It's been six years since I came out to my mother, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
I grew up in your basic traditional Filipino family. We ate all of our meals together, went to church together. Focused on our studies and tried to be the perfect example of what Filipino children should be.
My parents are kind, loving and have tried to give me all that I ask for, but what they ask for in return is perfection. Well my father mostly. So when I started to realize that I was attracted to the same sex, it scared me half to death. I didn't know how to cope and I was terrified at the repercussions if my parents were to find out.
In high school, I came out to my friends as bisexual. I thought that if I was into both boys and girls, there would still be a sense of normalcy among my friends, because God forbid they feel uncomfortable around me. By the time I was in college I came to the realization that I was in fact a lesbian, and came out again to my friends who practically said it was no big deal and that they loved me no matter what. I just wished that their sense of acceptance rubbed off on my parents.
Now, coming out to my mother did not turn out the way I was hoping for. I did not intend to come out to her the way that I did. It all started when I was trying to ask her permission to spend a couple of days in San Francisco with some friends she knew. Of course the whole SF trip with my friends was a lie, because if I were to tell the truth, that I was spending those couple of days with a girl I met online and we were staying at a hotel so we could go to San Diego Pride together, I knew that she would turn me down on the spot.
As that day got closer, I kept bugging my mother if I could go on this so called trip. But she kept giving me the "I'll think about it" line. It got to be the day before my trip and my mother still hadn't given me an answer. She was in the backyard watering the plants, so I went outside and tried asking her again. She asked me why it was so important for me to go, and I told her that I just wanted to spend some quality time with my friends. Then out of nowhere she said, "You're not going to San Francisco are you?" I was in shock and disbelief because I just got caught, but I played it off and got angry at her, telling her that I was going to San Francisco. She then replied, "Then who's this girl you're going to see?"
I asked her what she was talking about and she told me that she was in my room cleaning and saw my phone there and noticed there was a text message. She said that she didn't touch my phone and that the message was in clear view. I knew she was lying because my phone automatically locks after 30 seconds. She would have had to unlock my phone, which is pretty simple because I didn't have a code on it. She would then have to go to my messages and browse the inbox.
We got into this huge argument about her always snooping around in my room. She kept asking me who this girl was, and I kept telling her that she was just a friend. Which she was, at the time – we were still in the dating phase, getting to know one another. Then my mother bluntly asked me if that girl was my girlfriend and I screamed NO. She sat me down and asked me if I was a "tomboy," which is Filipino slang for gay. I looked at her and said, "You already know the answer to that question. You asked me that very same question last year when I got into that car accident."
She just looked at me and started to cry. I had come out once before and I guess the trauma of that accident affected her memory and she forgot. But I believe that she was just in denial and did not want to accept the fact that her eldest daughter was a lesbian.
I sat down next to her and looked at the sky. The sun was setting. It was one of the loveliest sunsets that I'd seen in awhile, but to watch it under these circumstances made it seem like all the happiness and light that were once in my grasp would now turn into a dark pool of sorrow and despair.
As the sun disappeared into the horizon, I started to cry. I took my mother's hand and said,
"Yes Mama. I am a tomboy. I like girls, I can't help it. I wanted to tell you for a very long time because I knew that maybe there was a chance that you would accept me since one of your best friends is gay, and you work with and get along with Michael who is also gay. But there was a part of me that wasn't ready for the negative repercussion if I were to tell you. I just want to you know that I am still the same person inside and out, I just happen to love differently than you."
All I heard my mom say was, "What did I do wrong? Why are you punishing me Lord?"
She let go of my hand to wipe away her tears. She couldn't even look at me. Right then and there I just wanted to disappear along with the sun. I have never seen my mom in such a state of disbelief. I could see that this was tearing her apart. The next thing she said was,
"How am I going to tell your Papa?"
As soon as I heard that I was terrified. I knew that my dad would take the news ten times worse than my mom had, but instead of crying he would just go into a state of rage, and most likely physical abuse. I begged my mom not to tell him. I pleaded with her not to tell him. And there we both sat crying in the darkness.
I told my mom that I was sorry. That this was not the way I wanted her to find out. I just hoped that she still loved me, and I asked her if she still loved me. She said, "Of course I still love you. It's just going to take time for me to understand why you decided to be gay."
I wanted her to understand that I didn't decide to be gay. So I responded with this:
"Mama, I did not decide to be gay. Did you decide to be straight? I knew for a very long time that I was different, but because of our religious and family values, I was taught that this wasn't right. That it's not okay to have these type of feelings. I have tried so hard to be straight, to like boys. I even went as far as to date a guy to make you happy, and look how that ended up. He turned out to be a complete jerk who tried to rape me and almost succeeded. You don't think that I get jealous of my two younger sisters who are in what you would call a 'normal' relationship? I would love to be like them. To have someone court me. Come to the house and pick me up to go out to dinner and a movie. If I did that with my girlfriend, I imagine that you and Papa would not treat her the same way you treat their boyfriends. This is why I lie to you about where I'm going because I know that you won't accept it. I don't want to be treated differently because I would rather date a girl than a boy. I just want to be loved and accepted for who I am and who I love."
My mom came up to me and gave me a hug. She wiped away my tears and told me that she would try to accept me. It may not happen in the time frame that I would hope for, but she is willing to try.
We stood up and hugged each other, then went inside.