I browsed my old blog in an attempt to see if I’ve covered the Coming Out topic in the past. Turns out while I talked about various experiences at Chinese New Year, I haven’t really talked about my coming out story to my family. Probably because it’s never been a very big issue to me.
I used to think I was straight. In fact, I was once engaged to a guy. Someone I still love dearly, but was fortunate enough to realise in time that it would never have worked out between us. Now we are both married to other people and much happier.
Looking back, I only need to think about the crush I had in primary school to realise that I was probably bisexual all along. I remember falling for my camp leader when I was primary 5 and doing ridiculous things like going to school early so I could walk pass her classroom and see her. I was obsessed with her for almost an entire year before she graduated and it became my turn to be the target of primary 5 crushes. It probably didn’t help that my primary school only allowed short hair and I had the butchiest haircut ever. It was a sort of poofy “Aaron Kwok” hairstyle that my naturally curly hair couldn’t really pull off. I have some truly terrible photos of myself with that haircut. The one below is not the worst and as you can see, it’s already pretty bad.
Something changed in the December holidays of primary 6 after my PSLE. For one, I could have long hair again. I also discovered boys and sort of grew out of my butch phase naturally. I started picking out more girly clothes and discovered my feminine side. Throughout my secondary school days, there were many same-sex relationships going on, but I never did fall into one, even though there were a few girls in my school whom I found attractive. Instead, I explored the world with boys in it and this continued for the next 14 or so years.
I fell for a girl again when I was 26. Pretty late by some standards. That relationship was probably the worst in my life and it almost killed me when it crashed and burned. Yet, I have no regrets. As they say, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. When I realised I had fallen for a girl, I didn’t question it. I’ve never been someone who sees gender as a problem, probably because I’ve had so many girl crushes in my younger days. It never even occurred to me that there was a problem with it because of the number of lesbian friends I have and the fact that I’m pretty comfortable with both my feminine and masculine side.
I remember coming out to my mom over MSN because she lives in the US and that was our common mode of communication. I basically told her I had broken up with my boyfriend and was with a girl now. I can remember her initial reaction – “What? Does that mean I’m not going to have grandchildren?” That was what she was concerned about. In fact, I think she kicked up more of a fuss over my tattoo than the fact I was dating a woman. Of course over the years this has changed, especially when she realised this was not a phase. There are good days and there are bad days. I’ve had shouting matches with my mom over my choice of life partner. Some days I think she truly understands and just wants me to be happy. Other days she gets really worked up and upset over how “others” view her and how “others” think she has failed as a mother. I’ve tried to explain to her this has nothing to do with her parenting skills and everything to do with how I am someone who believes in living my life fully without regrets. I’ve also tried to figure out who “others” are. One day I would like to hunt down “others” and tell them to stop giving my mother grief. However, I know this is my mother’s own battle to fight and I don’t want to try and fight it for her.
My coming out experience to the rest of my family has been fairly easy. My extended family have either accepted it or simply choose not to raise an issue with it. They include Irene in our family activities automatically and for that I am grateful. I know they love me more than their own prejudices and that no matter what, they will always be there for me. I haven’t really found the words to explain it to my grandma, but she knows Irene lives with me and that she takes care of me and now we take care of Zoey together.
The one I really struggled with was my dad. My parents had divorced when I was really young and my dad is a traditional chinese father. I didn’t know how to broach the topic and in the end, I had to rely on my aunt to tell him I was pregnant and in a relationship with a woman too boot. I am fortunate because I didn’t have to have that hard talk with my father. He didn’t disown me or give me crap about it. Til today, we’ve had short vacations together but he has not raised the topic. The only thing he has said is “One is enough.” He feels we are doing well now with one child and that having a second one will be an unnecessary burden on our finances.
So in essence, I found the coming out to family easier than most but I think that’s because I love and trust my family to love me. No matter what.
Some people have asked me – if you are bisexual, why don’t you just marry a guy? Wouldn’t it make life much simpler?
Yes, I guess it would make life much simpler. But something I’ve realised about life is you don’t choose who you fall in love with. You can’t force yourself into a relationship. It’s all just going to fall apart eventually if you try and do that. I’ve found happiness and it just happens to be with a woman. Sure, we have obstacles along the way, but that’s what life is. A series of obstacles that we learn how to overcome. I’m not about to give up my love, my life, my happiness for some social construct and I don’t think others should be forced to either.
So if you are struggling with coming out or wondering if there is a future together with your same-sex partner, I hope my story helps a little bit. Every family is different and we all have our own battles to fight. However, I think being able to live authentically as yourself is one of the basic fundamentals for happiness in life. If you need some resources to help with coming out, I strongly recommend the Coming Out Guide by Sayoni.