“I’m gay! You happy?”
I remember it was the 23rd on the Lunar calendar, the Day of the Kitchen Gods, I came home to the sound of loud fighting and broken glass. My father had asked me to bring him a bowl of chè, but I had forgotten and went out to run errands. My sister-in-law gave him another bowl but by then he had already lost his appetite and was too upset to eat. My father is difficult, and I was young then, just graduated. Aside from us two, there were 7 other people in the house, I was fighting with him for a while. Then, I got frustrated and screamed, “I’m gay! You happy?”
My mom burst into tears at that moment, partly because I was fighting with my father, partly because I came out as gay. We held each other and cried, then my brother and cousin were crying, too. Then, no one said a word to each other, and we all went to our rooms. That night, my younger cousin sent me a text that read: “No matter what, I am on your side, please don’t be sad.” My older brother also messaged me saying: “It’s alright, let’s see where things go.” After that, no one talked about this incident, all I spoke about to my parents were everyday things. I never mentioned being gay again.
Three days later, my aunt asked me to come over. She told me that my parents had told her everything that happened the other day. She said my father was so sad that he even cried and told her: “I don’t know if he’ll be able to have a family like everyone else.” Her daughter, my cousin, was one of the people I trusted the most, and we were very close. She said that she felt guilty for not knowing I was gay despite being friends with me since childhood. She reflected on all the times my family joked around about that issue and figured I would’ve felt really bad. Her family was the first people to accept my true self, but she also told the family to hold off this issue until after Lunar New Year celebrations, since a silent household wouldn’t feel right.
That’s my coming-out story. As my friends said, I was only looking for an excuse, a moment to tell my family. Before that, I already came out to all my friends from high school, college, and even my gym buddies. I felt more trusted and loved by the people around me when I started living truthfully. So the place I wanted to come out the most was my own home because I figured family shouldn’t hide anything from each other. Some days, I would secretly turn on LGBT programs for my parents and was always met with positive inquiries like “what is gay?” and no negative remarks on the community.
When I first came out, it wasn’t easy for everyone to accept it. Some of my aunts didn’t quite understand or accept me; they even messaged me on Facebook saying it would be better for me to have a girlfriend. My parents didn’t say much on the issue but they immediately stopped harassing me about having a girlfriend from that night on.
Since that incident, it’s been two and a half years, but my family had never gotten together to talk about it. But I can still feel a shift in my family. I owe a lot of it to my aunt who managed to convince everyone else. The one aunt who used to tell me to get a girlfriend now introduces me to LGBT shows on TV. She even told my mom that “there are people like your son in these programs, and they still have a decent life, a good life.” Sometimes, I would have a boyfriend over and my mom would tell me to introduce him to the family and not make him stand outside. I feel like since coming out, I’m much closer to everyone else in my family, I can freely express myself without any fear of judgment. I feel lucky to be born into a loving and accepting family.
Rồi Sẽ Ổn Thôi (“Gonna Be Alright”) is a project that collects coming out stories from the LGBTIQ+ community and their loved ones in Việt Nam. To find out more details or to read more stories from the project, please visit our official social media site on Instagram at ComingOutVN.