Mike, in his own words: “Being gay to me means that I’m able to be completely free and comfortable with who I am without feeling any shame, condemnation or judgement.
The greatest success/challenge in my life so far would definitely have to be coming to terms with my sexuality and realising that there was nothing wrong with who I truly was.
I knew I was gay ever since I was 8 or 9, but growing up in a strict conservative Vietnamese family meant that coming out was never an option in my mind. So from very early on, I learned to suppress that side of me and made sure that no one would ever question my sexuality. For years and years I tried to convince myself into thinking that I could live the straight life, fall in love with a girl, get married, have kids and have that house with the white picket fence; but that delusion wouldn’t last for long.
My teenage years were filled with curiosity and experimentation, which meant I had a lot of discreet experiences with other guys. Even through those experiences, I still considered myself to be straight if not bi. My later teenage years would soon get even more confusing due to me discovering the Christian faith. For years I had committed myself to the church and decided to live my life for God, and through that I was taught that living a homosexual life was a big sin. As the years progressed I knew in my heart God loved me no matter what and wasn’t concerned about my sexuality. I felt accepted by him and no one could tell me otherwise.
In my early 20’s I met a great man who would eventually become my first partner. We started out as friends with benefits and the more time I spent with him, the more I grew to like him. He helped me realise so much about myself and the LGBT community and helped me come to terms with my sexuality. For so long I had all these preconceived ideas of what it meant to be gay and after meeting so many of his friends, it showed me that homosexuals weren’t really all that different. They were human, loving, caring and different to how they were being depicted in the media.
I had reached a turning-point in my life and was certain it was time to finally free myself from feeling condemned, trapped and confused. That would mean that I would have to be honest to myself and to the people around me.
Coming out was honestly the most liberating thing I’ve ever had to do. As frightening as it was, the feeling of not having to hide and watch over my shoulder is something that I could never describe.
I think the LGBT community in Melbourne is very large and diverse. We all come from different walks of life and are all just trying to figure out life for ourselves.
The advice I would give to my younger self is to stay true to who you are, love yourself, know that things will work out in good time, and be bold and courageous during the toughest of times.”