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Op-Ed

Coming out as a waiting game

There was a time when Sunshine Lavariel did not accept being gay, which may be when her struggles in coming out to her parents began. But she realized that “I can’t just ‘quit’ being gay—it’s not a vice you go to rehab to fix or an illness to be cured.” And so coming out became a necessity.

I hadn’t always been gay.

Or rather, I had never always accepted that I was.

Perhaps that was where my struggles in coming out to my parents began. I have a rather close-knit traditional family and a disciplined upbringing—my father was in the military since he was a teen, I have an aunt who was a nun and an uncle who’s a priest in a Catholic university.

The trouble was also influenced by my parents’ unspoken but obvious belief that being gay is a choice. It was difficult enough to convince them that being gay is not a lifestyle one chooses to fit in when it’s convenient. It’s not like smoking, a habit I’ve picked up sometime between my experimental days in college and the pressures of being a working student and the eldest child. I can quit smoking anytime I want to (I had done so before for a period of two years before I started again).

But I can’t just ‘quit’ being gay—it’s not a vice you go to rehab to fix or an illness to be cured.

I’ve told my mom (no guts yet to come out to my dad) that I’m not gay because I choose to be, it’s who I am. Bashfulness aside, I’ve always strived to be a good daughter, sister and niece to my family—providing for them, looking after their needs and being there when they need me. I told her I still am and that I’ll always be their little girl. Being gay doesn’t change that.

More than two years have passed since that conversation with my mom. We’ve never really brought up the topic again but there have been less and less questions about my plans to settle down, have a boyfriend, get married and have kids.

Perhaps I think she doesn’t ask because she’s afraid to hear the answer. Someday, I also know that the time will come when I have to be honest and come clean again. There’s a big possibility that she might still not accept me as I am. I might have been a daddy’s girl up until high school but it’s ultimately my mom who’s always been my saving grace. All I could want is for her to respect who I am—respect me enough so I don’t need any more pretenses.

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It’s not easy, I know. I understand that she needs time for the acceptance that I will not pressure her to give. I am not a usually patient person but I’m willing to wait for my mom no matter how long it takes, even if it takes years or decades.

After all, love is not just about unconditional acceptance but also knowing to wait, right?

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