Let Me Count The Ways...
12 years old, grade 6, 1982 – 1sttime to “come out” to accept one’s feelings to another female schoolmate. She was a volleyball player and I never even gave her a second glance. But one day everything changed. She was like walking in slow motion, her smile magnetized me that I can’t look away. I find myself searching for her during the morning flag ceremony and I would glow inside every time she smiles as me. She never knew she was my first crush.
16 years old, 4thyear high school, 1986 – 1sttime to “come out” and accept myself as woman who can still have a bright future despite having feelings with another woman. It was emotionally hard during those time to accept one’s feelings because it was 1986 - no internet, no out and proud LGBTI persons doing LGBTI rights work, no positive role models on TV (they always die in the end if there are any and the gay men, I can’t relate to), and no happy, old and successful LGBTI people around you while growing up. Despite this grim scenario, I made the decision to accept that I am me, and that I just have to focus on finishing school, finding a job and just try to find happiness. It’s like taking the giant leap on the edge of a cliff not knowing how deep the water will be or if there will be water at the bottom.
21 years old, 3rdyear college, 1991 – 1sttime to “come out” and discovered the word ‘lesbian’ and embrace it as who I am. At the library at the College of Social Work and Community Development at the University of the Philippines, I saw the book “Permanent Partners: Building Gay and Lesbian Relationships that Lasts” by Betty Berzon and saw the word ‘gay’… and ‘’lesbian’ and bam!!! I am lesbian! This is me! I took the book and read it again and again for weeks and returned the book after a few months. I am lesbian.
26 years old, working, 1996 – 1sttime to “come out’ as a lesbian feminist. When I discovered a lesbian organization, I volunteered to archive and do the mini-library and it was book heaven! I consumed, devoured and ingest all the feminist, LGBT, human rights books. One of the best times indeed!!
47 years old, 2019 – haven’t stopped continuously coming out to diverse groups of people every time I conduct workshops, lectures, discussions, reports. As an LGBTI person, coming out is both a bane and a gift. While it is a bane because we will never stop coming out to people in different time, location and opportunity, coming out is also a gift. It gives us a chance to challenge, educate and make people think and reassess their feelings towards LGBTI people. I make them see I am as normal and as crazy as them. Coming out is an opportunity of new ties, strengthening ties, or ending ones.
As an LGBTI activist, we never stopped coming out. We never should.
Published on October 9, 2019 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization