Three young adults open up about the hardships of coming out

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Arthur Tam speaks to three young Hongkongers about their dramatic coming out experiences with their parents

Wesley Ng
Age: 23
“I was volunteering for Pink Season (the LGBT month-long festival) when it first started in Hong Kong, while at the same time working as a summer intern for this other charity. I took these pink bracelets to give to my colleagues at the charity to raise awareness about LGBT rights, but one of them refused it. It was the first time that I felt like I was trying to be brave, to let people know that I’m gay. So when that individual rejected me, I felt so devastated and rejected that went home, locked myself in the bathroom and started crying. Eventually my mum asked me what was going on and in a moment of vulnerability, I told her. And the first thing she said was, ‘I’ve raised you for so long and now all that time is wasted’. Then she started crying and she didn’t eat for three days. She just stayed at home, stunned.

“Slowly I came to realise what she was mostly concerned about was pride and face. She doesn’t want other people to know and has told me so. I was thinking about taking her to a counselling centre but she rejected the idea. So instead, I brought my friends over and, in a way, that helped her re-shape her perceptions about homosexuality. She had this idea that all gay men are deviants and that started to change once she started to actually meet some. My dad is more okay with it, but like my mum, he doesn’t want people to know. My mum is mostly okay with it now and has expressed her main concern is whether or not I would have kids. I told her that I have friends that have gone through surrogacy in Thailand and she told me that I should try it.”

William Chan
Age: 17
“So I came out when I was 16, about a year ago, in what can be said was… not that best of circumstances. I went to a party and I got really drunk with my friends. The next morning, my mum woke up and I told her while I was crying and drunk. It was pretty dramatic, but they were tears of relief. At first my mum didn’t say anything, slightly shocked. And when she did speak she said, ‘the reason you are gay is because your dad is an asshole and that’s why you’re being punished’.

Right now she’s still in a little bit of denial. She thinks I’m still young and that one day I’ll miraculously turn straight. I don’t feel good about it. I don’t know, I don’t care.

I’m pretty sure I’m gay, but who knows, there are stranger things in life and sexuality might not just be one or the other.

I used to be unhappy for being gay. I almost killed myself when I was 11 and I used to cut myself. I have to deal with things all by myself even though I should have someone to support me like my mum. I need reassurance. I have been unhappy for too long and I think that’s why I now suffer from depression and have to be on medication. I think I would be happier if I could actually have a real conversation with my mum.”

Jennifer Ying (not her real name)
Age: 21
“My friends knew before my parents did. In high school I was still a bit confused about my sexuality, but it wasn’t until I reached university that I met other lesbians, which eventually helped me be more comfortable with myself. I would like to identify myself as bisexual, but I don’t want to date guys because I just don’t feel the emotional connection with them. Maybe that will change.

I didn’t choose the time when I decided to tell my mum. It was when I was 18 and I had just broken up with my first girlfriend. I was so upset that my mum approached me and said, ‘did you break up with your boyfriend?’ I said ‘no’ and then she asked, ‘did you break up with your girlfriend?’ You have to understand that my mum is a civil servant and she does come across lesbians, and I also have a lesbian godmother, so homosexuality isn’t too foreign an idea in my household. But with that said, she still responded quite horribly, ‘I never knew you would turn out to be such a disappointment. It’s one thing that other people are gay, but another for my daughter to be’. That really hurt me, so I also said some pretty hurtful things back to her. It has been around four years and things have finally gotten better. My mum has stopped persuading me to get a boyfriend and she knows that I have a stable girlfriend. Her concerns have shifted actually to be more about my career. She said, ‘establish yourself first because no one will care about your sexuality after that’. Ultimately I just want my mum to be a shoulder to lean on.

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