When I told my family I was gay, honestly, I never thought they would behave any differently. I had expected them to accept. I had expected it to be a breeze. When they didn’t know how to accept, I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I rejected them. I wanted to move out. I stopped talking to them. I stopped treating them with respect. I thought they were quite silly and stupid as people. I was angry with them. How can they not accept something I think is so natural and essential to who I am – the very person that I am?
At that point in time, I was having my own internal struggles with myself. The very reason why I told them was because I needed support. I needed strength. I needed guidance to help me through what I was going through – why the guys I had dated left me, why I couldn’t have a relationship, how I knew I had self esteem issues but didn’t know how to deal with them and how I honestly wanted them – my family – to help me deal with it. I was in a complete loss and I needed their support and strength.
But after I told them, it never came. They couldn’t deal with it. Then I realised, after a long time – why should they? I needed them to deal with it because I wanted them to sort themselves out so that – they can help me. The primarily basis was for them to be there for me. But it isn’t about me!
Letting them know I am gay – I had a motive. But it shouldn’t have come with it. I needed to know that I needed to fully accept myself first before anyone could accept me. My journey to accepting me is mine and mine alone. And their journey to learn about their attitudes is their and their journey to coming to terms with who I am and then accepting me is theirs.
I was allowing too many things to confuse the issue. By the time I learnt how this works, I was thankfully quite comfortable with who I was and I could by then, accept myself much better. By then, I realised that I needed to let them find their own path and journey. And when I did that, they also had the comfort to do it.
Because, then, they needn’t hold on to the guilt that they couldn’t accept me. Then, because I’ve accepted and forgiven them for not being able to accept me just yet, I gave them the opportunity to breathe, to be away from my judgement, so that they could learn at their own pace.
Letting others know about who I am isn’t just about them accepting me, I realise. It’s a process of them learning more, needing my understanding, feeling the guilt of not being able to accept and trying hard to find a way to do so. When they are under all that pressure, it’s hard for them. And they cannot find their way.
It was important for me to find myself and accept myself, so that I could accept and forgive them, so that they could then find themselves and come to terms with it comfortably.
Sometimes we are worried that others won’t accept us because of our own expectations – we believe that people have the same expectations. They might or might not, but where do these expectations arise from? Do they represent us or what we should want? They don’t.
The reason why we live is to transcend these expectations. To be who we truly can be. The reason why there are expectations is to challenge us to be as true as we can be.
Challenges occur not because life wants to make it difficult for us. When we come out, it’s not because we have to gain acceptance and it’s not just us who has to learn. Our closed ones need a chance to learn and whether we like it or not, us coming out is an opportunity for them to learn, for them to understand more – about life, respect and unconditional love.
Our coming out has a stronger purpose than it being just about ourselves. We come out because we need to learn to accept ourselves. But similarly, we come out because others need to learn about themselves, about their own attitudes, why they have these attitudes and how they need to have a better understanding of themselves and their attitudes towards life, themselves and others.
We might not recognise this responsibility but we have a responsibility towards others to ensure that they have this opportunity to learn. And as much as we do not know it, we provide them with this impetus.
At the start, it’s night feel uncomfortable, but when we learn to accept this journey, we can only grow stronger and more learned from it. When we deny that opportunity for us to come out to others, we deny the opportunity not only for us to learn and grow but also the opportunity for others to become wiser.
You might say – why force this opportunity on them. It’s not about forcing, or not. It’s about choice, circumstance and chance. If the opportunity comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
I chose to tell my family and friends – it was my choice. For some people, others know by chance. There are different ways where we reach that platform or that decision to have to come out. But once we get there, the journey thereafter is the same – to learn, to grow, to underhand and to accept. Then, it’s about giving others the opportunity as we would need to give ourselves.
See – eventually it’s up to you. Sometimes life gives us an opportunity to come out or force it on us but it’s up to us whether we want to take it and run with it or whether we want to hide from it. It’s our opportunity or if we are not ready, we let it go. Another opportunity might come or it might not. But we live with that decision. Ultimately whatever decision we live with, we need to be responsible with it.
We are given an opportunity to learn and grow. Whether we take it, we have to be responsible for it. What we decide will determine whether others will have an opportunity to learn and grow from this. Even if they don’t from this, they will have other opportunities for them to do so – to learn about life.
But for us, it’s a matter of our growth and learning. If we don’t give ourselves this opportunity for ourselves to at least learn and grow, will we be able to grow? Eventually, if anything, it comes down to us – will we get to learn? Will we get to live our life or will we get to have to live the lives of others, that which they make ours?
Anything that happens happens for a reason. Anything that happens is always, first and foremost, about us. But there are always larger implications. Can we control that? We can’t. But who is to say whether what we do is right or wrong for others? It doesn’t. Who is to say we know what is right or wrong? Who is to say them knowing is infringing on their rights, when they are given the opportunity to learn from us, coming out, for example? How do we know we are not helping them, on the flip side?
Life is intertwined. The very beauty of it is that as we learn in our journey, so do others learn from us. That’s the beauty of life. We might not realise this as we might be muddled in our fears. But when we are able to see beyond, we accept the beauty of this, embrace it and learn from it and give others the change to learn as well.