For years, I dreaded the day that my mom and the rest of my family would know or discover the real me.
The real gay me.
My case is not unusual. Nor is my family. Like most Filipino gay men, as I grew up and reached the marrying age, I attended family reunions less and less. The reason I was conveniently unavailable during such occasions was I grew sick and tired of being asked “Kailan ka mag-aasawa?” by older relatives. Trust me, I wanted to punch their faces every time they did that. Perhaps it was also my fault because during my “confused years,” I hinted about or brought a “girlfriend” or two to our house.
Years passed and I led an exciting but nonetheless sad “double life.” I worked like hell to achieve a lot in my career to eclipse the fact that at my age, I have yet to be married. I was 28 years old and, having reached the point in my life when rejection and financial independence were the least of my problems, I was ready to come out.
The problem was, my family was no longer in the country. They had all migrated. I could not tell them in person. I was the only one left here. While some sons go abroad to “ladlad,” I remained here, so as to be able to express myself freely.
With my family scheduled to come home from the United States once again, I said to myself: It’s now or never.
It was hard to find a situation to conveniently come out. I took time off from work so I would have all the time in the world. After all, my family would be here for only two weeks.
As days passed, I started to panic. I even texted my friends to ask how I should do it since I was running out of time. “Help me, please! You all know I decided to come out to my mom but until now, I still could not tell her that her freaking eldest son is gay!” I texted them.
They offered solutions, all right. Here were some of their replies:
“Luhod ka, sabay lunok ng bato at isigaw mo ang … DARNAAAAAA!!!!”
“I-send mo yung msg n pinadala mo s akin. Tapos sabhn mo: SORRY MA WRONG SEND!”
At last, the opportunity came. My mom asked me if I would like to invite somebody over for dinner because my brother was bringing along his Philippine-based girlfriend. I immediately said yes.
My mom was poker-faced when my partner walked to our dinner table that night. At one point, I thought my mom was conducting a job interview while she talked to my partner whom I introduced then as my “best friend.”
I thought, that was it, they knew, no need to come out anymore. Boy, was I wrong. My family adopted the “turn-the-other-way-let’s-not-talk-about-it” attitude. There was no way to know if they accepted my being gay, for they remained polite and refused to talk about it in the next few days. Perhaps they were in denial.
A friend of mine, Rossette, said, yes, they probably knew by now after what I did, but for my sake, I must tell my mom verbally and never assume anything.
I was back to square one.
Up until the time I drove my mom to the airport, I still hadn’t talked to her. We even spent over an hour at the airport ticket office because we had to make last-minute changes to her travel arrangements. Still, I was stumped.
At the last possible moment just before she went in, I decided to take a gamble. I hugged her.
“Ma, these past two weeks, thank you for accepting me for who I really am,” I said.
She hugged me tighter as tears fell from her eyes. She told me that she was waiting for this moment for a long time. As a mom, she said, it hurt her to see that I was living a double life. It hurt her even more to see that I was living a lie. She wanted to ask me before but she said she wanted it to come from me, when I was ready.
“Son, I am your mom,” she said. “I would always love you whatever you are. Don’t you ever think otherwise.”
I never felt closer to my mom as I did then. I put my arm over her shoulder and we waited for her luggage to be ready.
With one last hug, she turned away as we bade each other goodbye. Until the day I die, I will never forget the tender way she looked at me from afar as she entered the departures door.
As I was driving home, I received a text message from her. “Can’t call because already inside plane. Turning off my phone after this. I LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY. You take care, pangga.”
I was so happy. I could now live my life as I was meant to. No more fear.
The author is the general manager of Perlas Public Relations.