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From Nay to Slay: A realistic tale of self-acceptance

First of all, let’s get this straight, I’m not.

Questions may arise: “Wait, but how do you know?”; “Like you just woke up one morning and decided you’re gay?”. Well, technically not, for me to come to the fact that I am gay and fully embrace it, is quite a journey.

Phase 1: Nay - Being unfazed and thought that it was “just a phase”

Just a phase” is a buzzword that may sound familiar to the LGBTQIA+ folks out there, a word that carries so much stigma in it. I first came across this word when I was an 8th grader, having the faintest idea about anything, let alone complicated topics like sexuality. I found myself immersed in reading about homosexual relationships in novels and fanfics, spending hours on end just to finish a series of fanfiction on the famous Wattpad App. Things were going well, I was having such an amazing time with my fictional world. However, it totally shifted on a young morning of an 8th grader.

Scrolling on Wattpad wore out my sight at lightning speed. So as a grown 13-year-old, I was searching on Google, intending to search “Am I short-sighted?” in the hope of finding some answers to my worsening eye situation. After the “Am I...”, I saw something that caught my eye first: “Am I  gay?

At first, it was mere curiosity. I know what being gay means upon reading fanfics for much longer than 180 minutes per day. But then, it turned into some of the first existential crises I have had. After doing mountains of quizzes, I remembered pressing into a Reddit link that led me to some threads that said, and I quote (Tho not 100% correct because that was 8 years ago) “Being gay is just a phase, you will get over it”. Yes, you guessed it, in the mind of a naive 8th grader, I fully, and wholeheartedly believed in this ridiculous buzzword.

Phase 2: Nay x2 - Being baffled by the harsh reality

Fast forward about six months, and I thought that “phase” really came to a grand wrap after the end of my first lesbian relationship.

“It was indeed a phase” - I thought to myself, carrying the guilt from the first relationship, carrying the wary eyes that people look at us as a lesbian couple, carrying the judgments from my peers when they figured I was having a girlfriend. At that time, the concept of sexuality still was not present, but the daunting effects of the first ever relationship followed me in the next 2 years.

For the next two years, I kept up my firm beliefs in that specific Reddit thread, that being gay is just a brief phase in my life. Just like a competition, after learning and understanding the subject, you will end your competition journey upon hearing the announcement of the prize, and that is it. What is even more daunting is that, upon understanding a lesbian relationship through the lens of my first love, I felt like I was not cut out for it at all. Oh, and one thing I had to admit, being gay for me at that time, only confines to reading about it on Wattpad, and so, I thought that being gay was only loving a person with the same sex as yours, that is it. Until my perception switched.

Phase 3: Yay - Start of another “phase”

Getting into high school was a new experience for me, as I was entering an environment with so much novelty and so many new faces. One girl particularly caught my attention: sharp, clean moves, an attractive smile, and a sunshine personality.

“Okay, she is now my idol in high school.”

Months passed by, until one day I had a chance to work on one of the school’s projects with her. Working alongside your idol, sweet! Until I realized, I did not just adore her as an idol.

Sparks, butterflies, feelings. I felt overwhelmed by how attracted I was to an individual, I thought that phase in my life had come to an end. That was when I was unsure, shaken, and so insecure. Millions of what-ifs ran across my head: “What if I am hurt again?”; “What if I am just imagining that I like her?”; “What if I am not gay?”; “What if she is not gay?”

Memories crept up on me, bittersweet and nostalgic. Two years ago, I was the one who felt so sure about my identity, so sure about the path I will take and the people I will like. I was the one who said that my “gay phase” had ended. So why am I ending up here? Who am I? What is my identity?

“But l like her.”

“Then go for it” - said my best friend.

With that, I did, still bearing the weight of that buzzing Reddit Thread, but I went for it, and the rest is history.

My favorite quote from my favorite queer novel: “Red, White and Royal Blue” 

Phase 4: Yay? Nay? - Be gay? In this economy?

We were blessed to be in a school where a homosexual relationship is welcomed by students, and everyone fostered an equal ground where students can freely express themselves. I then started to embrace my own identity, listening to my true calling. I cut my long, black hair short in 11th grade and bought myself checkered shirts to completely change my style. Never once did I doubt that change, I bloomed with confidence and pride wherever I went. Blessed with a good relationship with my first high-school crush and being supported by the best peers I had, things had been going quite too well until…

“Hey, do not buy this vest, it makes you look too masculine, here, buy this dress!” - said my parents when we were going out, shopping for clothes.

“But I like to dress masculine, this is my style.” - I replied, sounding like a rebellious teenager.

“Choose to be a boy or a girl, don’t just dress like a boy if you are not one, it is not normal.

The sentence struck me as a train wreck. Being indulged in a “too good to be true” present makes me forget about the stigma surrounding homosexuality deeply embedded in Asian parents. I was dumbfounded.

Our time meeting each other was reduced, and every line of text needed to be delivered with discretion, as I was afraid that a slip would position me as “abnormal” in the eyes of my parents. With that, I was once against feeling so obscure about my identity and how I could keep embracing it amid the adversity from my parents.

Phase 5: Slay - The quintessence of self-acceptance

The effects those words have on me still resound to this very day; however, I have found my way to cope.

Sleepless nights of deep introspection, days of researching the community that I am in, and hours of cultivating my pride in showing my own colors. I can finally say, after 4 years of self-discovery, that I am proudly, and loudly, gay.

Deeper research into the community helped me to better understand myself and others and allowed me to discover so many more amazing colors in the spectrum that are glistening in pride. A deeper understanding handed me the confidence to break the judgment of my seniors about our community and encouraged me to stand strong among the adversities coming our way.

This piece of sharing is a surreal moment in my self-acceptance journey, sitting here and sharing my personal experience about sexuality, and self-discovery is the analogy to saying: “You are who you want to be now. Be gay, be slayin', and be iconic”, and I am so proud that I’ve got to the destination of my journey here at VinUni. Here, I am blessed with an amazing community, to be surrounded by supportive individuals with distinct colors. I was in a state of obscurity, but being in this environment grounded me in my beliefs of building a slay community at our institution.

So to all the folks out there who are discovering yourself, you are doing a wonderful job, I believe you will shine with every color that you are. And babes, do not let any random Reddit threads tell you that being gay is just a phase, take slow, but sure steps, toward embracing your identity, and remember to slay every step of the way.




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