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11 August 2010, 4:00 pm 4 Comments

DisOrienting Encounters: The Obedient Son

This post was submitted by Cyrus

I like my family. My family did the best job they knew how to do. My parents rose my older brother and I on visits to KFC and McDonalds and called them family restaurants. Back then, love was when we sat down with the Sunday morning paper and clipped out coupons while watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the background. And I remember I was a bad ass kid. I was chased by my mom with a hot wheel tracks firmly in her hand or a pair of slippers and beat the hell out of me when I acted out. So I learned to act right. I acted right for my mom because she beamed of happiness when I received Student of the Month in my elementary school. I loved the smile on my dad face when I made honor roll every year in middle school. I never had aunts or uncles growing up so all we had was ourselves. Just the four of us. When I grew older, I continued to act right. Then shortly after middle school, I fell for my first crush , I couldn’t act right any longer.

Family remains very central in Asian -American culture, as does any culture for that matter. Its what we go home to and relate ourselves with the outside world. But this deep connection with family and the process of homosexuality identity formation for young Asian-American queers also serves as a source of anxiety and stress which grows increasingly difficult overtime.

Family life was never as rosy as American television portrayed. My dad worked incredibly hard working doubles almost reflexively. My mother adopted the triple day by balancing home, work and raising two kids and my brother and I did our best in school. Well, I did at least. My parents always wanted at least one college graduate in the family and with my brother maintaining a barely appreciable GPA that allowed him to graduate, he did not pursue college as my parent had hoped. The duty was  onto me.

I got the good grades, president of this, founder of that and honors student yadda yadda yadda. But my attraction to men grew only stronger and fonder. Freshman year ended and I came to the realization that I liked penis. I came out to my friends and I had my share of boys in high school, the staple of every horny queer boy I suppose, and  it continued for me without a hitch. Yet my parents knew deep down inside, I wasn’t going to bring a girl home. If my Senior year was any indication, the fact that I joined an All Female team in JROTC was the red sequined thong they were looking for. But I never told them. This is where being queer and Asian, in my opinion, is unique because even though I came out to my social group of friends and myself, in the Western gay and lesbian community such actions are the final steps of revelation that one is a homosexual. Whereas being queer and Asian, you integrate culturally being queer without disrupting the status quo.

This is not staying in the closet per se rather coming out was alluding to your sexuality in a subtle way that will not disrupt the parents wishes and family life. Still to this very day, I have never brought a girl home or never once announced anything any form of attraction to a woman and I am in my mid twenties. Sure, they know I am gay because I did tell them later on in life but I still find it a battle to even tell my dad “he’s very handsome” whenever we watch basketball or to share with my mom a common attraction to the same movie star.

The need to maintain the peaceful family life and a tranquil home was something my parents strived because since they were gone most of the time,the least we could do for each other was keep each other happy with good news. The least I could do for them was preserve their happiness while mask and sacrifice my own for theirs.

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  • DC said:

    Sorry to sound like a bitch but did anyone edit this article at all before it was posted? The first paragraph alone is riddled with grammatical errors.

  • michael said:

    so did you eventually go to college? i wasn’t clear about that in your article.

  • Cyrus (author) said:

    Yeah I eventually graduated college, the first in my family. I guess I did leave a very important strand unfinished in my narrative.

  • Toltendo said:

    As a Filipino who recently came out at the age of 20, now in college, I can relate to you. I do regard family as an important aspect of my life, the problem is that our family has somewhat grown apart after the death of my mom’s mother. My mom has a family of about 6 brothers and 7 sisters, I believe, but there are relatives and all that. Before that, our family got pretty along together, but now my mom and some of her sisters grow bitter to each other, but she’s alright with her other brothers/sisters.

    So far, a couple of my young cousins, family friends, and my mom knows of my homosexuality, but I still worry about my relatives in the Philippines thinking down on me about me being gay.