June is pride month, and major cities are hosting their own pride parades. In my own little circle, friends are planning on going. Some of them invited me, but I turned them down. This is the second time I have not joined Pride. I want to go to Pride when I am fully out of the closet. Right now, I am half inside and half out of the fabled closet. I have been living a double life in the past few years. My friends and co-workers know that I am a lesbian. However, within my family, only one person knows about my preference. People I dated we represented as close friends, or not mentioned at all. Worst of all, I never spoke of friends who were more visibly LGBTQ+ for fear of being associated. Outside, I’m open about my relationships. I have met people who are also part of the community. We make jokes about being gay. Last year for my birthday, a couple of friends gave me a tote bag that had a drawing of two women making love. It was beautiful, and I loved it the moment I saw it. I posted a picture of it on social media and showed it to other friends who I thought would appreciate it as well. I used the bag the very next day. I trotted it around daily for months.
However, as soon as I get home, before I open the door, I turn the bag around so that the design is hidden. When I put it down, I make sure that the design is facing the wall. For a while, my parents only saw the blank side of the tote bag. It took a long time for me to finally let the design show.I realize now that the tote bag is a great metaphor for how I have been living my life. Outside, I’m proudly LGBTQ+. I have even written about it. But as soon as I’m around my family, I show my otherside—the side that I feel they approve of.I know I’m not necessarily a different person for being a lesbian. Being a lesbian is not an alternative persona, it is just one aspect of my humanity. I’m still the same introverted daughter my parents have always known. But I can’t help but feel like I’m lying to them. In the most optimistic perspective, I’m robbing them of the opportunity to get to know people who are special to me—friend sand partners alike. At the same time, I feel like a hypocrite for saying I’m proud of being LGBTQ+ but not being able to tell my family about it.I’m torn between coming out or laying low for now. It’s because I am not quite ready to face the possible consequences. Conversations with my family have already hinted at a negative attitude towards the LGBTQ+.
It’s easy to say that I should cut ties with people who don’t accept me for who I am, even if it’s my family. That I should be unashamed and unapologetic about being a lesbian. I can’t help but think that these are very individualistic sentiments—and this is coming from a rather liberal person. These sentiments go directly against the values that were instilled in me. Growing up, I have always valued my family, especially since I have a strong relationship with them. It’s not that I can’t live without my family, rather I don’t want to have to cut ties with them, should it come to that. For now, before I officially come out, I’m ardently trying to change their outlook about the LGBTQ+ community. I am in a middle ground. I’m not actively hiding my sexuality from my family; however, I haven’t yet explicitly told them about it. This situation allows me to be free. Even though it doesn’t reflect the pride that we celebrate this month, it’s a compromise that lets me be myself while I wait for the right time to come out. I sometimes feel envious of those who have come out, but I try to keep in mind that everyone has different situations. Everyone progresses in their own paces. Coming out stories are not always either complete rejection or total acceptance, some are grayer than others. Mine may be a little grayer and slower, not everyone may understand, but I know that I will soon be able to attend Pride freely.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.