Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Letter: On Being Gay in a Filipino-Chinese Family

Dear L,

As early as 15 years old, I knew I am a lesbian. But, I kept quiet then about it because I come from a very traditional Filipino-Chinese family.

We are so traditional that my father threatened to disown my brother when he dated a Filipina. 

He said, you will not receive a single cent from me if you choose that woman.  I saw my mother crying as she was begging him to end their relationship.

Given the chaos and emotional stress my brother, their only son, gave them, I didn't want to add to their burden during that time. 

My brother and his girlfriend fought for their relationship for 5 years while I patiently stayed in the closet.
Perhaps, he got tired or maybe he just became practical but my brother ended his relationship with his Filipina girlfriend and married another Fil-Chi, less than a year after the break-up. It was all so fast and I don't know how they managed to organize such a big wedding with around 1000 guests.  

My parents were beaming with pride.

A year after the wedding, my brother and his wife had a beautiful baby boy. 

Everyone was happy.

 I figured, it was the perfect time to come out and tell my family that I'm gay. 

I have already graduated and I was doing well in my first job.

I was wrong.

My mom cried. My dad was stunned and walked out of the room.

The following week, my sister-in-law and my mom asked me out for coffee. When we arrived at the coffee shop, I was surprised that there was a boy waiting for me. He was around 26 years old. 

So...apparently that coffee date was my first kaishao.

That night when we came home, mama kept asking me if I liked my date. I said, "Ma, I'm lesbian." She told me that it's just a phase and if I meet the right guy, I will change.

I didn't argue.

They attempted to introduce me to more boys. I always found an excuse not to go. 

After a year of trying, my mom spoke to me. She told me that I need to get married because I need someone to take care and provide for me. Our business will only go to my brother. I told mama that it's okay, I have a job.  She started crying again so that conversation went nowhere.

Back then I was really resentful because I felt  they just wanted to save face. I wasn't too convinced that they were  genuinely and selflessly concerned about my future.

I dated in secret, mostly I found my dates online because no one in my "Real" world wanted to acknowledge that I am gay.  

At every birthday and wedding, my relatives asked me "O Meron na ba?". I politely turned down every offer to introduce me to some Fil-Chi boy. Pero may nakakalusot. I'd get invited for dinner and when I get there, trick pala un

Eventually I found someone at work. We just got developed. I can't explain how it happened. 

My girlfriend only dated guys before me. I don't know but something just clicked  between us. Perhaps, it was the all the late nights we spent working in the office.

After a year of dating, I tried to introduce her to my parents but they refuse to even let me finish my invitation.

I talked to my mom and told her na pagod na ako. I can't change. This is me. 

Mama cried and said,  "You know our only wish is that when we are gone, you will have a family of your own. That you will not be alone when you are old."

I tried to convince her that I won't be alone and adoption is always an options but she couldn't process it.

I saw the sadness and pain in her eyes. I felt guilty. 

But this is me...I can't change myself. 

So now, I decided to just keep this part of my life private. I'm still in a relationship with my girlfriend. Her parents are also in denial. It's such one big mess. 

I'm not sure how this will end. But, I'm really sure that I can't be straight just to make my parents happy. I really can't 


Note: Thanks Y for your letter. Thank you to all those who sent their letters too.


  1. Can I give my unsolicited $0.02? Y needs to believe in herself. She can't persuade even her own friends to accept her sexual orientation. If she can't make people who chose to be friends with her and she chose to be friends with, who I assume are around the same age as she is, who share similar interests and values as she does, then how can she expect her parents to accept her sexuality? Also if Y does the whole keeping quiet/not arguing strategy how will her parents understand? (Or her friends for that matter!) Y needs to engage her parents and explain herself and what being a lesbian means. It's going to be painful. There will be lots of disappointments and judgmental accusations. It's going to be a very long process. It might not work in the end. But family AND being true to yourself are worth the pain. Having a supportive girlfriend will help. Much support from, a random stranger on the internet

    1. I hope she reads this. Took me forever to post her letter. I actually haven't responded with an advice

    2. Hi, L. Can you also post letters about filchi gay guy? Thanks!

    3. Napaka ikli e. Parang pang comment. This one I posted is the most comprehensive and well constructed. I just literally clicked copy paste.

    4. I enjoy giving unsolicited advice. I feel like all the insights I've gained are being put to use. What would your advice be?

    5. To do whatever makes her happy. Some people are happy when others (i.e. Parents, friends, society) are happy...even at the expense of their own happiness.

      Some people pursue their own happiness regardless of how it affects others.

      Who am I to judge?

      So whatever makes her sleep soundly at night, that's what she should do.

    6. Good point. What does Y really want? What's her end goal? Sounds like Y is fairly young, below 25, so life is still open.