I was only ten when I made the discovery about my sexuality.
For a kid that age, I must say I was pretty well-acquainted with technology; at that point of time, browsing the internet was based on a dial-up connection. I would often do searches on MSN and — I had no idea how — I ended up searching for terms like “naked men” or “men in uniform”.
I felt a strange excitement as I scrolled through the websites and images.
For a long time, I had no adult supervision with my internet activity, until one fine day, my sister discovered my browsing history (not so savvy after all, huh?) and I went through a series of nagging from Mom.
It finally ended when an aunt of mine consoled her by saying that I probably did those searches due to my ambition of becoming a doctor, and that I was just studying the anatomy of men.
From then on, I vowed to stay on the “right” path and remain straight.
By fifteen, I already had a total of four failed relationships with girls. I felt awkward with them and when there were attempts to be intimate, I felt uncomfortable. Eventually, I came to a conclusion that there was no way I could feel attracted to girls OR women.
It was also during this point of time, that I came out to my one and only straight male friend; not wanting to sound too extreme, I admitted to him that I was “bisexual”. I was really afraid of possibly losing the only close male friend I had, but heaved a sigh of relief when he put his arm around my shoulders and said these exact words:
“If I don’t accept you, then who will?”
I felt free and gratified. I could be myself, keep my best friend, and not worry about telling anyone else. Yes, that included my family; I never had the intention of coming out to my family, for the fear of being disowned.
I was sixteen when I had my first relationship.
He was nine years older than me. We shared the same birthday and a love for music (he was a saxophonist). Our time together was spent innocently with visits to the zoo, the swimming pool, and the nightlife in town. My parents still had no idea about my sexuality and thought that he was merely my “best friend”. I never brought him home, for I was too young and still afraid of being found out.
We had a year of pure, non-sexual love with each other…until it ended abruptly. I never got proper closure and was pretty much left to pick up the broken pieces on my own. Though eventually, I did find out that partly it was because I was too clingy and possessive.
A year on, I met a man who soon became my boyfriend for the next 5 years of my life.
I was brazen enough to bring this one home to stay over. It initially started out with him not having a place to stay, as his house was getting crowded. Hence, I offered him to stay over, introducing him as “my best friend” to Mom and Dad.
We would sleep in the living room, as both my married sisters were still occupying the two out of three rooms in the house. Obviously, there was no hanky-panky involved, as we were in plain sight and anyone could have walked in on us if we did. DUH!
He stayed over frequently, and I was enjoying the company.
Then came the unfortunate day when my mom’s jewelry went “missing”. My brother-in-law, whom my second sister is married to, gathered the whole family together with my (then) partner, and requested for all our particulars to be “submitted to the police”.
Unbeknownst to me, it was actually sort of a ploy to expose me in front of the family.
“Are you gay?” my brother-in-law asked.
He pointed to my (then) partner. “Is he your boyfriend?”
I was at a loss for words. Backed up against the wall, there was no way I could lie. Tears flowed, drama ensued. My (then) partner and I? Stoical.
To support his exposé, the same brother-in-law and his wife went on with a series of slander, describing how my (then) partner and I was hugging, kissing and petting each other in the living room. All of these, without any form of evidence.
As I mentioned earlier, there was NO WAY we could have done any of the above; it was too risky.
Eventually, my (then) partner got chased out of the house. I was not.
Being a naive eighteen year old who was full of love, I packed my bags, brought a tent, and followed behind. He asked me to head back home. I defiantly refused. I could not bear to see him suffer alone outside while I lived in the comfort of my own home. Then again, “comfort” was subjective, after all that happened.
We pitched the tent at the beach near the restaurant we worked at, and spent at least one month there. Apart from being financially tight, we also had to shower in the toilet of the restaurant before work, and if we were lucky, sneaked some meals back to our tent at the end of our shifts (which lasted between 5pm till 1am). On Saturday nights when our shift ended at 3am, we were allowed to sleep in the restaurant to prepare for Sunday Brunch at 9am.
It was a really trying period for us, but thankfully we stood by each other, despite getting on each other’s nerves during work. We get TOO professional with each other at times.
After my second sister moved out, things started to get better again.
I occupied her room and my parents allowed my (then) partner to stay over again, once in a while. My parents began treating him like their own son and would often call him up, if they needed help around the house. Even up till now.
I believe my parents have come to terms with my sexuality. Though coming from a conservative Malay-Muslim family, it has been swept under the carpet. They don’t want to acknowledge it or find out any further, and I respect that.
Also, partly thanks to the struggle my (then) partner and I went through, we have managed to remain amicable with each other up till today.
As for my brother-in-law? I forgave him. In fact, thanks to him, I do not have to live a lie anymore; my parents know that I will never be with a woman, and that is good enough for me.
Just as long as I am not deprived of the love I deserve.