WATCH: Bianca Gonzalez’s vlog features inspiring coming out stories
Just in time for Pride Month, Bianca Gonzalez interviewed three members of the LGBT community about their coming out experiences.
Gonzalez interviewed celebrity makeup artist Jigs Mayuga, director Sam Lee and celebrity fashion stylist Em Millan on their personal coming out stories for her vlog “Paano ba ‘to?”
Mayuga said he came out when he was 20, and that it has now been 20 years since he became openly gay.
For Lee, who directed the film “Baka Bukas” featuring a lesbian lead character, coming out only came after college at 23.
And for Millan, coming out happened twice, 15 years apart: first when she was still a gay high school boy, and then again when she decided to transition to become a woman.
Coming out is a process
Though each had a unique experience, a commonality was coming out to a trusted family member, usually their mom. It was easy to be out with friends, but family was a different story.
It’s also important to come out to yourself and accept one’s self before telling others.
Mayuga said he had always been asked by his mom if he was gay, but would deny it. “Mrs. Mayuga is very very confrontational so I got that actually from her,” he said.
“When I finally came out to myself, I thought na (that) the next time she does ask me about it, sasabihin ko na (I will come out).”
The opportunity came when they were in an Alabang chapel. His mom asked again and he finally said yes.
Surprisingly, his mom broke down. Her concern: that he would contract HIV.
Mayuga noted that parents also need to be educated. “HIV is not a gay disease, it’s just a stereotype,” he reminded.
While his mom was accepting of him, he was apprehensive of his dad. It was a year later when he came out to his father in Ateneo while with a Jesuit priest because “my mom wanted some form of spiritual guidance.”
“My dad was just very very quiet,” he recalled.
When he arrived home one day, his stuff was packed into boxes and he had to move in with his grandmother for about two weeks.
His father then talked to him in a cafe to say he didn’t understand what he was going through, but that he cared. “Ang gusto ko lang, respetuhin ka ng mga tao. Kasi pag may nambastos sa iyo lagot sila sa akin.”
(I just want that you’re respected by people. If someone is rude to you, they answer to me.)
Mayuga recommended the book “Outing Yourself” by Michelangelo Signorile as a “great resource for those struggling to come out.”
Staying in the closet means isolation
With Lee, coming out happened at a time of adversity: a first break-up.
Despite going to the University of the Philippines for college—“a super liberal, open school”—her Catholic education still made her feel that being attracted to girls was wrong.
However, when she and her first girlfriend broke up, she had no one to turn to and felt “isolated.”
The day after the break-up was a Sunday and she couldn’t spend time with friends, so she approached her mom.
“I went to my mom’s room and she was watching TV. I lay down beside her and I just started crying and I was like, ‘Mom, I’m gay,’” she recounted.
“My second sentence was ‘we broke up.’”
“All she said was, ‘I know, I’ve known for a while since you were a child,’” she narrated, stating that her mom’s fear was how she would be treated.
Lee said there had been signs of her being a lesbian because she enjoyed playing with “boy’s toys,” wore neckties as a child and had crushes on girls.
Still, she said it was important to allow those you come out to process the information. “I feel like whoever you come out to also needs time to reacquaint themselves with this new information.”
Coming out twice
The fashion-savvy Millan had to have a second coming out because she discovered SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression) only when she was older.
Sexual orientation is the gender one is sexually attracted to and gender identity is the gender one identifies with.
“When I turned 30, while I was oriented to men, my sexual orientation was to men, I never identified as a man,” she explained.
Coming out the first time in high school was a breeze: Her teachers in an all-boys school told her parents about her being gay (with her consent), and her family accepted it with no questions asked.
But 15 years on, she said “it never felt right” being an “effeminate gay man.”
It was only with the popularity of the Internet and researching more about LGBT topics, as well as meeting more open-minded people abroad that she realized she was the “t” in the LGBT, or transgender.
On coming out again, she approached her family members one by one, starting with her sister. “I’ve always been feminine. While I thought it was a label, I think it’s just right that they would also know the truth that I’m living.”
“I am a female and I want to express myself as a female,” she said.
“For 15 years I was feeling na may (that there was a) disjoint. When I realized that I was trans, ‘ah that’s why,’ everything made sense after that.” /ra
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