Happy Gay 11th Birthday to Me!

On January 30, 2006, I came out! It's been awhile since I was 7 or 8 that I knew I was gay in Yangon, Myanmar. I had a crush on a boy in his early teens, who lived down a few houses from my home. He had a fancy BMX bike and performed tricks he knew how with his friends. His name was Myat Ko Ko. After I had the nerve to introduce myself and tried making friends, I went inside, and informed my parents of the wonderful news. Making friends was difficult for me. Even as an adult, I believe and value of the friendship principle of "less is more."

A graphic for "National Coming Out Day" by Keith Haring.

On entering the house, I saw my parents enjoying their dinner and I told them, "I like someone" [in Burmese]. My dad asked, "Who?" As soon as he heard "Myat Ko Ko," [male name in Burmese]—similar to how male names in English are distinguishable from female names—my Dad got upset and corrected me immediately that "boys aren't supposed to like boys." As long as I remembered, I kept this incident hidden in the back of my mind and pretended it never occurred. I avoided going outside to play, when I could see Myat Ko Ko and his friends are riding their BMX bikes outside, passing my house.

Growing up in my teen years in California was not as smooth; I remember having to "hide" my attraction to boys my age in PE class. In the early 1990s, public schools in the area required students to shower after their PE class. I didn't sweat and I was glad my evolving body didn't produce any body odor! When the room monitor isn't watching, I would take off everything except my underwear, wrap my towel around, and dashed safely to the showers. I strategically picked the locker closest to the showers. The showers had a huge metal, stall-like wall that served as a barrier to prevent the water from hitting the lockers. I would expose only my head underneath the waters and allow the waters to drip over my body—making it look like I had showered.

Fast forward to January 30, 2006, I finally realized I could no longer run away from the truth. I came out to the song by Tiesto and Kirsty Hawkshaw called "Just Be." There was a funny joke with myself: how gay was I, such that I came out to an EDM song?! The coming out process gave me the courage to follow after my dreams of being a photographer. Although I'm not living in luxury, I'm happy with the decision I've made years ago. I live within my means and curb my mind from craving anything I don't need.

Categories: Personal

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