Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life-long Struggle to Come Out by takeshi

By takeshi

In the blueprint of my LIFE, there’s a certain point in time where I’d just have to be ready to come out and be proud of who I really am.

I have been living a LIFE that is not entirely me. I am living a LIFE that is scared of what others might think and say about me. I’m living a LIFE that is hugely lurking in the shadows of pretense. It’s a LIFE in the arms of fear.

Every single day, every single time. Questions dangled in my mind of whether or not it’s a phase, of whether or not it’s normal, whether or not it’s okay to be like this. I asked myself if this is what I wanted in LIFE. And every single moment, the questions are left unanswered.

LIFE may have been too different had I been born gay. I was born straight. I turned gay when I turned 16. The years in between had been the period of struggle of whether or not to accept that I am different.

After college, I got the courage to come out to a friend, only because he came out to me first. If he hadn’t told me that he’s gay, I wouldn’t have the guts to tell him that I am too. If we haven’t crossed paths, I’d still be confined in my own closet and the naphthalene balls would have been my only close friends.

I was reluctant. I was very much afraid of how people would react if I’d tell them that I am gay. Such fear of rejection or distaste or despise is more like a leash that could strike and cut me deeply. With such fear in mind, I carefully chose whom to tell it to.

I would have loved to be transparent through and through. But fear has gotten to me most of the times. I hid behind my beard, my manly gestures, and the masculine voice I set. I hid behind a mask. I would have been careful not to let my pinky stick out and apart from the rest of my fingers. I would have reminded myself to stop the pupils of my eyes from dilating whenever a cute guy passes me by, or gasp whenever I see a beefcake or a muscle bear roam in the mall.

I had been trying to control myself from giving out rainbow signals. I always remember not to sway my hips as I walk. I’d played football and was forced to play hoop when my dad gave me a basketball as birthday present. I tried not to cry. My dad didn’t like the thought of boys crying. He said crying is for sissies.

Early in LIFE, I became aware of people’s concept about the homosexual. My mind was filled with thoughts that gays are men in women’s clothes, wear make-up and work in beauty salons. I somehow accepted the fact that gays are always the butt of jokes, the easy target for ugly tactics and gender slurs. I know it’s stereotypical. And out of fear, I began to question myself.

My dad once said that if he found out that one of his sons is gay, he would tie him up and hang him upside down from a tree. Dad was very traditional. If you’re boy, act like a man. We both shared the same name. He thought that I would grow up exactly like him. He thought that I would continue on with the family name. I thought if I were a boy, I should like a man.

I struggled hard. Disconcerted perhaps. It was a conscious effort to act straight and ‘normal’. I did not fit in. I felt awkward when I was in a group of boys. I felt giddy when forced to talk about my crush because I was not convinced at all that I got a crush on a girl. I would have wanted to be a member of the dance club, but I held back because it would have given the clues away.

I struggled less in high school, probably because I was focused more on the phases of cell growth and apopthosis than on my physical and mental development. It could have been the perferct time to decide on gender preference but I entered into the adolescent stage and the break-outs and skin imperfections distracted me more than my man-crushes.

The struggle continued on in college, but it ended when I finally found myself in the arms of my roommate.

I hid it from anyone until I decided to come out to him. It was an overwhelming experience. It was a conscious decision. I chose to give in, to let go, to give up on the struggle. Victorious or vanquished I didn’t know. But I was certain that it put a smile on my face. In the arms of my roommate, I felt relieved. It was to be my first time to open myself to someone. I released myself from struggle. I sprung myself to him and he secured me in his embrace.

He was the first person I came out to. My first time. My first kiss. My first embrace. It was the perfect moment to share a fraction of my LIFE. He was there when I tried to convince myself that it’s okay. He took me out of my fear. He picked me up from my worries and veered me away from the puddles of my doubt. He cleared my troubled mind and in his arms, I was at peace.

We drifted away a few months after.

I found myself alone once more. The struggle resurfaced. I wore the mask again. The smell of naphthalene was pushing me back to my closet. The surriptitious aspect of my LIFE was tucked inside the box of darkness. I continued on with my LIFE of pretense. Fear had taken me back. I thought I would remain a closet case forever.

I was shocked when my friend came out to me 7 years later. I admired his courage. He stirred me to come out. I told him everything. I told him about my roommate. I told him about my struggle. He told me that it’s going to be alright.

I was prodded to take off the mask and give up the struggle. I became less wary of what may be hurled against me. I no longer felt the need to be cautious of the way I walk, the way I laugh, the way I talk. I had my hair dyed several times and I hit the gym and toned up.

The years I spent working in an absolute macho environment had somehow automatically restricted me to come out in the open. No one in the office knew anything about my other life. But with the position I held, I thought it was not necessary to come out because I wanted to keep their respect and their trust in my leadership. I knew at that time that the struggle had resurfaced. And I had fallen back into the path of pretense.

In the blueprint of my LIFE, there’s a certain time that my roommate and I would cross paths once more. We rekindled the old flame, we picked up from where we left. We were together again, in our own little orphic world. But since we got reunited, plus the maturity and the level of understanding of what this wonderful relationship was all about, I began to open up to the people I know.

I came out to my sister first. She was in Manila that time. I told her while we were strolling the length of that mall in Mandaluyong. I told her that I’ll be meeting someone later, that I will be meeting up with my boyfriend. The shock factor for her was hearing the word ‘boyfriend’ which she uttered back to me. I nodded and told her that I have a boyfriend and that I would like her to meet him.

I expected for a long silent moment to follow. I let her absorb the shock; allowed her some time to digest and understand what she had just heard. We were in a very uncomfortable situation. At that time, I didn’t ask myself if it was the right time to come out to her or if it’s the proper place and moment to tell her. I didn’t plan it. It was spontaneous.

I broke the awkward silence and stopped her in her steps. I said to her that whatever I am and whatever I chose to be, whatever happens, I would always be her brother. She hugged me and broke down in tears. The weight of my chest was unloaded and my heart felt the warmth of the revelation.

I said to myself that there must be at least someone in the family who should know me inside-out. Eventually, I would be telling my parents about me. But I could not gather the courage yet to tell them now. I fear their anger. I fear their pain. I dread the moment where I would have no other choice but to leave the house and live my life without them. I came out to my brother just last year, when I brought him along for my business trip to Iloilo. And two years ago, I opened up to my two other siblings by letting them read an article in my blog.

This blog had become my avenue and my means to let people know and understand me. I used this personal blog to help me come out to my officemates, my close friends and those that I could trust. And since that time when I was reunited with my roommate, I have already told a lot of people.

For me, coming out is still a life-long struggle. A LIFE process. A wait-and-see event. It is also a journey, like any other. It begins with a single step, a single step away and out of the closet, a departure from fear towards the terminus of acceptance and happiness.

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