Stephane, in his own words: “Being gay is part of who I am but it’s just one part. It doesn’t define everything. Being an artist, being a French-Vietnamese: these are also part of who I am and therefore also define my personality. But nonetheless, the gay part is important and I’m happy with it.
I’m lucky enough to live in an accepting environment (family, friends, work) and in a big city, so I don’t really think about it very often. I don’t make such a big deal of it, at least at this stage of my life.
But if I’m lucky enough to be accepted here, I know it’s not the case everywhere. I’m very worried when I read reports on homophobia all over the world (including France). There is still a long way to go.
I think that for most people, one of the biggest challenges is to accept who you are and embrace it. Accept your differences whether it’s being gay in a mostly straight world, or whether it’s being Asian in a Western country. My challenge was to find my own balance. The challenge is perpetual but as I’m growing old, I learn to care less.
(With regards to coming out) It happened when I was a bit more than nineteen and still a student. I was living with my parents in the suburbs of Paris. At the time, I was already seeing my boyfriend and staying over at his place, in Paris. My mother was probably thinking that I was spending too much time in the city. More than what my studies required anyway. So she started to have doubts.
When she asked me, I told her the truth. She was extremely upset and for the next two weeks, she barely spoke to me. Surprisingly enough, my father was the one who tried to calm her down. As gays, we are often worry about our fathers’ reaction, but it turns out that, sometimes, fathers understand more, or faster. Go figure why. Anyway, after two weeks, one evening, I came home and found my mother unexpectedly in a good mood. And on top of it, she had prepared one of my favourite Vietnamese meals, one that takes time. In our culture, or at least in our family, we often express our feelings with food rather than words. And there, I could sense something had changed. Indeed, during that week-end, my mother told me that it occurred to her that she had to accept and love her children as they are. And that was it. It wasn’t that bad after all!
I’m not sure I’m an expert on (the gay community in Paris) since I don’t go out a lot and am not totally immersed in the gay community or connected to the LGBT organizations. I used to write for gay media when I was younger and I’m still interested in gay issues but I’m not sure I’m the best person to comment on the gay community. Today, my network of friends is a mix of gay, straight, young and old people from various worlds. That’s my « community » in a way.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Don’t be afraid to be different. It’s much more fun and much more exciting, after all.”