Friday, February 9, 2007

M. F., Filipino; Walnut, CA, 19

Growing up, I was never exposed to anything such as homosexuality. I grew up in a small town where the majority of the people I knew were white conservatives. It was difficult enough to be a minority living in an all white neighborhood, and being openly gay at that time would have just complicated things even further. It's strange because I led a completely straight life, or at least attempted to, without even knowing that I was in fact gay. I had girlfriends, I liked girls; or at least I thought I did. I never really understood what attracted me to them. It could have been their outfit choices and femininity for all I know.

After moving to Walnut and making a diverse group of friends, I realized that I became increasingly curious about men. It was in my sophomore or junior year of high school when I first came out to someone. I remember that day and the days to follow as if they were just yesterday. I remember being so scared when someone would confront me about it and ask me if what people were saying was true. A part of me always wanted to deny it and continue to keep myself closeted, but I didn't. I discovered that being gay isn't something that I should be ashamed of, and I also realized that people respected and accepted me more when I truly acted like myself.

In the few months following my "coming out," I experienced more things than I have in my entire life. I was very reckless and I went through all of the things that people usually experience at older ages. I had smoked, drank alcohol, gone clubbing, and had sex. But aside from all of those things that I did, I also had my first meaningful relationship with a guy. In the time that we were together, it was incredible. But, as an example of the stereotype that gay relationships usually don't last very long, our relationship came to an end. I have to admit, that just until recently, I believed in that description of the stereotypical gay male. I believed that all gay men are out to just hook up and have sex without any of the responsibilities that come with it. I also believed that gay relationships never last and usually end because of infidelity or loss of interest. But, being with my boyfriend now, I have gained so much confidence in our community and I believe that all of those views can be changed, and that we should seriously make examples of those who stray away from those stereotypes.

Now, being a first year in college and being out to the majority of my friends and a few members of my family, I have grown to become a more aware and more responsible person. I'm still 'within the scene' and, like most people of our community, go to Rage and network on myspace and downelink. But, I'm safer about what I do and who I become friends with and I think that's something really important that we should all practice. Being who we are, it will probably always be a struggle for us, but I realized that being gay is more of a unique characteristic than a flaw.