Sep 15, 2009

OSS # 171: Out

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Thoughts on Coming Out

I always have wanted to come out in the open and go on living with less fear. I want to say I'm happy; deal with it. I've have been planning for a while for the right moment to tell my family. I've been doing a lot of things to please my family, painting to them a good image of myself so that when the "bad" news came, I have the good deeds to back me up. My birthday would have been an ideal day since I expect them to be extra nicer to me on my day.

But it's not really as easy when you grow up in a country where the gay image is haunted by the likes of Pacifica Falaypay, Maximo Oliveros and Bebeng Gandanghari. If you're not anything like them, you have decades (centuries even) of misconceptions to correct.

Another difficulty still is using the vernacular language. Saying "I'm gay" is a lot easier that saying "bading ako." Aside from the former has less syllables that can slide off the tongue with ease, the word "bading" has a lot of negative connotations in the Filipino society that are hard to swallow. There is no exact Filipino word for "gay". "Bading" and "bakla" are the closest. I went with "bading" since since the stressed 'k' is a whole lot more difficult to say.

For those who haven't tried coming out using Filipino words may find it funny why I fuzz with such details. Saying "I have something to tell you, Don't be mad, okay," is easy. You can take your precious time with a lengthy introductory note holding a listener in suspense, but when one is about to say "bading ako", a lump forms in the neck and saying it feels like pulling out a scrubbing pad out of one's mouth. And when I finally muster enough courage to say it, my mother went deaf and asked me to say it again! Tears are welling in my eyes as I force the words out the second time. I did succeed in controlling the tears. My mother didn't.

It has been a year since I 1st out myself to a friend. I already forgot how it went. I should have taken down notes. I should have prepared for the questions that were to flood me after my statement--questions like who plays the female role? Are you sure with your decision? Don't you want a family? Why? Why? Why?

Long before the relieving statements like "I can't do anything but support you," I should have been prepared to react with statements like I pray that you have a change of heart, your good looks (note that mothers are not the most objective people) will go to waste, I'm not ready to meet your boyfriend, maybe he's just using you and then leave you. I even sensed that she partly blamed herself for me choosing a guy for a partner when I told her that these days, heterosexual relationships are not as secure, pointing my separated parents as the example. I told her that their broken marriage had nothing to do with my decision, to ease her mind a bit, but it was a statement I couldn't really be sure with.

I couldn't imagine what pictures were being formed inside my mothers head at that time. I'm afraid that she would see me as a freak show. Words were not enough to paint a more accurate picture. Good thing I had photos in my mobile and showed her how normal we look. I even showed her photos from a charity work of some gay PEx members. She couldn't believe at first that those guys were gay, like me. I tried to tell her that she should trust my decision and that I haven't made a major mess out of my life. I also asked her not to pray for my mind to change. Instead, I asked her to pray that I and my partner will have a lifetime of a healthy relationship. I told her that nothing was going to change. I have been like this for so many years. The only thing new was that now she knew. That, I think, finally calmed her down.

She went home to Laguna and while I to QC. Later that night, she told my brother about my revelation. My brother texted me his message of support. It was one draining but satisfying birthday. One major fear finally conquered. A few more to go but I think I take a much needed rest for a while--like months.

Next stop: my father. But like the cliche goes, slowly but surely.


pie said...

haay. hugs, niel. i formed dreaming attic with the primary intent of putting down to words, describing what went on between me and my sis the day i let out the big reveal.

sadly, i haven't found the right words yet.

goodluck with your dad..

Niel Camhalla said...

Thanks. Thanks.

So that's one goal of your blog. I'll look forward to you fulfilling your goal.

the geek said...

this is a rare post, niel, for you to share a certain part of your life.

am just happy that i am blessed with loving and understanding family. needless to say, i never heard anything bad about me being gay.

but it doesnt stop my mother from asking when will i marry. she wants an apo from me.ugghh..

MkSurf8 said...

good luck! =)

citybuoy said...

i agree with the geek. this is really a rare post. congrats on your mom and bro! it takes a lot of courage to do that. :D

Niel Camhalla said...

@the geek, a rare occassion deserves a rare post. :)

@citybuoy and @MkSurf8, thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

i admire your courage. i wish you and your mom peace of mind.

D7ana said...

Happy birthday!

You have told your mother and you see that she still loves you. Your brother offers support ... those are presents in themselves. I am glad to hear that the family members you told support you.

May your courage and the support of your loved ones keep you well always. Sincerely,


Niel Camhalla said...

Thanks max.

And yes I agree Dana. The best presents ever! :) Thank you.

Looking For The Source said...

congrats. i think she already felt you were one. she just needed to hear it from you.

buti ka pa.

ako i have a long way to go. lightyears away pa.

Anonymous said...

you are very lucky niel. in situations like "coming out," timing is essential. more importantly, the open-mindedness of the people you love is crucial.

I grew up with my mom scorning the gay lifestyle. she was very vocal about it all these years, because I know that she knows that I'm gay since I was a kid. and she's doing the best she can to prevent me from finally "becoming" one.

I admire you for your courage. hope I finally get the chance to admit it to my family and prove to them that being gay is as normal as being ugly or fat.

Niel Camhalla said...

My mom was also like that.

Maybe it helps that I have become some sort of head of our family since my father left us for another woman. I earn enough respect from making sound decisions. Ensuring them that there is nothing to worry about really helps.

My mom was really worried since a lot of gay guys can easily be tricked, exchanging money for "love". She don't want that to happen to me. She just loves me and is protecting me from the world's cruelties against the LGBT folks.

This over-protectiveness turns out to be as cruel as the ones they are protecting us from. Or we could look at it in another way. Maybe she was just toughening me up, so we can handle the world's cruelty when we are left on our own.

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