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"Coming out is an ongoing process that someone has to go through in order to be comfortable with their sexuality. You don't just come out once, you do it every single day of your life."

For as long as I can remember, I have always been conscious of my sexuality. I grew up in Chinatown and attended a predominantly Chinese elementary school. I can remember as far back as third grade when me and my other girl friend would sit around during recess and look at the other girls. We knew we couldn't tell anybody. We saw how the other kids treated Jason. He gave "us" a bad rep and because of that, I was afraid to come out.

Growing up was hard. I really didn't know that there was a difference between guys and girls until I went to school. I can remember instances such as Cinco de Mayo when the teacher would make all the girls wear dresses. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to wear a dress and yet she threatened to fail anyone that didn't. That's just the way the gender roles in society are constructed.

The first time I came out was around fifth or sixth grade. I remember beating around the bush before I could finally tell my friend about my feelings. It didn't really matter how close we were. It's a scary society where you never know how the other person will react.

As far as how I "define" myself, I guess I would have to call myself a lesbian. I don't like labels at all. There are so many different meanings to every label that you have to be very careful what you call yourself. I feel comfortable with the term lesbian because of how I've defined the word:

"To be lesbian is to have oneself, a woman, in a culture that denigrates and despises women. The lesbian rejects male sexual/ political domination; she defies his world, his social organizations, his ideologies, and his definition of her as inferior"- Charlotte Bunch

My family found out about "me" when I was in ninth grade. My dad went through my room and read the letters I had written to my lover. He almost broke my arm. I knew that if I cried he wouldn't hurt me. I had to lie and say that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding. "My friends are gay, but I'm not." My dad sat me down and gave me the whole Chinese parent speech, "A man should be with a woman..." All I can really remember was nodding my head and saying "yes" over and over. He probably thought that it was just a phase.

When my dad told my mom she just remained silent on the whole issue. She was in her denial phase. Every time I would try to bring it up, she would dismiss me by saying, "Oh, that again! When are you growing to grow out of that?"

Today it's a totally different story. They accept me for who I really am- their daughter. This was a really important part in my coming out process because they were my main concern. Once they accepted me I knew I would be ready to come out to other people. However, it is really hard to come out to a Chinese family. It is very limiting. I have drifted away from my favorite uncle because of my sexuality. I totally wish that he knew. This guy is extremely traditional, "Because you're a woman you cannot fight or rebel, no matter how hard it gets. Only lesbians do those kind of things." His words stuck to me for the longest time.

Besides that, I LOVE being out. It's such a liberating feeling to be honest to yourself and to the others around you. The gay community is great. The support from the community is really empowering. People don't assume that you're straight all the time. It's a whole new world. Before, I was so scared to come out because I thought that once I did, I would be on my own. People in the closet don't see all the good things that are on the "other side." People in the closet shouldn't think that they have to go through this experience alone. There is a community out there, a community that will love and support you.

I once thought that there was nothing worth fighting for... that I should just give up and act straight. Now that would've been the real story...




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