February 03, 2011

Kevin

Kevin, age 5
San Francisco, California (1983)

I have so many childhood pictures that, without a doubt, foreshadowed my future life as a gay man. In this picture, you can see that I was a happy child, who perhaps already had an affinity for phallic symbols. In other pictures in my collection, you'd find that I often pretended that I was a high-end fashion model, with one hand placed perfectly on my hip.

As I look at these past photos, I can't help but wonder how my parents didn't know I was gay.

I always played with my girl cousins and with their Barbie dolls. I sang, danced, and acted in our community musical theater.

And I got excited when the boys from "The Dukes of Hazzard" or Uncle Jesse from "Full House" took their shirts off.

Growing up as a Filipino American, with two immigrant parents and a large Catholic family, I quickly learned that these behaviors were unacceptable.

And I was often teased by my older brothers and male cousins.

I'd also see the looks of disappointment and disapproval in my parents' faces, when they saw me with a doll in my hand, or sketching my dream wedding dress.

To add even more pressure, I was already being teased as an ethnic minority;
for the foods that I brought to school, for the funny ways I pronounced things,
or sometimes blatantly for the color of my skin or the shape of my eyes.

Somehow at a young age, I realized that I couldn't hide my race, but I could try to hide my sexual orientation. So for the next 10-15 years, I had to pretend to be something I wasn't, while repressing layers of guilt, shame, hurt, and sadness.

When I was in my early 20's, I made the best decision of my life, and I slowly began to come out of the closet to my friends, my family, and eventually my parents. While some people were surprised and distant at first, most of my loved ones were able to show me that they still loved me.

But more importantly: for the first time in my life, I learned to love myself.

To all of the gay kids out there who are struggling with their identities, know that you're not the only one. We may not know exactly what you're going through in school right now, so we can't guarantee that "it will get better" right away.

But, I do hope seeing role models who got through it all at least gives you some hope that life is worth living. And, that you are amazing just the way you are.

Kevin's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Ralph Macchio
My crushes were pretty diverse. I first loved Michael Jackson & Prince, then the list includes Kirk Cameron, Zack Morris ('Saved By The Bell'), & Rufio in 'Hook'
_______________________________________________
The Karate Kid, Part II [Blu-ray] Saved by the Bell - Seasons 3 & 4 Hook Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults

5 comments:

Snow Black said...

I am not gay but I am so glad a blog like this is around. I have a friend whose parents would not be too thrilled about him being gay and I rememeber how a vaction of ours together was dampened by the prospect of a call from his parents because his super religious sister called him, suspecting him to be gay. In time, he will be able to come out about it and he knows he has loving friends around him, all over the world, to support him.

Keep it up guys with this site.

katieporsche said...

I..LOVE..YOU!!! I'm so proud that you finally just told everyone! You made me get all misty eyed!! I'm a strait woman, but am so big on advocacy for people just being who they are inside that skin! You are such an inspiration to kids that are SO afraid, bullied, etc.. You are an angel. I'm really sorry people were mean, that is not fair to you. Now! Look at you! So many obstacles overcome by you. You're a peach, and I'm so glad I read your story...

robin said...

I am not gay. I have straight hair and it is snow white cause I am getting older. I didn't choose tohave straight hair, I would have perfered wavy hair that cascaded down my back. I am tall and I didn't choose that either. All the boys were taller than me. (not acceptable) I also had LOTS of freckles. Not my choice either. You can't choose what you are like but you have to accept that this is the way you were born and this is the way you will spend this life. LOVE WHO YOU ARE and if others don't like it then that truely is THEIR problem. Thanks for listening!!! DON'T EVER GIVE UP!

Raven said...

It's so sad that you had to hide who you really were for 10-15 years. I'm glad you finally learned to love yourself.

Bottled Tite said...

You rock! I wish I had your braveness!