt so happy. I was jumping for joy inside my heart. “I’m not going to get kicked out! I’m still a part of my family! I’m finally not hiding anymore secrets to my family! I can finally be open about me!”, I thought. Even though my mom wasn’t 100% okay with me being a lesbian, I thought to myself that it is okay. She still loves me, and I know that by telling her about me, it is a big shocker to her. I finally broke down the image she had for me. It was difficult but I did it. I came out, and it felt great!
What facilitated my “coming out” process? Actually, I’ve been coming out to so many people ever since August of 2009 when my ex broke up with me. No one really knew I was in a relationship with someone because it was a hidden relationship. She broke up with me, and I was devastated. This devastation lead to me going crazy because I was in the closet at the time. She did not want me to come out, but I strongly wanted to. Finally, without her around even though my heart longed for her, I had to do what is right. That resulted in my coming out to almost everyone I know in my life both here in the United States and back home in the Philippines.
So, is it worth to come out? It all depends on your living situation. There are some instances where coming out can lead to something great like acceptance from your family, but there are some instances also where coming out is not recommended, such as the high chance of being disowned by your family, and possibly putting your life in harm’s way, and in some cases, possibly death.
Be true to yourself, and ask yourself this question: Is it really worth staying in that cramped, dusty closet filled with fear and self-loathing and denial? There’s more to life than hiding, and that my friend, is living your life the way you want freely without fear and self-denial.