Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Coming out time.

I've told people my coming out story before...hell I've even told it as part of the play "Weaving Voices", back in 1995. I don't think I've ever told the whole story. So here it is.

I'm Chinese, what that means to me, is that I grew up pretty much attached to my family. My family was everything to me...especially my mom. My parents were uneducated and could only do menial jobs when we came to the States. My dad was a busboy and my mom worked as a seamstress and a dishwasher. We three kids (brother, sister and myself) had school. Our weekends became very precious to us, since it was the only time we could really spend time as a family.

We went downtown a lot. We could go to all the stores and play with the toys and not have to pay a dime! It was on one of those trips when my mother pointed to two women walking on the street. I didn't know what she was pointing to...all I saw were two ladies walking. My mom kept pointing at them and told me that they were "kum sul", "monsters". I had never heard that term being used for people. Kum sul meant monsters. Monsters that killed you or ate you alive. I became afraid...the ladies were only holding hands.

I took this in and would remember this incident for the rest of my life. People of the same gender can't hold hands. I later learned that these people are gay. Gay people are bad, they were monsters.

Growing up was hard with this knowledge. I never felt any feelings for girls. At the time, I thought this was normal, since I was pretty young. As I got older, I started thinking this was strange...not to like girls. My friends and the kids around me were starting to date. There were several girls that left school. I later found out they were pregnant. I never believed any of the boys bragging about fucking till then. I wondered what it felt like, to love (lust?) someone enough to want to fuck her. I was twelve during this time.

I thought about it alot. My friends were always talking about who liked who. When they asked me, I would always avoid the question or answer that I didn't like anyone (which was the truth). I didn't have any feelings for anyone, boy or girl. That didn't satisfy my friends and they kept pestering me about it. I'm sad to say that I couldn't take it anymore and thought of what would satisfy them. I knew a lot of boys in my class liked this girl, "Christine". Christine and I hanged together a lot. So I told them I liked her. That seemed to satisfy them finally. Later on that year, I would tell Christine that I liked another girl, "Sandy". Sandy and I met in the Computer Club and were the co-presidents. We spent some time together that year because of that. I was thirteen.

I don't know why I told Christine that I liked Sandy. It was kinda like our lil secret. She kept trying to get me to ask her out. I would always say that I was too shy. I wasn't shy, I just wasn't interested. I liked her a lot as a friend, but didn't have any feelings beyond that. Hell, I didn't have any feelings at all. I thought I was some weirdo without any feelings. At some point, I figured that the feelings of friendship that I felt for Sandy, was love. I never really believed that, but I didn't want to be weird anymore.

Flash forward a few years. I'm now 16 and I had just transfered to a new high school. A friend of mine from middle school convinced me to take a Peer Counseling class. At first I thought it was a class for people with mental problems LOL. I decided to give it a try after my friend explained what the class was about. That the students learn how to help each other by gaining new skills and practicing them. This class gave my life meaning. I've always liked helping others and this class gave me that in spades.

In that class, we learned the skills we needed to be able to talk to our peers. Talk is actually a misnomer, we actually learned how to listen. It was amazing how hard it is to listen. One of the things we learned when working with clients on problems, is that they usually know what is needed to solve it. Our job as peer counselors was to help them figure it out for themselves. To do that, we learned about different subjects everyweek.

We covered many subjects over the year. One week, we were talking about homosexuality. We went around the room where we would say what gender we like now, what we would like in tomorrow and what we would like beyond that. Everyone around the room were saying what they liked. It was pretty boring actually. Boys would say they liked girls. Girls would say they like boys. I was actually thinking in my head what I would say. I was rehersing and trying to find the right words so that I didn't sound stupid. I was going to say, "I like girls now. I'll like girls tomorrow and I'll like girls in the future. What came out of my mouth was, "I don't know right now, and I don't know what I'll like in the future."

My classmates were shocked. People that had fallen asleep woke up immediately. One of my classmates asked me what did I mean "I didn't know" and did I like guys. That's when I told them I didn't know and that I didn't have any feelings either way, towards guys or girls. The teacher eventually calmed the class down and we never talked about it again.

During this time. I was working on Fisherman's Wharf at a T-Shirt shop called "Super Sports". It's no longer there, but it was actually three stores: Super Shirts, Super Sports and Super Sweats. All three stores were in the same shopping complex and on the same street. It was actually kinda nice that they were connected in the back and that's where our lockers and breakroom were. The people from each store would be back there to get ready for work, chat or just to chill with each other. That's where I met "Kevin".

Kevin worked at Super Shirts and was a blond hair, blue eyed sufer dude, and I think I was in love with him. I didn't realize it at the time of course. I just knew that whenever I was in that room and he came in, I would be happy. It didn't matter how I was feeling. I could be having the worst day of my life, but when Kevin came into the room, I would brighten up.

I got to know the people working at Super Shirts better over time. They were a fun bunch and partied all the time. They started inviting me along and I would join them on the weekends. I used to drink Remy Martin and never really liked that kind of drink, so I mostly had winecoolers at the parties. Kevin lived with two other co-workers "Tony" and "Bunch" and they invited me over to their place to party one time. It was just the four of us and soon Bunch left and went back to her room. So it was just Kevin, Tony and myself. I felt really weird. I was used to larger parties and didn't know how to act. I was really tipsy at this time and can barely remember anything. I do remember that I wanted to go home...that I needed to go home. It was just a feeling that I had. They asked me to stay overnight. I told them that I didn't tell my mom that I was going to stay overnight, so I had to go. They told me to call home, but I said that was too late and didn't want to wake her up. While this was happening, I wondered what was I doing. My mom never worried about me and I was practically lying through my teeth...what was I worried about. But something told me that I had to leave that place, so I did. I said sorry and left. I kinda regretted it as I made my way home. It was really late, around 3AM and so I had to walk home. I got home around 5AM and just slept the whole day.

Several years later, I eventually hook up with Kevin and we dated for a while. He told me that it was a good thing that I left that night...Tony wanted to rape me. I really didn't know how to respond to that. I asked Kevin if he would've raped me as well. He told me no, that he really liked me, but would never force himself on me. To be honest, I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not. I think that if I had stayed that night, maybe it would've saved me several years of confusion and I would've came out much sooner.

But I didn't, and I wasn't. So I continued with my life, one day at a time.

I eventually graduated from High School and started dating Sandy. I had thought I was in love with her all this time and that because my love for her was so strong, no other feelings for other people could compare. Boy was I fucked up.

We dated for several months, from December till August. We actually stopped before that, but the relationship just kinda faded and it's kinda hard to tell when it really ended. We were both very busy with school and work and in her case, with the church. I was working 3 jobs at the time and when I picked up another job...I couldn't spend anymore time with her during the week. Her weekends were taken up with the church so we never saw each other then. So we ended up on the phone a lot...then less and less. Kinda sad, but kinda normal too.

I had really enjoyed doing volunteer work through the Peer Counseling class and all those activities during high school. I decided to get back into it, but didn't know how. I saw some ads for AIDS Dance-A-Thon and thought to see if they need any volunteers. They did! So I did some volunteer work with them. I was doing the registration of dancers coming to the event and worked with two other guys, Rheno and Timo.

Rheno, Timo and I had a great time registering dancers and decided to stick together after we finished our shift. We ended up dancing together for hours. I kinda thought it was weird that I was dancing with two guys instead of my girlfriend...but oh well. It was about 11PM and I said that I had to go. I didn't have a car and was relying on MUNI to get home. Rheno and Timo followed and left with me. Timo actually lived near me and was taking a taxi home and offered me a ride. So I said, "Sure!" Beats the bus right?

Once we got to Timo's place, he asked if I wanted to come upstairs for a while. I said, "Sure, why not." We hanged out and chatted a little and Timo asked if I wanted a massage. I said ok and he started to massage my shoulders. He asked me to take off my shirt. Stupid me, I was thinking that he wanted me to take off my shirt so that he would have an easier time giving me a massage. I declined and told him that the shoulder rub was enough. He got confused by my reaction. Timo asked me to lay down. I said, "Here on the couch?". He said that we could go into the bedroom if I'd like. Here's where I earn my stupid card. I still thought he just wanted to give me a massage and declined. He tried several times more and I resisted each time. I finally got the idea that he wanted to have sex with me!

Wow, what a shock! I told him that I was a virgin, straight and had a girlfriend. I know, I know...it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull or something. How was I supposed to know that would make him want me even more! Luckily we ended up talking for the rest of the night and I went home.

This whole experience got me thinking...I didn't think about my girlfriend Sandy this whole time. I said no to Timo, not because he was a guy, but because I was in a relationship with another person. Actually, I found Timo to be quite attractive! This surprised me even more. I thought about going back to Timo's place and taking him up on his offer even! The next day, I was hanging out with my friend Kevin (we've known each other since we were 11) and I told him my problems. He thought I was having problems with Sandy. I told him it was a bigger than that! I told him that I think I was bisexual and then told him about what happened with Timo. He took everything in stride and everything was cool and we moved on to other subjects.

I had such a good time volunteering with the AIDS Dance-A-Thon, I decided to continue doing AIDS charities. The AIDS Walk was happening and I wanted to help out before the event. I called up the office and they said that I could drop in and help out with whatever needed doing. I said that would be great.

On my first day there, I ended up helping with mailings and stuff. Boring stuff, but I met some really nice people who were also volunteering. The next night I went back and asked what I could help with and was told that signs needed to be made and could I make signs? I said I could if I'm told what to write and went into the room. While I was working on a sign, this big guy walked in, turned right around and went back out. At first I thought, he must've been lost, then I heard a loud yell outside. The guy who had just in and walked back out, had entered the room. I said hi and introduced myself and then asked him what happened outside. He told me nothing. I was actually concerned and thought that maybe someone was hurt, so I went outside. I didn't see anyone hurt, so went back in. That's how I met "Matt".

Matt was the resident sign-maker. He would draw everything in outline and I would fill it in. It worked out pretty well actually. We ended working together for quite a while, chatting the whole time. I didn't know it, but Matt was the person that yelled that first day and liked me from that day on. My stupid card was definitely well deserved. I kept seeing Matt each time I helped out and we eventually exchanged phone numbers. From then on, we would chat almost everynight. On one of those phone conversations, he asked me about sex. I told him that I was a virgin and had never had sex before. He asked if I had done anything and I responded that I had never done anything. He asked me if I jacked off. I told him that I did. Then Matt asked if I had ever jacked off while on the phone. I started laughing. I couldn't help it....it was just too funny to me, but said that I had never done anything like that. Then he asked me if I would like to try. I said no. I didn't say no the next time he asked.

On that call, he had me describe what I was doing, how my dick looked and what it felt like. The whole time, I couldn't get over how much Matt was getting into it! I thought, "What a freak!", but it was turning me on! One time turned into a regular thing. We started going out a lot. In a way it was kinda sweet. Like he was courting me. The AIDS Walk happened and it was great seeing all the signs we worked on all over the place. I was so tired passing out things to walkers, it seemed like it would never end, but it did eventually.

August came and by now, Matt and I were hanging out almost every day. If we didn't see each other, we would chat on the phone. One of our friends, a guy that worked at AIDS Walk was having a birthday dinner, and Matt asked if I'd like to go with him. I said, "Sure". We went to "Leticia's" on Market Street. There were about 12 of us and it took forever to get seated. I sat next to Matt during dinner. The table was covered with a long tablecloth that went down to our knees. Our party was pretty squished in, but we all had room to move. Somehow, Matt and I started holding hands. I don't know if he put his hand on mine or mine his, but we were holding hands...and I liked it.

It was the most comfortable thing in the world, just holding hands. I felt so free, so natural. I looked at Matt and found him looking back at me. I realized that I was feeling more emotions for this man that I've only known for 3 months, than my girlfriend that I supposedly love for for over 7 years. I realized that I was gay.


Robert said...

Wow, somebody went thru quite a bit! :-) What a great story!

As far as coming out, I believe we all have our own 'timetable'... To me, I think there's always a 'need' to come out to yourself, to truly realize who you are and to appreciate yourself unconditionally. It's an exhilerating experience.

Thanks for sharing that. 'kum sul', I know exactly what that means! :-)

AiYahh said...

Thanks Robert. Yes, I agree that we all have our own timetable...some shorter than others. I was on Tribe.net and seeing people coming out so early on, makes me feel kinda weird...almost like I'm in a race or something...which I know I'm not.

It's great to see other's thinking the same way :)