By Kristofer Purnell
Illustration by Ariana Maralit
In celebration of Coming Out Day, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle got to talk to two members of the LGBTQIA, JC (preferred name) and Gigi, who shared their coming out stories and how their lives have changed since then.
Out by accident
JC came out by accident. It happened back when he was in his first year of college, dating his first-ever boyfriend. “I was pretty ecstatic that [he] agreed to this long relationship of ours,” says JC.
Back then JC would talk to his boyfriend on a landline phone, and during one of their romantic conversations he heard an unusual breathing—he realized someone was listening from the other phone in his house.
“I was shaking. I was in the other room, [and] it was frightening for me going through all that,” he says. His parents were religious, and he already had an idea how the conversation would go. He expected his dad to shout at him, punch, or do all sorts of things, but to his surprise his dad was crying. “I didn’t expect him to cry like. I guess he was disappointed at me, that I couldn’t have children in the future or grandchildren,” JC says, holding back tears.
It was his mother who was angry. “Sons are closest to their mothers so they expect a lot out of us,” JC says. His mother began talking about the usual arguments—HIV diseases, being alone forever—and even used their gay older neighbor who lived alone as example.
It’s been five years since the events transpired and JC says they still haven’t accepted him, even questioning his lifestyle. “They still want kids, just like the typical Filipino parent would. They still want children because they’ll take care of us,” he says through tears. Though he wishes he made better decisions, JC is happy he is able to share such a story that changed him.
“I’m still here, I’m still alive,” he says. “Even though they don’t support my lifestyle, they support me as their child, and I’m forever grateful for that.”
Coming out twice
Gigi came out as a homosexual man to her parents when she was in her fourth year of high school. Though she already showed signs of her “sexuality,” she never found the opportunity to admit it because of how daunting and scary the thought of coming out was.
“I was afraid of what could possibly happen if I came out,” Gigi says. “I feared that my parents would be disappointed because they ‘never raised me to be this way,’ and all their expectations of me would vanish.”
She finally got the courage to come out when she was hospitalized after being diagnosed with an eating disorder. “I knew then and there that that was the perfect opportunity for me to come out, because they can’t hurt me any further as I was someone tied to a hospital bed,” she explains. When her parents asked if her eating habits was because of an aspiration to fit in and look more feminine and gay, she said yes.
To her surprise, Gigi’s parents accepted her wholeheartedly. “What I thought would be a very scary experience turned out to be something so relieving and uplifting,” she happily says. But there was a caveat: Her parents hoped that she would not crossdress, or get further enhancements to look like a woman, which is exactly what happened to her.
Gigi is a transgender woman. “Something very unique to us transwomen is that we come out twice: First as a homosexual man and then second as a full-fledged trans woman,” Gigi explains further. It was difficult for her to come to terms with her true identity, as any trans-individual would be because initially they are in denial and because transpeople experience more backlash that homosexuals. But the process of coming out, Gigi says, transpeople are further enlightened and become much braver to a point where they can finally accept themselves.
It was during a trip to Japan when Gigi came out as a transwoman to her mother. For the first time she wore a dress in public, something so girly that her parents were appalled. “Bakit ka na nagbibihis babae, akala ko gay ka lang? (Why are you dressing like a girl, I thought you were only gay),” her parents asked her. She replied saying “Yes akala ko gay lang ako, pero sa totoo feel ko babae ako (Yes I thought I was gay at first, but I really feel I’m a woman).”
Her parents were very reluctant to accept it at first, but they put in a lot of effort into understanding and empathizing with who she really was. “That to me was extremely liberating,” Gigi says, owing to the encouragement of her family to support her truth, and herself to own it. “I finally got to breathe living my truth—as a true transwoman. We all aspire to live lives in accordance to our true and original being, so it’s importance for us to celebrate because it serves as a passage towards our truth.”
Hopefully there will come a time where such a holiday will no longer be needed, where coming out won’t be such a big deal anymore, and people won’t be told that living their truth is wrong.
“We long for a day where everyone can casually tell their gender identity as if you just had a haircut,” says Gigi. “We hope that proclaiming our truth won’t be something we have to muster enough courage.”