Dear Nanay/Tatay/Mom/Dad/Ma/Pa (choose one or two),
I know it’s been a while since we last talked, and I know you’ve noticed that I haven’t been myself. It’s true, and sometimes I just don’t know how to keep lugging around this weight with me not knowing what will happen if I share it with someone, or at least ask for help in carrying the load.
So I’m writing you a letter, because it’s been so hard to say it all in one shot without breaking down and crying, or getting into a fight with you, or being so terrified of your reaction that I’ll just change my mind and pretend nothing’s wrong, and that my feelings can wait, or maybe I can still change so I don’t have to deal with having to tell you.
I’m gay. I’ve been gay for a while now and I’ve known I was different since I was small. Please know that I wouldn’t be coming to you now with this information if there were other options, so please don’t ask me if I’m sure or if I think I can still change my mind.
I was born this way
Please don’t ask me to try dating the opposite sex, because I have tried, or at least considered it and rejected it as much as you would reject the suggestion of dating the same sex. I know that sometimes same-sex crushes can be a phase for some, and if that were the case with me I’d tell you (or wouldn’t have to tell you) that it’s just a meaningless crush.
But this is not a phase. It’s part of who I am and who I’m going to be. I can only love another (girl/boy), and I am so scared that you’ll hate me. So many people around me already do. I’ve been teased enough and heard so many hurtful things about being gay long before I realized I actually was, and long before I decided to tell you. I was hoping that unlike the rest of the world, you wouldn’t hate me too. I hope that I’m not wrong.
I’m so scared you’ll also tell me that the world will not like me, and that our religion will shun me, or that I will end up alone. I’ve already heard all of that before but hoped that someone who loves me would never say those things. I’m afraid you’ll blame yourself and tell me it was because of (too many/not enough) days playing sports, spending too much time with (insert gay relative/friend here), or that it has anything to do with how you raised me. It doesn’t.
I was born this way, and it’s not your fault. It’s not even a fault, because I am most happy when I’m free to be myself and can be open about being gay. I know that it’s not what you intended for me, and that you probably don’t understand what I’m telling you right now and what it means. But the only thing I ask is that you understand me, being your child, and that you won’t reject me.
I am happy
I’ve thought about it a million times and played all the scenarios in my head. You know sometimes when I am quiet and you ask me what I am thinking or what is wrong? That’s me playing out my options. I know that the easiest route to avoid all of this would be to keep my secret to myself so I don’t rock our boat.
I could take all the steps you expect of me and find an opposite-sex spouse, marry and have a family. I know that would make you happy. But your happiness at that lie would crush me. I’m sorry if I believe that you don’t want to crush my heart and soul by following what you want for me. I’m sorry if it turns out that your happiness would be affected if I decided to pursue mine.
I know that you will be worried about me and what my future will be. I know that you might think that gay people cannot marry and have families. But we do have those options, and I don’t want you to be worried. I only want you to understand that the person I will love and who will take care of me might not be the picture you have in your mind.
You have raised me so well, and have given me so many opportunities. What I have told you right now does not change my prospects for happiness, for a good career, or for a happy home life. In fact, I can’t wait to share my happiness with you.
Please know that I’ve been thinking about telling you for a long time, and I didn’t have to tell you now, or at all. But I don’t know, maybe something in me is saying that you’ll love me no matter what, just like you’ve always said that I could choose any ambition, career, or hobby that makes me happy.
You’ve always taught me to be truthful, to be honest with myself and with others, so I hope you know that I can only be happy being true to myself. Maybe it’s naive for me to hope that I could share my happiness with you when I find the one for me, or that you will accept me as I am, as well as the family that I hope to have one day.
I hope that you will still love me and respect me the way you always have, the way you’ve embraced me and the person I’ve become, the way you have loved everything about me before everything I’ve told you today.
I love you, and it’s taken all my strength to take the biggest risk of my life by asking you today to love me too. All of me, the way I love all of you.
Shakira Andrea Sison is a Palanca Award-winning essayist. She currently works in finance and spends her off-hours writing love letters in subway trains. She is a veterinarian by education and was managing a retail corporation in Manila before relocating to New York in 2002. Follow her on Twitter: @shakirasison and on Facebook.com/sisonshakira.