Gay and lesbian teen life

Friday, January 4, 2002

Gay and lesbian teen life (personal essays)

In our third and last instalment, a lesbian from Hong Kong and a gay man from Singapore share their experiences about their teenage years--a 28-year-old lesbian student from Hong Kong and a 22-year-old gay student from Singapore talk about self-discovery, school, first loves and more.

Name: Vicky Yau
Age: 28
Sexual orientation: Lesbian
Occupation: Student
City/Country of Residence: Hong Kong
City/Country where you attended school: Hong Kong/Florida, US

Being gay in school:
Being gay in school wasn't that hard for me. I first realized I was different when I was in Primary 4, when all I could think of doing during recess was to get the attention of the girls that were the most feminine and cute. I told them jokes, and I helped them get their lunchboxes from the canteen. They thought I was a nice girl and well, I had been one of the popular ones in school all my life. I got along with my male classmates just fine but it wasn't particularly enjoyable or exciting or, even now, special. I was considered as a tomboy then, though no one ever called me any funny names. I was lucky to be in a school where no one believed anyone could be a homosexual. Even teachers thought that all the tomboys or "sissies" were going through a phase. Perhaps it was lucky for us gay teenagers that we were safe from harassment; perhaps it was pathetic for the society to ignore such an issue and gay teenagers had to go through the pain of finding out the truth about themselves alone.

Coming out to yourself:
To be honest, I had thought it was a phase too. It wasn't until I was in Form 3 (about 15 years old) did I realize that my feeling towards this one girl was "something else." I had heard of "homosexuality," it was a term to be whispered but not to be said out loud. I knew the chance of finding someone like me was zilch. However, I had no problem accepting that fact that I was a "homo". I was just very depressed that I was one. I remember I was lying in bed one night, bracing myself against the inevitable future of being alone for the rest of my life.

Coming out to friends:
The first person I ever came out to was the girl whom I had a crush on since Form 2. I told her in a long letter after we both went to college in the US, though at different schools. She replied my letter by saying that she wasn't a lesbian and that we were never such good friends to begin with, and we should keep it that way. That hurt. The second semester during my freshmen year I joined the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Student Union (LGBSU) on campus and since then, most of my friends during my college life were gay (both men and women).
I only told one of my good friends from high school about my sexuality when I came back to Hong Kong 4 years ago. She was very supportive and nice about it. I don't really have a problem with coming out to my friends since I haven't kept in touch with my high school friends during the years I was away and now most of my friends are gay like me anyway.

Coming out to family:
My mom was the Head Nurse in the hospital before she retired. When I was 16 and was so infatuated with this girl I told you about earlier that I couldn't even study at all, I decided to tell my mom. I thought my mom would be disappointed for a few days, the way she would when I got a Fail in my report card, and afterwards, she would love me just the same. I even thought that she would give me some medication from the hospital this time to "cure" me. Well, surprise, surprise. She was cooking then - chopping something like ribs in the kitchen.
Upon hearing my "confession", she chased me (with the knife still in her hand) from the kitchen to my bedroom, calling me names like "devil's child" and "Satan girl" and "man-girl" (a derogatory term used to describe a butch). I dared not talk to her for the next few weeks while she pretended nothing had ever happened. I knew she had told my dad about it too.
Nothing about "girls" was ever mentioned until after I came back from the States. I was 24 then. She confronted me about it this time. All I said to her was "love doesn't hurt, only hate does". She cried, she moaned, she threatened me with her words, but I wasn't afraid of that anymore. I was big enough to break down the door even if she had to lock me up. I believe she is beginning to accept the fact now. Though this issue has been shut up between us again, she has been urging me to get a life insurance.

"It's for your own good, since you're never gonna get married, and if something happens to you and I am not here, at least your best friend could be benefited." I don't want to pursue the matter with her right then and there, despite it seeming hopeful and encouraging. I will not force my parents to accept my sexuality, but I could tell during these years how much they love me. To put myself in their shoes, their daughter is doing something against their believes and against our so-called culture and tradition, yet I am their daughter and they still choose to "forgive" me for whatever disappointment I force on them.

Since the teenage coming-out episode with my mom, I was never in good terms with my parents. People always say we should love our parents yet I never knew how; never knew why. I never told them I love them because I didn't think I could. It was like true love, only time could really tell. And I can say I love my parents now, my mom, especially, for it is her who shows me what unconditional and unrequited love (all what I’ve been searching for in relationship after relationship) is, by making me feel loved.

First crushes/love/relationships and sex:
My first crush didn't land me on a relationship, not even a kiss. My first kiss was with a gay man who is still my best friend. My first sexual encounter wasn't based on love. I had my first sex experience when I was 17, at college. Her name was Justine and we were watching a baseball match together, held by the LGBSU. She asked if she could go home with me and I said she could. That was it. I didn't enjoy it, and frankly, I didn't even find her a bit attractive. I agreed simply because I was excited by the idea of

Looking back, she was rather good in bed but I was too nervous to appreciate it. I faked an orgasm, hoping that I could wash my hands off (literally) as soon as possible. My first girlfriend was a Filipino American whom I met at a Halloween party at 18. She was 26 at the time. It made me felt like I'd suddenly become a real adult - with a girlfriend, a lot of sex and a relationship. That's what most everybody in both Eastern and Western worlds is talking about, isn't it?

The relationship ended after a few months when she had to move back to Ohio. That was devastating but it didn't take me too long to get over her. I was young, and the pain of losing is so insignificant then. As I grow up, I learn that it is becoming harder and harder to get over someone.
As each relationship is getting longer, hope and the promise of "together" become what I cling on to. The pain becomes real, and each loss and disappointment becomes a disaster. (I remember I was lying in bed one night at age 15, bracing myself against the inevitable future of being alone for the rest of my life – I wonder where that strength has gone…)

Name: Dumb_joe
Age: 22
Sexual orientation: Gay, gay and Gay!
Occupation: Student
City/Country of Residence: Singapore
City/Country where you attended school: London, Singapore

Being gay in school:
I lived in London when I was young and then moved to Singapore way before the awkward stage puberty set in so I honestly cannot say what it was like being gay in school there, thought it would make growing up gay ore interesting! But being gay in Singapore was a whole other story. Basically it was a case of flying under the "radar" while studying in Singapore.
When it came to talking about girls and their endowments, or lack thereof, I could throw it out with the best of them. I have to confess I was guilty of the whole "gay bashing" speak, but I was 16! and would do anything to be accepted and popular. I would see those slightly effeminate schoolmates of mine and how ostracized they were in school; it was a nightmare to be in their shoes. I do not think I ever showed a hint of my sexuality while studying form the ages of 16 to 18, hell I was even afraid to look up in the changing room, I was that paranoid!
It helped a lot that I liked the "straight" sports and represented the school teams. Now, coming out to some of my ex-schoolmates. I would get comments like" what? no way" or "what?!? but you played for XXX".
Now in University, I am not afraid of coming out to anyone. While I do not scream it at the top of my lungs, neither do I deny it when asked; which makes life a whole lot more interesting, you never know who might be in the same "family". However sometimes one cannot help but come across a less than understanding individual. I do not bother with those - my time is too valuable.

Coming out to yourself:
I was lucky because I never went through the phase of denying my sexuality. While I was afraid of showing it when I was younger, I cannot remember me being any other way. I have NEVER been attracted to girls and during the time of the "awakening", when one discovers that there is an attraction beyond just friends, it has always been guys. You could sum my coming out to myself as always was and not knowing any other way. Something like circumcision, you never know what you have not got. In this case, what I have never got was the attraction to girls.

Coming out to friends:
First time I came out it was hard and for a period I lost my best friend. The first friend I came out to was to my best friend in school when I was 17, she had a hard time accepting that a guy could like/love/have a crush on another guy. But we talked through the issue and she realised that well I have always been gay from way before I came out to her. I was and always will be me, and her knowing or not knowing made no difference to who I am or will be.
Now I like to think I am a better judge of a person’s character, if they are able to accept the whole other side of the sexuality issue or not. If I get the vibe they are "cool" with it. I just tell them. My favourite phase would be to say "I can't do (insert action) cause I am gay!" or I just talk about guys in front of them and they get the hint. Most of my friends are straight, guys and girls and it has not made a difference of me coming out to them. In fact I have been set up once or twice on the same night of me telling them... Bless those kind people!

Coming out to family:
I was tempted to. But telling my family is not something I can take back, so I had to weigh the pros and cons of telling them and anticipation how my family would react especially my parents. After much thinking I came to the conclusion that with the expectations form my parents and the "role" that I have in the family, it would be better off not telling them.

First crushes/love/relationships and sex:
My first love was my first crush and heartache relationship - and the first person I had sex with. Actually it was my first everything. First time I kissed, dated or hugged in that special way. We had met through of the Internet sites. My best friend had set up a short personal ad for me right after the A level examinations and he was the first one to respond. I remember going to the meeting, I was so nervous!
Up to the time I actually met him at the train station my feet were literally going in the other direction... towards home! First few minutes it was instant attraction like a gong going off in my head and heart. I was 18 then and I could not stop talking! When I look back I admire him for his patience if nothing else. We dated for about a month and a half, after which he unceremoniously dumped me. And he did not even tell me! It was one of those "I am always busy" things. The hell I went through after that!

Issues of self-esteem and confidence were always around. Looking back it was a good experience. The life lessons that I carry with me till today were learnt because of that. Besides after that, as a physical manifestation of the change in my life I made myself over. Like picking out my clothes more carefully and trying to be "body beautiful".

Though I have to admit, I still do carry a tiny torch for him, and always will, in that small recess of my heart. Its called "The First" And if you are wondering about the sex. He says it was his first time too, so it was a lot of experimenting and a little fumbling. But since it happened when I was totally taken by him, I still count it as one of my best experiences so far.