This post was written in my first home page sometime in year 2000, I’ve kept it as original without any changes.
Coming out can be a significant event for many people with homosexual preferences. For some, it’s unintended and the whole world shatters in their face, leaving them worse off then before. Yet for many others it’s a choice to do so and the results are somewhat successful. Of course, there are others who never “came out”.
To me coming out means getting ready to accept oneself as a gay person and it’s when one would like to share that knowledge with the “normal” community… not all at once though. Coming out is also a continuous process of self-discovery. Most importantly, coming out is an individual experience, it should not be forced onto people who are not (or never) ready. Everyone has their own timings for coming out. The only way I can see of encouraging people to come out is really to help them dispel their fears, doubts and uncertainty of the issue.
Anyhow, back to the topic at hand…
Before coming out
I came out at the age of 26, a bit late in my years. Somehow, I don’t think it’s regretable that I came out so late. I guess it was a good time, as I had somewhat matured much more through the years working and in the army. Had I came out earlier in life, I might not have had the maturity to develop my being.
I guess I knew that I was gay since quite young in life. Being in a straight-laced community, where there had never been support for gay people, I grew up thinking that I was probably the only person in Singapore who was gay. I used to read books from the library on gay related issues (reading them in one secluded corner). Most of my initial education were from those books.
I tried dating girls, but was a natural failure…
During the secondary school days and diploma years, I was constantly infatuated with guys and girls (really). That frustration of being alone and trying to get a grip of the world that didn’t make sense just tore me apart and sometimes, I just would cry silently on my bed. However, unbeknownst to me, two of my close secondary school friends were gay too! And so where some of the female school mates.
My first mutual experience was with a fellow NCO (Corporal) in the army. Although it was frequent and continued after the army, I did not identify that as a gay thing as the other guy did not think that he was gay… so if you are doing it with a non-gay person, you are not gay, you see.
Now, I happened to be staying a stone’s throw from Raffles City AKA Sogo, during and after my army years, and I loved to frequent the bookshop there. I had no exposure to gay culture, so I neither knew nor noticed the cruising that went on there and remember, there was no Internet then. I was “cruised” by an older guy, to my surprise (because I thought Singapore was squeekie clean) and delight. However, after two months with him, I felt weird and uneasy with myself and the relationship that I had. I guess I wasn’t ready to be gay then. I “broke off” and lost contact with him.
After that, I did not think about that issue. I was very much afraid of being known as gay and wasn’t ready to lead a “gay” life… the fear that people would stereotype me and look down upon me, especially in the army and especially since my inferiority complex is quite high. Coupled with the fact that I did not have any gay frens and knew nothing about gay lifestyles and culture.
My decision to come out came about after what I call two years of soul searching… of finding out what you want to be and how you want to get there. I wasn’t consciously thinking about being gay during that two years, it’s just that the search for my own being led naturally to that conclusion.
I was 26, it was near my 2nd year exam for my part time degree. There was an urging sensation… an uneasiness and awakening of the gay self and the loneliness. It was like a wild geese sensing that it’s time to fly south as winter comes. I started to notice the goings-on in SOGO and studied what people did there and the body language. I decided that after the exams, I would be out there cruising also (mind you, I didn’t know about the word “cruising” yet).
At the same time, I had an opportunity to know that one of my diploma classmates, a close friend, was gay. (You see, he sort of outed himself to my other classmates and I came to know about it). I asked him out, and came out to him. I was very nervous when I came out to him. I was stammering and just could not get the words out properly. Finally, I said, “I am like you”. It was a big relief after that.
I was still very restrained and conscious of people knowing then. I guess the gay self-confidence was not built up yet. For example, I was afraid to be associated with effeminate and loud friends. I came to understand later, that it was because I had no confidence in my own identity, hence was easily influenced by what people might have thought about me!
Now, I am much more confident about myself (probably too confident sometimes). I like to be with these so-called “loud sisters”. That laisez-faire attitude had be entertaining, fun and relaxing. Much more fun then going out with straight friends. In fact, since I came out, I had been spending most of my time with gay friends.
What helped me on the road most were my religion(s), Buddhist and Taoist teachings. These teachings helped me see the world as it is, provided me with wisdom and strength to face the toughest challenges and at the same time, convinced me that I have to help others as they come along.
Throughout these years, I came out to many of my close friends and, even, a close male colleague, they were not surprised and took it naturally. Which makes me think whether the “normal” people is as bad and inflexible as we presume.
Coming out to my sister
I came out to my sister unwillingly two years later, after I brought a guy back home for two days and my sister was questioned me about that. I just told her there and then, that he is my “boyfriend”.
One day later, she came to my room and asked me whether I needed to see a doctor. I was surprised because I was not having flu nor appeared to be sick. Then I realised that she was talking about a psychiatrist! I said, “No I don’t think so, I don’t need help,” and the matter has rested there till now. We have not talked about it after that and are still close as usual, although, I know she still hopes that I will turn out normal.
Coming out in the army
I came out to my reservist army mates two years later. What I really wanted was to see their reaction, so I brought a book “Sex between men” to read during my spare time in the bunk. We came back from dinner and everyone (my fellow Specialists and Platoon Commander) was in the bunk. I proceeded to continue with the book where I left off.
Then one of them asked why I was reading the book, was it because I am interested in it (that is, sex between men) or just studying it. I told him, “Remember, the guy I was with during dinner? That is my boyfriend.” The WHOLE bunk was silent for 5 minutes, as they continued on their activity. After the silence broke, everybody carried on chatting their usual conversation.
I also told my Company 2IC in a private “outing” conversation, and I gave him permission to let my OC (Officer Commanding) know about it. Soon after, most of the fellow Specialists knew (through the grapevine) about it and so did my men.
What surprised me was that the whole event was uneventful. No oohs and ahhhs and eeekkks. Everybody treated me as they normally would. We still bathe together, chit chat and my men still treat me very well in the field.
What surprised me was my OC asking me whether I would like to take over as a Platoon Sergeant, which I politely rejected (too much responsiblity!!). I was thinking, “Doesn’t he know I am gay? Why does he need a gay sergeant?”. I later confirmed that he did know that I am gay. Either they desperately need a Platoon Sergeant or they really think that I am good for the job.
My outing stories have, so far, been smooth, no major outburst. It could be because I chose the correct people to come out to. It could also be because I had a strongly independent personality and those I came out to knew I did what was best for me. Nevetheless, I was glad I came out and am still coming out.
Nothing is worse then living in fear, and leading a life which is not yours nor of your liking.