PEEPING OUT OF MY CLOSET
“Anak, ano ba kayo ni * female friend*?”(“What’s the real score between you and *female friend*”). My mom once asked while we’re lining up at a bookstore check-out. I was 17. There was a smirk or smile on her face and her eyes bespoke of intrigue and maybe a hope- that her eldest daughter is not queer. And I remember answering her with a scoff and irritation. At a young age of 7, I first heard the word LESBIAN. I was playing with my older cousin, she was in highschool. In between the laughs and ruckus, she just blurted that word to me. I responded with, “What does that mean?”. She just answered with, “go figure out yourself”. So as a curious kid, I looked for it in the dictionary after we played. And then I realized, I don’t even know the spelling of that word.
Homosexuality is not a foreign thing in my family. Just a background of our family- I grew up at my lola’s (my father’s aunt)house. My lola had a female friend, a gal pal, who also lives with us. They own the house, they have business together, they have their own room, and we also refer to her as lola- sometimes there’s a slip of tongue and we often call her Lolo. A butch 2nd lola and a femme lola. But we never questioned or asked our parents exactly how we are related to Lola butch. I have two grandmas that are not my parents’ mothers and we’re a family. That’s it.
It may occur to you that I don’t have to worry about being queer or coming out to my family given the situation we have. Well, you’re wrong. Because we live in the Philippines wherein people who are gay are kinda accepted only if they’re great at telling jokes . Your sense of humor can overshadow the fact that you’re gay but it doesn’t mean that we truly accept you for who you are. I digress. I was fighting the urge to assess my self. To truly ask myself the question, “Am I gay?”. I was scared. I was scared that my answer would be a YES. Eventhough I know in my heart that that’s the reason why I’m very fond of my Grade 3 adviser and would always mutter that if I ran a certain course in under 10 seconds, it’s for her. I was scared because for years I’ve been defending myself to my friends that I’m not gay, that the reason why I act boyish is that I grew up with my brother for 8 years and that he’s my only playmate growing up aside from my cousins and I may have unintentionally caught his ways, and that we’re really not 100% male or female blah blah and some other scientific bullshit. I hid my queerness behind my convincing lies that even myself started to believe in.
And then I turned to the internet, the people in it. Interacts with people who are free-minded and accepting. I even took the Kinsey Scale test ( I’m a 3). I remember reading a post in Tumblr, wherein an anon (anonymous follower) asked a gay blogger on how did they knew that they’re gay? They listed several instances and questions, and not surprisingly, my answer were mostly yes and some of it had happened or currently happening to me at that time. Also, it confuses the hell out of me because there’s this so called girl crush. You know, when a girl finds another girl attractive in a non-sexual way, they don’t want to be in a relationship with them but rather to be like them or to be friends with them. Plus the fact that I still get attracted to guys- but what if I’m just projecting myself towards the dudes I find cute? It’s hard to know my sexuality at that time because I’ve never been in any relationship and it’s rude to be in one just to test if you prefer the lukewarm water over the cold iced one. But I was certain and told myself that I’m going to figure this out, once and for all.
I made my social media more open than ever, more diverse. I followed well known and simpleton LGBTQIA+ people, those who openly supports the group. I connect with them, conversed with them on Twitter. In between of work hours and free time, I was ready to ask myself the dreading question I would always avoid. “AM I GAY?” AND THE ANSWER IS YAAAASSS!!!! I’m not straight, I’m queer and that’s what I’m going to label myself. October 22, 2015, the day I gathered up all the courage I have in me, got out of my comfort zone and told this individual I often exchange tweets with, how cool I think she is, and that I really love her writings and how well opinionated she is. And maybe in between those praises, I kinda told her that I like her. And she took it pretty well. It was a beautiful and honest rejection, she’s very warm. It got me thinking, this girl did not know me all my life,we didn’t share any core memories together, and yet, she took the whole situation as normal it can be. What more if I told my friends about this AHA moment in my life? This gold realization?
The line from We Bought A Zoo echoes in my head. “ Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” I started with one of my bestfriends who happens to be gay also and he’s out. I really don’t know why I’m so afraid of coming out or why I beat myself this hard in coming to terms with my sexuality when in fact I’m friends with people like me! Maybe I just think that queer men are more accepted in the society rather than us queer women. Maybe because there’s still a hint of patriarchy somewhere there. You have to know that this bestfriend of mine, well we had this huge fight when we were in highschool. and I even called him a homophobic slur at that time. but we are all good now, heck we are the bestest of friends among other our bestfriends and I’ve changed a lot since then. I told him that I’m not straight, and I would label myself as queer but I’m still kinda attracted to guys, so he could still share with me the dick pics he’s receiving. Though I may not totally like what he said about him knowing that I’m not straight, way before I came out to him, but If I look back at those times in highschool or everytime we hang, I would say yeah some of my ways were pretty gay. So 1 down 4 more bestfriends to go and come out to. It took me i guess 2 months before opening up to my female bestfriends cos I wasn't sure how they could take this huge juicy details about me. One of them is my bestfriend for almost 2 decades. We were classmates since preschool and separated ways a year in highschool and all throughout college. But we still communicate and I’m now a godmother to her son. Their responses were all nothing but heartwarming. I even asked for an apology because I felt that I was being fake to them for not showing my true rainbow colors. They brushed it off saying that they don’t need me to apologize for being who I am, that it’s my choice to whether come out to them or not, they just hoped that I did sooner, because they could imagine how hard it must be for me keeping it to myself, and they understand, accept me, and promised that nothing will change. At that moment, I felt that being friends with them was one of the bravest and greatest decision I have ever made.
It would take time, years before I could share this new found realization with my family. How can I come out to people I often have to call out for their remarks towards gay people? I would come out to them when I’m ready and comfortable. I don’t think I’m hurting them by staying inside the closet. As long as I’m being a good person, daughter, my sexuality won’t matter at this point. And I’m fine with it. I always see myself being carefree in other places, in places where I’m on my own, not a single shadow of my family can be seen. I always tell to myself that, I can be the true me only after I don’t live with my family. It’s selfish I know, but loving yourself is not a selfish act. For now, all I know is that I’m the proudest I can ever be. And I’m good with just peeping out of my closet.