That Friday night felt like any other. We were in the bustling city of Hong Kong, and the American restaurant my family chose for dinner was filled with couples kindling their love over candlelit dinners. As my family gathered around the table, one particular couple caught my mother’s undivided attention from the opposite table. The two held hands, shared a kiss, and savored their desserts with smiles that are undeniably saturated with love. My mother frowned, confused and disgusted not because she condemns public display of affection, but because they were both women.
I can never forget that summer night and that look on my mother’s face, both of which can easily become my future. Love, I believe, is the most basic human right. It should not need justification, nor should it be any less sanctified between any two people, regardless of their gender. I wince at any thought of confrontation with my mother, because I cannot refute her argument against homosexuality, which she presented the following night when she sat my sister and myself down for a lecture on living the “correct life.”
…in society, there are two types of people. There are those who are normal — For example, a girl who dresses like one and dates boys. Then, there are those who are abnormal. They go against what is accepted by society. They don’t follow the rules.
The entire time, I felt the pressure of her words weigh upon my shoulders. My face flushed red with embarrassment, and seeming not to notice, my mother continued, “ I saw two girls in the restaurant yesterday. They were kissing and doing this and that. It makes me sick. They chose to be that way, to be part of the abnormal, to go against convention, to live a wrong life. I trust that you guys will choose correctly.”
With that, she dropped the topic, Nonetheless, her words embedded themselves in my mind, playing on loop like a broken record —“they chose to be that way…it makes me sick…I trust you will choose the right life.”
I have battled for years with my “choice”. Did I not think this through enough, or was I not thinking at all? I remember thinking how much better it would be if my mother believed in God. At least then, she’ll say, “God thinks you are wrong,” instead of “I think you are wrong.” For someone non-religious like me, I would feel much less attacked. But my mother still does not understand why I have that awkward smile when she asks me if I have a boyfriend; why I walk away when a butch girl appears on television; and why being a lesbian is not my choice.
In front of my mother, I am still hiding. I hope that when I push open the closet doors, she won’t let my sexuality cloud her vision of the daughter she has known for 17 years.
Thankfully, these past four years, I have found immense support from my high school and my friends who gave me the confidence to truly be myself. Some of my teachers who are LGBTQ have shared their experiences with me and have given me valuable advice about dealing with parents, coming out, and other concerns. On the other hand, my friends have fully accepted me for who I am and although most of them are straight, have openly conversed with me about my love life, family, and the emotional burden that comes from being a lesbian. I am forever grateful to have people in my life whom I can trust and console in and I lean on this support until I can fully be true to myself.
Have you had similar experiences? What kinds of such support have you received or provided in the past? Please share by commenting below!