Dominic, in his own words: “In many ways, my journey as a gay man has mirrored that of a phoenix – a bold and fiery creature that, upon death, rises from its own ashes to live again as a stronger and more beautiful being.
Why a phoenix?
Each step of my life journey has warranted a necessity for personal re-creation, not just in terms of locale and lifestyle, but also in regards to my sexual orientation. I knew from a fairly young age that I was different from other boys, but at that time I didn’t attribute my behaviors to being gay. The concept was still foreign to me, and in my mind, there was nothing strange or sinful about finding other men attractive. I just happened to enjoy baking, Disney princess anthems, and Jem and the Holograms as much as more “male-appropriate” activities like basketball, video games, and WWF: Monday Night Raw. Things started to shift in fifth grade when my Catholic elementary school’s heteronormative curriculum emphasized the importance and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. This was the first time I was able to pinpoint a personal transformation incited by my innate attraction to men.
When I came out to my parents and siblings at the age of eighteen, I assumed (or at least hoped) it was a one-time deal. Paralyzed with fear by rampant stereotypes of Asian men as strict, traditional, and unaccepting, I couldn’t fathom how my Filipino father would react to the news that his oldest son was homosexual. I soon discovered, however, that my mother, the one whom I suspected would be most supportive, struggled for a long time with my “confession.”
Life has since helped me realize that gay men never truly stop coming out, even if doing so becomes easier over time. With each move I made to a new city or country (and there have been many), I found metaphorical closet doors waiting to be opened. Sometimes I flung the door open enthusiastically. Other times I found myself knocking on the door and secretly hoping that someone would open it for me. Once or twice I simply stood there, staring blankly at the closet door, petrified of the uncertainties that existed on the other side.
And yet, regardless of how I’ve chosen to approach this ongoing process, whether in my hometown of San Francisco, among fellow exchange students in Barbados, as a government worker in rural Japan, or as a non-profit administrator in New York City, I seem to have always tried recognizing my sexual orientation as a small part of who I am, not something that dictates the type of life I can and will lead. I am a big brother, uncle, cousin, son, and grandson. I have a passion for music, dance, and artistic performance. I play competitive volleyball, enjoy cycling, dabble in photography, and absolutely love to travel. I work in non-profit administration. In addition to all of this, I happen to identify as gay, and I’m okay with that. At least now, anyway. It took me a long time to reach that point, but I’m elated that I’m finally at peace with the issue.
Living among different cultures in different parts of the world has also helped me come to terms with my personal boundaries, biases, and expectations as a gay man. As those boundaries, biases, and expectations shift, and as I continue to become more comfortable with my sexuality, I find that I grow more and more excited about the process of self-discovery, acceptance/rejection, and, ultimately, rebirth. Fourteen years ago, the thought of being gay, let alone the process of admitting that to someone, confused and terrified me. At thirty-two years old, however, I now know that the only thing holding me back from being the man I dream of becoming is myself. As cliché as it may sound, the sky truly is the limit, and I know deep down that my friends, family, and loved ones will do everything they can to help me succeed.
Not because I’m gay, but because I’m me.”