Mitsuhiro, Purchasing Superviser, Vancouver B.C., Canada

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Mitsuhiro, in his own words: “For a long time, being gay meant obstacles, fear, depression and hatred, and even now this is something I sometimes have to face. I also can say being gay means moments of joy, love, affection, excitement and peace, when I am with someone who I love, or I am surrounded with friends who accept me just as who I am.

Having said that, being gay is simply one element of me. I used to think being gay gave me an extra obstacle in my life, so I thought my life was more difficult than others’, but apparently not. Being gay doesn’t define me completely, it is only a part of me, but it is a part that completes me and gives me strength to live my life. All the negativity I heard and felt were obstacles once, but I always figured out how to deal with it. To help me do that, I was lucky enough to have people to help me.

In other words, being gay brought me understanding friends who have gone through similar experiences and accepted me just as a person. Sharing experiences and getting advice helped me to be the person who I wanted to be. All their support helped me lay my foundation, and I am still building myself.

Being gay gives me more freedom to explore the world and encounter people from all around. I have met people in difference circumstances and some people were very inspiring. I believe that there is no coincidence, that all encounters and incidents have meaning. This is probably the greatest upside of being gay.

Now there is so much happening all over the world: People are finally gaining equal rights in the US. “Marriage Equality” and “Equal Rights” are great terms and are the right way to think about these issues. I hope Pride Day one day becomes about celebrating all people just for who they are, where I can be proud of myself as being gay because I’m proud of myself as a human being. That is my goal.

My first relationship lasted about 6 years, including three years of long distance. We were young. One day everything was so delightful, but the next day everything became dramatic. Once he went abroad to work, three years of long distance changed everything. I don’t remember how I managed my emotions for three years, but sad to say I failed to maintain the relationship. I tried to reach out to him, but he didn’t respond, so I gave in. To be honest, I gave up on him.

After a while, I met someone and we were in a relationship for 2 years. That was my second and last relationship so far. I actually liked myself in this relationship because I learned and grew a lot. I was so dramatic, very emotional and more self-centred before, but I somehow figured out what should be like loving someone. I guess I learned how to put myself in someone else’s shoes. He moved away to pursue his career and he tried to keep a long distance relationship, which I never would have expected. I appreciated these efforts, but it didn’t last long and we ultimately broke up. I chose to never see him again, but he brought two very important people into my life, so now I am looking forward to seeing him again one day to say, “Thank you”.

I fell in love with someone after being single for many years. That was the first time I fell in love at first sight. I thought it was just a crush, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately it was only felt in one direction. I don’t want to disclose more details, but I wanted to mention him because he became important to me by helping me realize that I still have the power to love, and teaching me happiness can be found in any circumstances. (It’s actually tough to think that way sometimes, but I’m trying my best. Haha!)

I am still looking for my soulmate. Knock knock! Are you out there? lol

I don’t really know what the gay community is like (in Vancouver) now. The older I get, the less I go out. I gradually stopped being in the “scene” so much.

I bet it has been changed since I was in my 20’s. It is more diverse since the internet become more popular and social networking system revolutionized the gay community, including Vancouver. I can’t deny that it changes my social circle as well.

This isn’t really a comment on the gay community here, it’s more that I never really laid roots here. I’m still trying to figure out how to fit in, not just in the gay community, but in society in general. I realize not that fitting in is not about the place, but is about figuring out who you are and having confidence in yourself. With these things, you will be fine no matter where you are (although there are still places where it is not safe to be out).

(Coming out) This was the toughest thing in my life.

To come out to myself.

I knew I was different but I didn’t know I was gay. It was hidden in a dark room for a long time until I moved to Canada at the age of 25. I met a Canadian guy who wanted to learn Japanese and I wanted to learn English. We started as language exchange partners at the beginning and became friends.

One day I was invited over to his place and to watch some movies. In the middle of the movie, he kissed me and we ended up making out. I didn’t mind; it was rather nice indeed. And that was how I came out to myself. It did, however, take a long time to accept myself because society, my community, and my circle of friends didn’t allow me to do so. Most likely, I was scared of not knowing where coming out was going to lead. My idea of being gay was something unacceptable, discriminated and hated.

It took me a half a year to start going out to gay clubs and bars. I had no gay friends except the Canadian guy, so it was a big relief to meet other gay guys, especially Japanese gay guys. It made me feel better to know that I was not alone.

To come out to my best friends.

My best friend came from Japan to visit me in Vancouver in 1996. He actually came here to ask my opinion about his relationships with two girls (very bad lol). He was with one girl for a long time but it was a long-distance relationship, while he met another girl at his work and was considering marrying her. I kind of knew that he didn’t come here to ask my opinion, he basically needed me to affirm his decision.

The last day before he left for Japan, I felt I needed to tell him about myself. He came all the way here to share a big life decision. Yes, I need to tell him! Oh my god, words didn’t come out of my mouth for 5 to 6 hours and all I told him was unimportant bullshit. He must have been so suspicious. Finally I confessed to him, and there was a silence for a while, maybe only a few seconds, but it felt like forever. Then he broke the silence and said “It’s okay. You are the same person I’ve known for a long time and it won’t change a bit.” He also mentioned that things I said before make sense to him. What did I say? I didn’t remember at all.

I told him not tell anyone, but he couldn’t keep it in himself and told another friend of ours, and I was glad he did. Knowing the fact that they accepted me as a person, and nothing changed a bit, gave me so much relief. We are still best friends although we rarely see each other.

To come out to my family.

After while, I came out to my sister. She is only a year younger than I am, so we basically grew up just like twins. She wanted everything I had and wanted to play with me and my friends, but I hated it so much. So we fought a lot when we were kids. I think I was a very mean brother to her. The older we became, the relationship got better, especially after I moved to Canada, and we started talking more.
Anyway, she was surprisingly cool about it. I guess I was more shocked than she was.

I was picked on sometimes when I was a kid. Bullying is not something new; kids can be very cruel. Some called me “jellyfish,” “queer” or “sissy boy.” It is funny that they already sensed that I was “queer” long before I found out about myself.

My sister and I grew up with a stern father, and he often lost his temper when my sister and I started fights. He wanted me to be strong. He put me in a baseball team and a martial arts club. Feeling afraid of my father, I was a boy trying to get my parents’ approval and make them proud. My parents ran a bar at night, so my grandma raised my sister and me. At 12 we moved to a new house a little farther from the bar, so we sometimes didn’t see each other for a week even though we lived under the same roof. The lack of communication with my parents affected my relationship with my family.

When I reached 15, I stopped being a good son. My grades dropped and I barely graduated from high school so I couldn’t attend the university I wanted. I could have gone to some other universities. After 2 years studying for the university entrance exams, I didn’t feel right with what I was doing, so I quit. I was lost for 2 years; I lost all my confidence and my motivation in Japan. I was looking for a way out. Then I found the way, it was “coming to Canada.” Some people said I was refusal to face reality, but for me it was facing reality.

I suppose a part of me always knew my sexual orientation. When I look back, I believe that I needed to leave everything behind so I could free myself. After I left Japan, I was so relieved and I didn’t miss home much. I felt more delightful being away from my family rather than missing them.

In a few weeks, it will be 20 years anniversary since I moved to Canada.
I came here to find who I am and now, ironically, I feel like going back to my origin. I was debating whether it was better for my parents know about me or not. If they would suffer from knowing that I am gay, maybe I should just shut my mouth and spare them. But I am starting to think they have a right to know about me. When I think about it, I feel it would be a pity that they would leave this world without knowing anything about me. I will probably never understand what being a parent is like, but as I get older, I understand a bit what they think about children.

I recently learned that my mom has colorectal cancer and it spread to her liver. My dad also had a surgery for his cancer in 2012.
It is time… my real coming out story is “coming out” soon, I hope.

(Advice I’d give to my younger self)

“Remember you had heard ‘Welcome’ when you were born.”
**from a song called “誕生”(Tan-jo which means ‘Birth’) by 中島みゆき (Miyuki Nakajima, a Japanese Singer)

4 comments

  1. mike plambeck

    wow! enjoyed your story.Usually I can respond with wisdom (?) form past experiences but you know who you are.You appear a caring, loving person follow your heart be happy.

  2. kreemer

    Wow, you have a great story!
    I’m African and I identify with a lot of it.
    I didn’t know I was gay until I was in college in London.
    It was a shock and I nearly killed myself.
    It took a long time to recover.
    I told everyone as soon as I could though….the living a lie was killing me.
    My father was very disappointed. Nothing was the same after that. I have to tell you though that when he died in 2005, something in his eyes told me he finally got it. I was able to say I love you, and mean it.
    I believe in God and the afterlife and somewhere I know – I just know – it was the best choice of my life. He can is my father. And like him or not, understand him or not, I owed him the truth about my life. I could not cheat him, or myself out of that experience in life. It’s the only life we have and I didn’t want to be dreaming about having given him everything after he had gone.
    The only thing is I feel like I left him a lump of shit!
    Ah.
    I think about it a lot but you know what? It’s the thing I am most proud of, in my life.
    He asked me not to tell my mum…I did anyway. I wonder about that sometimes.
    She has Dementia now and forgets things.
    I found a boyfriend at forty three, imagine!
    I never thought it would happen, I had waited so long and was so down.
    It happened.
    I watch a video lot of porn and there was no instant physical chemistry but…we feel in love!
    And love knows no boundaries, had no limits.
    We do everything together and I feel that life made it so that we’re perfect company for each other.
    We’re completely different!
    So, in that way, perhaps never letting go of what you want – really want – comes through in the end. And love does feel like it’s supposed to. No flashing lights and fireworks. Just gentle laughter… And GREAT sex. Great not for the reasons you’d think…. we’re awkward people… I couldn’t even come for months after I met him, but because we trusted each other, were so surprised and shocked that this was happening, and immediately made the choice to go as deep as we could. So it was easy – and fun – to be kind with each other, to forgive or shortcomings and be not embarrassed to learn how to have sex.
    My mother loves us both so much, and we love her – how much of it is because she forgets and how much because she’s the best I don’t know.
    In Kenya, is still very dangerous to be homosexual and out, gays are not accepted publicly and we certainly do not feel appreciated, understood or loved, but on the other hand, we’re such a forward thinking middle class that it’s the same world wide and our friend know and love us.
    More difficult is dealing with my spiritual life, and my sense of honoring goodness and life when all around be points to being a bad person.
    We both have problems with low self esteem and confrontation, and a constant feeling of not being good enough.
    Yet. Life is good and we are enjoying ourselves and each other.
    Going home? I would say this. You will eventually end up there, so many of us do. But for now, concentrate on being where you are.
    You are Canadian.
    Because life is so long, we forget that actually we are living in the GOODNESS of our choices, especially those that are made for freedom, and it begins to look like the past was better, or that now, perhaps we’re ready to somehow, integrate the past.
    Mostly it doesn’t work like that. Japan has moved on, so have your friends and family – there is nothing there anymore except what you make again from new.
    Those that survive and thrive do so because new opportunities have opened up, and they themselves, are new.
    Know what I mean?
    Just look around you and see how far you’ve come, and try and feel actually, all the good things that you’re in, that have become hidden from you because you’re there.

    I think the best thing is to make a trip home for at least four months and just be there. You’ll know whether or not to tell your parents and whether or not to move back.

    Your story is fully, and exciting, and inspirational you know?

    I felt I had to reply!
    Onward.

  3. Manel

    In one post we had two great experiences, and both very well told, with strong feelings and written in such a way it’s possible to be close to them. It is a pleasure to read these texts since they bring mankind together, and we all feel a “déja vu” feeling.
    I want to thank this opportunity.
    I choose not even to hint, since anyone of us is different and knows better, but, once again, loved to read
    Manel

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