Today, more and more people have started to question themselves about their sexuality as access to information on the internet has become easier, especially with the use of social media. There is an abundance of information that you can read up on about any topic that will interest you or you’re curious about. However, those articles that you read on the Internet are often vague, specifically those concerning the LGBTQ+ community. Yes, there are tons of references that you can use to learn about the community, but if you would like to gain true perspective to a person’s own journey into their self-acceptance of who they are, the summary of this interview may be the thing for you.
(For some background information, the interviewee is 21 years old, goes by the pronouns she/they, has recently graduated university and is based in The Netherlands. Other people in the story are referred to as their respective pronouns, including another person referred to as “they”.)
Waking up at 07:00 am in the 7th grade in the Philippines was just another school day for her. She goes through her usual routine of getting prepared for school and volleyball. Finally leaving her house, she walks to school, sometimes running into her neighbor, who is two grade levels her senior. When her neighbour does appear, they always ask her, “How are you doing? Ready for volleyball today?”
She always replied, “Tired, but ready for volleyball.”
They don’t say anything after that and continue to walk comfortably to school. Once they reach the campus, they separate ways and go to their first class. Going through the motions of their usual day, she can’t help but be excited to train for the volleyball varsity team. Her neighbor, being the setter of the team, and herself, being the understudy, spend more time together.
That’s when they started giving hints of interest to her.
But her being herself, she was aloof and oblivious to any and all flirtations intended for her. She just thought that they were being friendly towards her. Days go by and she finds out that the setter was interested in both males and females. They keep in contact and continue to have friendly encounters throughout the school year.
A year later, when she’s in 8th grade and back training for the volleyball varsity team, she decides to explore the person’s interest with her. So, she nervously attempts to flirt with the setter to see if they are still interested in her. They were surprised to know that she was interested considering how she was closed-off about herself.
Weeks pass by and classes and training continue and they continue getting to know each other more and more, when a friend of hers asks her to watch a movie together in one of their houses. She asks if she could bring her neighbor along because they were acquaintances, living near each other. The friend agrees and all three of them watch at her friend’s house. Throughout the movie, her neighbor puts their arm over her shoulders, and they whisper about everything and flirt with each other while the friend is focused on the movie.
After the movie, she and her neighbor decide to go for a walk at night, during which they hold hands and she goes to question them about their sexuality and if they are still with their girlfriend, which she found out about last year. They avoided the question about their girlfriend but answered about their dating life. She is curious and wants to know more about their relationship but doesn’t push further, thinking they were uncomfortable about it. Both of them continue to walk in comfortable silence.
Before they arrive at their houses, they ask, “Can I kiss you?”
She is hesitant and nervous because she has never experienced that before. She wants to but she is very alarmed by their avoidance of the question about the girlfriend. The girlfriend, she knows and met during one of their volleyball competitions, is from another school. She didn’t want to stir up any trouble so she reiterates the question.
“Are you still with [girlfriend’s name]?”
They don’t answer. So, she pulls her hand away and takes a step back.
“I can’t do that to her, we have to call this all off,” she quickly states.
They reply, “I can break up with her, for you. We can’t see each other anyway.”
She’s taken aback at what they said. “No, that’s still wrong. We can’t go through this anymore. It’s just not right to her and to whatever we are,” she replies.
“Don’t tell anyone about us,” she adds.
They’re disappointed but they agree. They try to hug her one last time and convince her to keep what they have going. But she ultimately decides to walk away. That’s when she decides to stay away from her neighbor and explore her feelings with some other person.
That’s the first instance where the interviewee decides to continue to be in the closet and not create any rumors about her sexuality. She doesn’t want her family and the school society to be disappointed as they are religious. Being a Roman Catholic herself, she knows that the culture and traditions of the religion, as well as the society, is conservative. She thinks that her mother and her very religious relatives will not appreciate her not being the ‘perfect’ Catholic daughter.
A couple of months passed by when the next instance happened. She ended up finding herself in a relationship of nearly 3 years with a person who was in the same batch as her neighbor. This relationship started off as friendship in the 7th grade, but only progressed to a relationship after her decision to trust the person and explore how she feels about them. Although the length of the relationship was long, it ended in accord on a different set of issues. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and other negative emotions, she decides to take the time to find out who really is without anyone else influencing her.
For over a year, she feels happier being single because it helps her reconnect with friends, who she lost connections with due to her previous relationship. She hesitantly accepts that she can’t control who she likes, making her perspective clear and change on each person she interacts with. Having a clearer conscience, a sudden wave of new feelings for multiple people came onto her, but she knew she couldn’t act on most of them because no one knew of her sexuality. She believes that it would put her in a new light in society and the culture if people find out.
Eventually, she lets her worries wash away and lets fate decide that whatever happens, happens. It leads her to a mutual understanding with a person in her batch that she continues until the summer, after their graduation.
Months before her graduation, however, she feels comfortable and safe enough to casually bring the topic of her sexuality to her closest friends first, at her friend’s house. After coming out, she feels a bit of relief as her friends give her positive comments, saying that they already had hints before and were just waiting for her to tell them. She laughs and they continue as if nothing unusual happened.
Presently, she is currently located in The Netherlands and fully out of the closet to her parents and friends. It did take her a few years to accept that she likes multiple genders and a couple more years to finally be open and casual about the topic.
The current environment that she’s in, helped her confidently and fully accept herself. The Netherlands is open and expressive about the LGBTQ+ community as compared to the Philippines. Throughout her university years, she met people who are comfortable about themselves and people who are experiencing similar issues as her, creating a safer and more secure environment for her to proudly come out.
There is no conclusion to this story as her journey is still on-going and is still in its beginning stages. She would, however, like to pass on these lessons that she learned to the readers and those who are experiencing similar troubles as she did in the previous years.
“Safety is priority. You have to be comfortable. You have to be prepared to be disappointed if they don’t accept you for who you are. Prepare yourself emotionally. Make sure that they don’t physically hurt you.”
“Take your time! Explore what you feel. Explore your options.”
“It’s a long process and it’s going to be difficult because it’s hard to find people who will accept, explore with you and support you. But remember to take your time and make sure that you’re comfortable in your own skin or else it’s not going to work.”
“Feel what you feel and don’t let other people influence what you feel towards a person. Try to not be afraid of feeling and afraid of being different. Feel what you actually feel about that person without their influence.”
“Love for someone and love from someone, starts from self-acceptance.”
As RuPaul once said, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Note: The interviewee’s name and other personal information are kept anonymous for confidentiality purposes.
For the readers who are still reading up until this point, thank you for reading and I hope that this article truly helps you and gives you an insight on a person’s journey to self-acceptance. Remember, everyone starts from somewhere. There is no rush.