To tell, or not to tell?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

I’M a 23-year-old male stu­dent. My dilemma be­gan years ago af­ter the death of my older brother, leav­ing me as the only male grand­child for both my fa­ther’s and mother’s side of the fam­ily.

In a Chi­nese fam­ily, there is al­ways a heavy re­spon­si­bil­ity placed on the sons of the fam­ily to carry on the fam­ily name (es­pe­cially if the grand­child is the only re­main­ing male heir of the fam­ily).

Un­for­tu­nately, I am un­able to carry out that duty, as I am gay.

I want to clar­ify that I’m per­fectly com­fort­able with be­ing gay and have ac­cepted my­self for who I am. I have ab­so­lutely no ro­man­tic or sex­ual at­trac­tion to­wards girls, and have a very high if not ex­treme, at­trac­tion to­wards guys which also pretty much crushes any chance of me leading a het­ero­sex­ual life.

How­ever, my dilemma is how to tell my fam­ily. Com­ing from a re­li­gious Catholic fam­ily, be­ing gay could very well be the great­est sin to them, and it would be very dif­fi­cult for them to ac­cept my ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, es­pe­cially for my mother.

I refuse to live a life that is a lie, which might sub­ject my in­no­cent “wife and child(ren)” to un­nec­es­sary pain and suf­fer­ing, just so I can please my fam­ily and rel­a­tives. Some people may see me as a self­ish and un­fil­ial son, but liv­ing a lie would hurt more people in the end, and cause more pain and suf­fer­ing.

It’s prob­a­bly pos­si­ble not to say any­thing un­til I’m 30, be­fore rel­a­tives and fam­ily mem­bers get too sus­pi­cious about me not get­ting mar­ried. How­ever, I feel that wait­ing too long be­fore I come out of the closet might hurt them even more and crush the high hopes they have in me.

Therein lies the core of my dilemma. Should I wait be­fore com­ing out and give my fam­ily a few more years of bliss­ful ig­no­rance or should I be hon­est now so that they won’t waste their en­ergy and emo­tions plan­ning and hop­ing?

The main fear I have is that they won’t be able to ac­cept me for who I am. They could pos­si­bly dis­own me, or try var­i­ous meth­ods to “cure” my ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and re­strict my life­style.

The pos­si­bil­ity of re­jec­tion re­ally scares me, as I love my fam­ily. Please ad­vise.

Tip Of The Scales

YOUR dilemma is un­der­stand­able. It must not be easy for you to think about this sit­u­a­tion, let alone live it. But, just the fact that you are hav­ing such a dif­fi­cult time deal­ing with it is a sign of your un­selfish­ness, and shows your high re­gard to­wards your fil­ial duty.

Of course, it’s un­fair for all par­ties con­cerned for you to lead a life of lies and pre­tend to be het­ero­sex­ual. Many stud­ies have shown that this can cause deep and se­vere de­pres­sion in the per­son who is re­press­ing his/her sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Also, stud­ies have also shown that so-called “cures” for gay people do not work. This was in the news re­cently when one of the early pro­po­nents of “repar­a­tive ther­apy” pub­licly apol­o­gised for his views and sub­ject­ing people to this mis­named cure.

Com­ing out is an im­por­tant part of a non­hetero­sex­ual per­son’s life. It is not just about let­ting oth­ers know about their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, but also a step to­wards leading a ful­fill­ing life.

It will al­low the per­son to be true to him/her­self and not have to lie. It en­ables the build­ing of trust in re­la­tion­ships and ul­ti­mately leads to the well-be­ing of all par­ties con­cerned.

It is of­ten said, though, that com­ing out is a process rather than an end goal. It is not some­thing you can put a time frame on, or hope to do over one an­nounce­ment. The more mean­ing­ful a re­la­tion­ship to you, the big­ger the in­vest­ment you have to make in the process.

Think about it: You prob­a­bly took some time and went through your own process of ac­cept­ing yourself and your sex­u­al­ity. Is it not then un­fair to ex­pect oth­ers – par­ents and fam­ily – to ac­cept it straight away?

Time is your best in­vest­ment. And, since you have it on your side, you should make the best of it. Start hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with fam­ily mem­bers about sex­u­al­ity.

You do not have to be the cen­tre of it. Raise is­sues that are cur­rently in the news, or talk about “people you know” who have come out as gay. If your par­ents are re­li­gious, you can read up on the grow­ing re­li­gious per­spec­tive on ac­cept­ing non-het­ero­sex­ual sex­ual ori­enta- tions. The the­o­log­i­cal and aca­demic worlds are rife with the lat­est view­points and many of the opin­ions are far from what they used to be.

It is not just about ed­u­cat­ing your loved ones, but also about talk­ing about sex­u­al­ity. In many fam­i­lies, these things are just not dis­cussed, as they are re­garded as taboo. Just bear in mind, though, that you will be deal­ing with long­stand­ing views and you will need time to get your views through.

It is im­por­tant that you do not be­come de­fen­sive and take things per­son­ally. They are ex­press­ing their views on a topic, and it is not a re­flec­tion of what they think of you.

Don’t con­strain yourself with a time­line. Ques­tions about why you are not get­ting mar­ried, or if you have found a girl yet,are to be ex­pected. Do not feel pres­sured by it. Just re­mem­ber that there is no end to these ques­tions.

When there is a mar­riage, the next ques­tion will be when the baby is born. When the baby comes, people will ask when is the next one. You just have to re­sign yourself to the fact that you can­not make ev­ery­one happy.

So, you might as well spend all the en­ergy you need to make yourself happy.

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