Speak, Stories

This Pride Month: On “Coming Out” to Family as a Chinoy

The term, “coming out”, refers to the process of recognizing, embracing, and appreciating one’s sexual orientation or identity. It entails both exploring one’s identity and sharing it with others. Individuals do not go through the journey of coming out at the same rate. The process is highly personalized. It occurs in various ways and at various ages for different people. Some people discover their sexual identity at a young age, while others discover it later in life. Coming out is an ongoing and at times, a lifetime, journey.

Coming out is definitely not easy. Our Chinoy culture firmly imposes sexual orientation and gender identity standards, and most people are taught that they must be heterosexual and act in accordance with society’s view of their gender. Those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community may feel different or isolated because they do not fit into the roles expected of them by their family, friends, or society as a whole. Coming out essentially entails confronting those reactions and views toward LGBTQ+ individuals. 

For those who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, it may sometimes seem like they are living on the verge of a difficult-to-navigate junction. Some may find the experience quick and easy, while others may find it longer and more challenging. Others may even try to repress their emotions to conform to cultural norms or their parents’ expectations. This may result in them feeling overwhelmed by all of these emotions, increasing their risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.  

The great majority of Chinoys who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are children of straight or heterosexual parents. These parents may have implicit or explicit negative sentiments toward homosexuality and may expect their children to be heterosexual as well. Similarly, the vast majority of transgender and/or gender-nonconforming children are born to cisgender and/or gender-conforming parents who frequently have negative attitudes toward those who violate societal expectations for gender identity, expression, and roles and expect their children to be cisgender and gender-conforming as well.

This, however, is not always the case! Although coming out can be stressful, it can also be a liberating and empowering experience. It can even be an opportunity for one to be their true and authentic self. They can come across a large community of individuals that are similar to them and feel encouraged and motivated. Even if it is frightening to consider coming out to others, the payoff can sometimes be worth the risk. Some loved ones may reject their child, but they also may celebrate their child’s sexual identity. Some parents may even demonstrate their love and support for their child immediately, but they still need time to adjust. While it may take them days, weeks, or months to accept their child’s sexuality or gender identity, most of these parents exhibit unconditional love and support for their child, even if they don’t show it or fully grasp everything.

Even if the parents’ initial reaction is negative, they can eventually learn to support their LGBTQ+ child. It is important to remember that both the parents and their child are normally behaving out of love and concern, even if it doesn’t appear that way. If their child comes out to them, they must remember to give them credit for doing something quite tough. Their child will come out to many individuals multiple times during their lives. They may be approved at times, but they may also be rejected. Despite what they may experience in the future, beginning their road with their parents’ love and acceptance may help them establish a feeling of self-worth and confidence to confront future challenges and lead a healthier and happier life.

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