I came out to my parents about four months ago, on skype, from my apartment in Japan.
My first coming out experience was in my sophomore year of high school. My best friend at the time, whom I had known since second grade, told me that he liked guys. He said that he was bi. I told him that it was fine and that I had no problem with it. A few days later, I revealed that I “sometimes liked guys too”. Over the next few months, I came out to a few of my close friends, but that was as far as I went.
I kept a low profile during high school, living with one foot in the closet. I openly crushed on girls and even had girlfriends. I already had had crushes on other boys since middle school, but despite that desire, I actually still identified as straight, because I had a lot of crushes on girls too. My best friend and I even competed over girls over the time of our friendship! (He later on identified as strictly gay). If we ever cross paths again, I would love to reminisce and laugh about those times.
I continued on like that through college, only revealing my sexuality on a need-to-know basis. I still identified as straight, because I could never image myself actually dating a guy. I also think that going to college in my hometown also hampered the speed of my self acceptance, because being around the same people from high school pressured me to keep the same image that I has built then. There was room for growth, as I met so many new people at college, but because all but one of my core circle of friends decided to stay in town, I remained unchanged for quite a while.
Sometime during my third year however, I realized that the feeling of “wanting to be with” a woman was less “I want to date her” and more ‘Wow, she is such a cool person, I want to be her friend’. I think that in the past, I couldn’t distinguish the differences between the way I liked guys and the way I liked women. I am able to distinguish between types of attraction now, but at the time, I still had hope that I could somehow completely fall in romantic love with a woman.
Despite that, I identified as straight, and to the people who directly asked me what I identified as, I would give the argument ‘Well I’m straight because I would never date a guy’. I longed for ambiguity, and I did maintain some level of it. However towards the end of college, I began to learn more about myself, and came to accept myself as I am.
When I came to Japan, I was determined to live my life freely, within reason, as in modern Japanese culture, homosexuality is rather taboo. (For more details, read my article “Expat And Gay in Japan: An Introduction”)
I’m pretty open around other expats here, but remain closeted among my Japanese friends and coworkers. With my expat friends, if the topic of dating ever came up I would mention my orientation, but otherwise, I’m generally very private about my life anyway, so I don’t wear it on my sleeve. I’ve met a lot of wonderful and open-minded people, and I don’t think anyone even batted an eyelash when I told them.
I started going on dates with guys here and there, and after a while, I met Taku, and everything was great.
However, dating Taku reminded me of something that I had promised to myself many, many years ago: I maintained that as long as I didn’t actually date a guy, there would be no need to come out to my parents. Once Taku came along, I realized that I had to keep the promise I made to myself. He and I had already been dating for a few months, and my birthday was coming up, which instead of being a joyous occasion just felt like I was ticking off another year of lies. I knew it was time to bridge the gap between my two lives.
On a clear, pleasant Saturday morning a few days after my birthday, I called my parents on skype and told them what I had to say.
In short, it didn’t go as well as I imagined. I could tell that we weren’t going to get anywhere, so I just told them that they could talk to me when they were ready.
I think that in my time away from home, I sort of romanticized my relationship with my family. Looking back, I feel like I made a miscalculation, but I don’t regret telling them as I did. A big weight was lifted off my shoulders, even if it created a different burden that I’m still dealing with.
Though I’ve continued talking to my mother (granted only about about everyday stuff), I haven’t spoken to my father at all. And so yesterday, I devised “Coming Out 2.0”.
I wrote a letter to my parents, outlining some of the things that I wish that I could have gone into more detail about, had we actually spoken decently that night, or anytime since my coming out. I mailed it today, and hopefully, that will help to kick start a conversation. I have my fingers crossed.
I look forward to the day when my parents contact me seeking a true conversation. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying my time with Taku, the second semester at the school I work at is progressing smoothly, and the autumn weather has been nothing short of splendid.