By Kyleen Jan
So I kind of figured out I was gay in high school. And no, I didn’t exactly come out to my parents. It’s a complicated story.
Being Asian and gay is this weird mix. I don’t think anyone really thinks of Asians when they
think of gays. They think of white people like Ellen DeGeneres or Tyler Oakley, they don’t
blink when they see black gays or Mexican gays – but Asian gays?
It’s not that the two labels clash, but that nobody really expects them to be bundled together.
Probably due to underrepresentation in media and racism within the LGBT community (oh yeah, it exists) and shit like that. For some, religion holds them back (this spans all races, really). But personally, I feel like there is also a specific familial pressure that keeps Asians from coming out.
I was fortunate enough to never have to deal with the self-turmoil that individuals sometimes
have with their sexuality. There was no internal conflict for me – no creed to tell me I was going
to hell. Shit, if I was going to hell, I told myself it’d be lit as fuck down there. I was very lucky
to not have any identity crisis. The main thing that worried me was having my parent’s support.
During high school, every other aspect of my life was the stereotypical Asian parent’s dream.
That yung 4.7 GPA with extracurriculars, AP credit, Honda CRV driving ass was me. Don’t get
me wrong, I played sports, had social skills, lit fires with my AUX cord, and even went to Friday
night football games. But no drugs, no alcohol, and I was accepted into a direct BS-MD program
at UIC – my parents had nothing to complain about, except maybe for the fact that I was very
I was afraid that that fact would erase everything else. All of my other achievements would
mean nothing. I wouldn’t be their daughter. It pushed me to do better in school and sports,
which obviously wasn’t a bad thing, but I felt like I was trying to compensate for the fact that I
wasn’t straight. Of the Asian parent’s agenda for their child’s life path, being gay is probably
not on the list.
My parents never talked about the subject, either. Probably because boys kept taking me to
dances, maybe because I didn’t dress like a boy, and definitely because homosexuality or
queerness is just one of those taboo topics in Asian cultures. And my parents are from Taiwan –
one of the most liberal countries in Asia. They’re also not idiots – they read American
newspapers, lived in the city, and have black friends! Black friends!!!
But basically, I held myself back from coming out to my parents because it wasn’t a topic that
was talked about much within our culture, because I didn’t want to be rejected and perhaps have all my achievements valued to nothing, and because I wanted to maintain the stable, neutral relationship my parents and I had. I knew they were very proud of me. I didn’t want to disturb that with the possibility of something going very very wrong.
Also… I needed someone to pay for my college education. I wasn’t going to lower my chances before I headed off to college.
I eventually headed off to college. Killed my freshman year with that 4.0 GPA. Still nothing for
my parents to complain about. And then I met a girl who changed my life, whose friends and
(very very Christian) family adored me, and for nine months I felt really free, like I didn’t need
to hide anything. I had someone who loved me deeply and I poured myself into her. Everything
I guess it just wasn’t meant to be, though.
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