To tell, or not to tell?
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.