Culture | When I knew what to say

Stories from queer students about coming out at different ages

I neither chose to come out, nor was I publicly incriminated for my then-deviant sexuality – my mother dragged me out kicking and screaming.

You have to understand my mother in order to understand how this happened. Growing up Chinese, we value integrity and honesty to yourself and to your family. Hiding your identity is seen as both unnecessary and as a blight on the trust that you should have with your kin. My mother was also a nineties club kid, trudging through the slush of downtown Toronto in five-inch stilettos to go to the hottest party she could find. She was besties with gay men before being besties with gay men was a thing.

As a child, it was pretty clear my interests didn’t quite align with the majority of my male peers, unless you count learning the choreography to “I’m A Slave For U” the second it came out as typical little boy behaviour. She was simply waiting for my inevitable sexual awakening.

I was 13, in grade eight. A few months after breaking up with my first girlfriend (over MSN chat, of all things), my mother confronted me about my sexuality. I don’t remember what inspired it, but soon I was in tears screaming, “I’m bi – dammit!” I was so exasperated by her nagging that I simply admitted to liking guys, and thought that she didn’t know better, that I’d eventually prove her wrong. Within a couple of months, I had come out to all of my friends, developed my first crush on this gorgeous Argentinian soccer player with great cheekbones (the only logical reason to watch the World Cup, of course), and had told my cousins, who I regard as siblings.

All because my mother had the guts to call me out on my shit. Thanks Mom.


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