Sep 1, 2010

[Technicolor Musings] Getting Dragged Out Of The Closet

Theorgy - A Collective Blogging Event About Coming Out


I normally save my Technicolor Musings posts for Sundays, but today marks the first theorgy blogging event. It seems theorgy is meant as an opportunity for local pink bloggers to write about a particular topic, similar to Blog Action Day and other such organized blogging events around the web.

And yes, your Geeky Guide is very much gay - and highly proudly so. And the topic for this first theorgy is all about coming out, which ironically is something I didn't quite officially do - at least not by choice. That makes it a bit more interesting and I've always been one to support the local LGBT blogging community.

So pull up a comfy seat, and put on some good mood music - this may take a while, should you be interested to hear the tale..

It was February 2003 when I was riding on cloud nine. My partner at the time and I were on a high after getting over what could have been a major deal-breaker in our budding relationship. But that was past and now I was happy as could be and I actually felt like it was about time for me to start telling people that I was close to about the truth. I wanted to be able to share my happiness with those people I valued, despite my Herculean efforts in the past to keep this side of my life secret from my classmates past and present.

I have to admit, the initial run had me somewhat disappointed - I think I had thought it would have been more of a surprise for people. After all, I felt I did a pretty good job of allowing my geek side to dominate more and for my gay side to stay in the backseat for the most part. I wore over-sized shirts jeans that were a bit too loose to be flattering. I didn't care about brand names, hair products or celebrity news. I spent more time raving about the latest computer game or gadget rather than some hot guy or whatever. In fact, I was totally mum about sex despite already being in my second year of college. I was THAT careful.

My first coming out moment went something like this:
ME: Hey, I have something to tell you.
FRIEND: Oooh, does somebody have a girlfriend?
ME: Um, no...
FRIEND: Does somebody have a boyfriend? *laughs*
ME: Well actually...yeah.
*pause*
FRIEND: Oh my god! I'm so happy for you!
Then he dragged me to come out to a few other people that we were both close to. What can I say - he's my surrogate mother in the queer world and I love him because of that. And for these first few friends, they just took the news with a smile, a knowing look and then going straight into the "well, we kind of figured" or the "why only now?"

So you'd think that I would have been better prepared for the eventual fallout later on.

Fast forward about week and it's after Valentine's Day. I had offered my boyfriend a Valentine's Day card but since he didn't have a bag, he asked me to hold onto it first. It was a rather gay card that had a lot of "I love you" and even the term "husband" involved. And so it remained in my school bag for the time being. On one Thursday after afternoon classes had been cancelled due to another rally (this was UP Diliman after all) as was practice I had used the opportunity to (1) pretend to still have classes and (2) sneak off for some quality time with the boyfriend. But as timing would have it, this was also a day when my (step)Dad decided to pick me up from school.

Fuck me.

So I had to scramble back to the campus while my Dad was already waiting in the car with my brother and had to quickly come up with some lame excuse about a group meeting extending too long amidst profuse apologies. We discussed things in the car but once we got home the matter wasn't brought up again. Coast clear, right?

Stupid assumption. Very, very stupid assumption.

Fast forward again to 02:00am and I awake to my Dad waking me up saying we had to talk. Yeah, definite uh-oh moment. Then I go to my parents' room and Mom is already home from work, sitting on the bed. I sit on the floor directly at her feet, leaning against the cabinets.

The conversation started somewhere along these lines:
MOM: You know why you're here, right?
ME: I know, I was late from school, *insert lame recap of events*
MOM: ...so who's *insert name of boyfriend*? Is he your boyfriend?
In that near-infinite amount of time between her question and my answer, I went through thousands of scenarios in my head. I had gotten through my double life as a gay man / good son by sticking to the truth as much as possible in order to keep the bigger, more destructive lies safely away. It's like how a ship with compartments can stay afloat by giving up flooded compartments to the sea. In this case, I was visualizing the Titanic getting ripped up by the iceberg. There was no saving this ship today.

And so I answered, "Yes."

Things sort of went downhill from there. Apparently they had searched my things and had found the card. There was the crying and the shouting. There was a lot of hurt and anguish to go around for all sides. Heck, even my biological father was called over in the middle of the night. My "coming out" ended with my mobile phone confiscated, the landline disconnected and the front gate chained closed along with big signs telling me not to attempt to leave. I was under house arrest for the time being and I was going to file an LOA from school despite the semester almost being over. I had gone from cloud nine to the bottom of the barrel in the span of a week.

As much as my coming out experience was rather traumatic for me, I have to admit it was quite a relief. I no longer had to think about the burden of watching my behavior, setting up elaborate alibis or even just the pain of lying to people I loved and cherished. Sure, I couldn't leave the house for a significant period of time, but those months were a great time to sit back and reflect on things, appreciate what all this meant and really consider if my understanding of my sexual identity was right or not. In those months, I wondered if I had subconsciously wanted to get caught so that I could be over with all of it. The stress. The worrying. The second-guessing of every question. The secrecy. The lies. The hurt.

When I eventually left home to strike out a life on my own, I decided that I wouldn't stay in the closet for anyone anymore. Thus I lamely came out to my high school classmates over email. I did the same for my close friends from college and the online world. And I promised myself that I would never hide my sexual orientation from anyone ever again. I carried this principle with me when I first got a job - it was part of my introduction to my training class on day one that I was out and proud and that my boyfriend was in the next class. And it has always been part of my self-declarations in terms of my various writing and blogging projects ever since.

It hasn't been easy of course. It took me a good number of years to repair my relationship with my family, which will never be the same. I still bump into those people in the corporate world who feel my homosexuality may be more of liability than an asset. And I know I put myself at risk from any number of hate crimes, stereotyping or unfair treatment as part of a minority group. But I don't regret the choices I've made that brought me to this point.

A few lessons from this whole coming out experience (at least for me):
  • Your mother will always know. She may be in denial about it, but she probably knows.
  • Never lie to your siblings - they're your strongest allies in the world and you'd be an idiot for ignoring that.
  • Your friends will support you even after you come out. If they don't, they were probably never your friends to begin with.
  • Coming out is not about bragging about or imposing your homosexuality on everyone - it's about truly being at peace with who you are and feeling confident enough in yourself to be proud about it.
Of course, the path from my house arrest to my current state of virtually-wedded bliss is probably a heck of a lot more interesting. But that's a story for another time or another blog.

7 comments:

tekiabaryrepalda said...

Hey Rocky - i seldom comment on your blogs but i do read them from time to time. And i believe it's high time i leave a comment.

You are such a brave man. And for all the gay jokes that you may have gotten from me in the past, my apologies. It takes a realization in life to make one humble about inane forgettable statements we make.

I can see from you and Tobie's blog how happy the both of you are. This and Tobie's entry are equally fine blog reads and personally significant for me.

All the best,
Teki

rOckY said...

Teki:

My thanks for your kind words - they really mean a lot to me. I have to admit that when you first reached out a few weeks ago, there were a million snarky remarks that came to mind, but I knew there was no point in digging up old petty squabbles like that.

And I see you have another blog - I can never seem to keep track of you here on the blogosphere, hehe.

I hope we get a chance to have coffee sometime, hopefully when Ahmie is in town too.

Cheers,
rOckY

Sanchus Brian said...

trying times. you survived. ;)

there's always friend who'll fan you with a shoe box cover if ever the need will arise.

rOckY said...

Brian:

Thanks.

That word seems hardly able to fully convey my appreciation and gratitude, but language is limited that way.

Sanchus Brian said...

You would never have to say anything.

Fickle Cattle said...

I love reading through the coming out stories in theorgy. Hahaha. Anyway, I like this story. I had a similar first coming out experience. :-)

http://ficklecattle.blogspot.com/

rOckY said...

@Fickle Cattle:

Thanks for the appreciation - I paid your blog a visit after Theorgy and I really like your take on things.

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