A student’s story of coming out to her conservative Asian mother

Maria Ly
Staff Writer

Rumbling stomach, teary eyes, and thoughts of running into the middle of the highway. These were my lowest moments after I sat through a grueling, at-home conversion therapy session with my mother. 

National Coming Out Day is today. When I think about coming out, I think about fear, strength, and probably the worst and best moments of my life. 

I remember sitting in my high school cafeteria when my sister told me that my mom found my diaries and that she called her. I remember crying in the counselor’s office waiting for my mom, begging the counselor to “please don’t let her take me.” I remember seeing my mom with no makeup in public for the first time.

I remember the words of hate yelled at me from someone who was supposed to love me. I remember the tight grip she had on my wrist when she dragged me out of the school. 

I remember the sermons that spewed out homophobia my mother made me watch. I remember the videos of testimonies of women to afraid to speak their truth, claiming that they changed and that I could to.

I remember the highlighted Bible quotes and the dry throat I got from reciting it aloud so many times. I remember the bruises on my knees from kneeling down in prayer for so long, my mother telling me exactly what to pray. Sorry God. 

I remember the pain in my heart when lying in my bedroom thinking of ways to kill myself. I remember telling my mom it was a phase.

“Good,” she said. 

I remember my confidence and self-esteem being sucked out of me the minute she closed my bedroom door. I remember the years of trying to change and fear of people finding out. I didn’t want to be gay anymore because that meant my mom will never love me. 

I remember looking in the mirror and coming out to myself, and the wholeness I felt. I remember her, her beauty, her laugh, her smell. I remember a lot of girls. I remember my first kiss, my first date, my first girlfriend. I remember saying, “Fuck it,” and telling my older sister.

I remember the relief. I remember telling my friends, my younger siblings, my aunt, my cousin, my classmates, and my coworkers. I remember that feeling of freedom and all that emotional burden falling off my back. I finally felt like I was living. 

I used to think the phrase, “things will get better,” was just something that people said but didn’t actually happen. Just some lame motivational quote. For me things got better, but some things still suck. I think I’m ok with that.

My coming out story is not over, in fact it feels like it just started. However, for once, I’m finally brave enough to say, “I’m so gay.” 

Feature photo by Maria Ly | MSU Reporter.

One thought on “A student’s story of coming out to her conservative Asian mother

  • Daniel Sebold

    Beautifully written. However, I sense the article leads one to believe that Asians are conservative about homosexuality and need to catch up to Americans on the coming out phenomenon. CNN a few years ago did a story on Japan and how supposedly homophobic that culture is. This is fake news, of course, for any of us who have traveled there as there are ads on you tube for a Japanese gay teenage boy prep school love movie, a gay version of the novel, A Separate Peace. You can download the Japanese movie, Waterboys, on You Tube complete, about a boys synchronized swimming team and its theme of homophobia. In America such a film would be censored as gay pedophilia. On the internet there are lots of photos of Japanese gay couples as well as straight Japanese males wearing hanzubon short shorts and swimming attire that are today considered too gay for American culture. I defy you to find a pair of Speedoes or Arena swimming ware or short short runners at pro gay/transgender Target in the men and boys departments. There seems to be very little choice these days other than knee length shorts and swimming suits for American males, gay or straight, in our land of unbridled capitalism. A look at the latest New York City gay pride parade on You Tube is proof that gay males have far more strict hemline restrictions on their bodies than they did in the sixties and seventies. In fact, Speedoes and short shorts on males go all the way back to the first Tarzan movie in 1932 and were worn in every decade up until 1988. Check out photos of Johnny Weismuler from in his 1930’s bikini on the internet. I don’t think you can find a sex object male swimmer in the American media today. Marks Spitz from from the 1968 Olympic Team is a long lost memory. All you will find is Kim Kardassians bum shown to you your Yahoo News page.

    You wont’t find this type of homophobic sexism discussed in your Gender Studies class. It is taboo. There is, however, no problem finding this stuff at Robinson’s Deparment stores in nearby Bangkok (Thailand is well known for its gay/transgender katoui boys) or here in Siem Reap, Cambodia in the Old Market, or strangely enough, in the souks of Saudi Arabia where I have lived, where men and women’s bikinis are sold to Saudis for use in private beaches and private clubs. I have traveled in China and know very little about the culture’s overall attitudes towards homosexuality, though I did witness the phenomenon while there and noticed that there is or was at the time far less sexism and homophobia in the clothing styles than what you currently find in the land of the free.

    Daniel Sebold
    MSU alumnus and retired English teacher living in Siem Reap, Cambodia


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