Christian, in his own words “Many people feel attracted to people of the same sex and wonder whether this means that they are gay. For some, these feelings can be very intense and alienating, while others are more comfortable with these feelings earlier on. Some people may ask themselves, “am I gay?”
I remember when I was younger, I used to ask myself the same question too, “Am I gay?” and it took me quite a journey before coming to self-realization.
Coming from a traditional conservative family, I was taught how to always fit into the social norm and uphold social values, while simultaneously respecting family’s face. When I was in secondary school, I “fell” for a girl. I tried to date her, chasing after her, as that is what all other straight men would do; well, at least that is what I thought they would do. But after a while, I started becoming aware of the fact that I felt more attracted to guys, especially the tall ones. Laughing out loud right? It is such a typical starting-point for your entrance into the gay world, but actually it was! As time went by, I grew older and being more conscious about my true self. I started dating guys, being in relationships, and feeling love. It was all going smoothly until the day my mum, by accident, found out the truth about my sexual orientation. Yes, I mean here, she found out that I AM GAY. As all typical asian moms do, she cried, yelled at me, screamed out loud. She even told me, “You are sick, you need to go to see the doctor and get treatments to heal it.” You don’t know how I felt at that time; I was already heartbroken when I heard people say that, but now it was from my own mother. I cried and soon fell into a spell of depression. After that incident, I didn’t talk to my mum for about a month, even though we lived under the same roof.
I thought it was the end for me; however, God didn’t leave me. I realized he had granted me with the greatest, most wonderful mum in the entire world. One day, when I arrived home from school, I stepped into my room and found on my bed a hand-written letter from my dearest mom. In the letter, she said that she didn’t hate me and would never abandon me simply because I AM GAY. She was just shocked at first and hoped that I could understand. She told me that she loved no matter what happened and would always be there to support me through all my ups and downs. “Be happy and take good care of yourself” is the bottom line of all her words. I shed a river of tears as I read it; I felt so lucky, overjoyed, I didn’t know what to say at that moment. I cried, running down the stairs and hugging my mom tight, saying, “Mom, you don’t know how much I love you, how lucky I am to have such a wonderful gift from God, you, my dearest mother.” And since then, all of my family members have found out the truth, and they have been being supportive of it. I do feel very blessed to have such loving family and friends around me, supporting me through all the hardships. Today, I proudly say out loud “I AM GAY,” and I don’t need to hide it.
Justin, in his own words: “I’ve recently come to feel empowered about being gay and being myself. Even living in a city where it is pretty much expected that people accept or at least deal with homosexuality, my experience as a gay man has been filled with ups and downs. It was a struggle for me to embrace my sexuality because I don’t associate with society’s stereotypes of “being gay”. A lot of gay men don’t reflect characters seen on television (though having Darren Criss as my boyfriend would be pretty awesome). The best realization I had was when I was able to understand that people in general (gays too) come in many different sizes, shapes and types and I didn’t have to fit into any of them; I can be my awesome self.”
Jake, in his own words: “Growing up in a small country town in South Australia, I never thought I’d be living in New York City some day. The difference in where I’ve come from to where I am today is astronomical. Not just in a physical sense, but my emotional state. I’ve never felt more myself in my entire life.
The gay community in Adelaide, my home city in Australia, is a closed knit scene with three degrees of separation. In ways it can be quite overwhelming, but for the most part it is humble and supportive. Moving to New York City has allowed me to experience an entirely different gay culture. Being fresh to America and New York, I can really appreciate the diversity. I feel as though I am constantly learning and expanding my understanding of the world.
Coming out to me was about showing that nothing changes after you take that step. I was very calculated with my coming out to my friends and family. I stretched it out over the course of three years, from 18 to 21. The last person to complete my progression was my Father.
You see, I knew my parents would never really stop loving or be upset with me, and my friends wouldn’t be my friends if I knew they wouldn’t support me. In fact I was lucky. My Mother’s response went something along the lines of “I have four boys, one of them had to be”, and we continued the night laughing and crying. My Father was much more difficult to tell because I am the apple of his eye. It’s always much harder to tell those you’re the closest to and I didn’t want to disappoint or tarnish his rose colored view of me. He cried. He cried until I spoke up saying that I am sorry. He looked at me and said, “I’m just upset it took you so long to tell me. I just know your life from here onwards is going to be more difficult than it needs to be. People should be able to be who they want to be and not be ashamed of it”. For me, telling my Father was the final tier. I was finally free.
Being gay has never really meant all that much to me. I’ve never wanted it to be my identifier, nor have I wanted “being gay” to consume who I am. Being gay to me means one thing and one thing only – I’m attracted to the same sex. Everything else is just who I am, not because I’m gay. I like to think of myself as a regular guy. I’m just chasing my dreams.”
Josh, in his own words: “When I was a little kid I had gymnast Barbie. She was awesome. So awesome that I wanted to bring her to show and tell. My mom sat me down and said, “Josh, if you take her to school, the kids WILL make fun of you” to which I responded, “I don’t care, I love her.”
She was right of course. But as I rode home on the bus in a seat by myself–while everyone else squeezed in three to a seat–I was smiling because I got to sit next to the coolest Barbie of 1997.
Being gay, for me, is telling that story at a party and having an entire room of people nod their heads and laugh in understanding.”