Here is another dedicated reader who would like to share his story with you. Enjoy!
Who am I? I guess I could try and describe myself in mundane terms: My name is David Lai, and I am a Junior in high school. I love to play many different instruments and sing. I also enjoy playing tennis for my high school team and working out on a regular basis.
I never really know how to explain myself to other people without labeling myself. All I know is that I am me, and I like who I am. I love who I am.
My parents brought me from China to America when I was 4 years old, and every day I am unbelievably thankful that they have. Growing up, I had a rough time adjusting to two cultures. At home, I learned how to behave in Chinese culture, and at school I learned how to thrive in an American culture. Undoubtedly, there are many clashes between the two cultures, but the conflict between the two has made me realize there is always more than one perspective. I know that this is a hackneyed epiphany – Disney has been all over this theme – but like a good Disney movie, my life has turned out pretty darn great.
One of the reasons I am thankful that I live in (a liberal part of) America is because I can tell people I am gay and continue to live my life without too much hassle. It is wrong to stereotype, I realize, but bluntly put: the possibility that I would come out in China is much smaller than the possibility of me coming out in America Life would be like an excruciatingly long and dramatic high school experience – rumors spread like wildfire, people entertained by mindless gossip, etc… Coming out in China would cause much gossip amongst my family and garner many looks of scorn from my peers.
For instance, my second maternal aunt shuns men, the idea of marriage and children, and lives with her best girl “friend”. She claims she is just not interested in men, and because of this my aunt has been questioned as a “lesbian suspect” by the government. (They thought it was suspicious that she was 50+ years old and still living in an apartment with another woman. She works for the government, which I believe is against gay rights) My mother’s family also talked behind her back about her living situation. In China, getting married and having children is a major social pressure, even more so than it is in America.
Luckily, I probably won’t have to deal with these social pressures to such an extreme extent – I can’t imagine the American government coming to my home and questioning my sexuality! I know my parents love me unconditionally, even if I were gay (they “don’t know” but it’s heavily implied). I also know that even if they do not accept my homosexuality, I have plenty of other people who would go to great lengths to show their love and support of me, regardless of my sexuality.
I didn’t always think like this, however. When I first began to realize I couldn’t suppress my homosexuality I was incredibly afraid of the consequences my sexuality could bring upon me. One of the first things I worried about when I came out was how my tennis team would treat me. It didn’t help that I was insecure about my tennis skills either; freshman year, I barely made the cut for the team and played last doubles on JV. After coming out – between the end of my first tennis season and summer – I thought “Great, I’ll be the gay kid who can’t play sports. I won’t have anything to back myself up.” Surprisingly enough, my sophomore year I made the jump to Varsity, beating out all the kids that had scoffed at my skills (or lack thereof) freshman year. However, I was still worried about being shunned by my team. My “gay label” didn’t just disappear along with my JV status.
After spending a whole season with the guys, I realized they didn’t care if I was gay or not. They certainly knew, but they didn’t care. All they cared about was that I could win matches for our team. At the end of the season, I thought about how little my life was really affected by being gay. It should be like that, in my opinion, because gay is just one of the many things I am. It would be rather silly of me to let one label define and constrict me. There is one label that I willingly accept – human. I am a human being, above all. At tennis clinics, I am an athlete. At my easel I am an artist. At the piano I am a musician. During all these activities, I am constantly a human. That is the only attribute that transcends across every moment and action of my life.
Here is David’s email so that you can drop him a line: firstname.lastname@example.org