Welcome to day four of our ten day feature – Everybody has a Story.
Our forth entry come from Hawaiian born Jordan. Here’s his story…
(For the purposes of this interview, Jordan wished to remain anonymous)
- Firstly, how old are you and what do you do for a living?
I am 34 and currently a fellow physician in training in LA. I have been living here for two and a half years now, and it’s definitely grown on me.
- Please can you give us a brief background about your life? (Where you are from? Upbringing? Views on homosexuality when growing up?)
Born and raised in Hawaii, grew up with extended family and ohana (meaning extended family, not just by blood ), spent a lot of time at the beach and getting my feet dirty and wet. Life seemed a lot simpler back in the day. I was raised by my parents and grandparents, a blend of traditional Chinese and also Hawaiian values. Strict on one end of the spectrum, relaxed and lots of aloha on the other end.
My parents also divorced when I was 5, so I grew apart from my father, and my mom eventually remarried. Although the topic of being gay or gay people was rather taboo growing up in the 80’s, it didn’t seem so bad since I had two already out and proud older gay cousins. Yet it wasn’t easy for me at first to identify as gay and come out, given pressure and this preconceived notion that I shouldn’t be gay growing up.
- When did you realize you were gay?
I first realized I was gay when I started to have more than just friendly feelings for my intermediate and high school classmates. More than just friends. I actually cared and wanted to be with them always. I thought perhaps it was just a phase or some teenage confusion. I also knew when I came across some x-rated films and I realized I was more fascinated by the male actors than the females.
- When and how did you come out?
I consider myself a late bloomer when I compare myself to other gays, and especially to younger generations now. I always had the pressure of “becoming successful and marrying a good girl” on my shoulders, particularly from my traditional Chinese family side. Messed around with some guys around my age, when I was younger but considered it all kind of curiosity and just an experimental phase.
I knew for sure that I liked boys while in college, so started to come out in phases then. I reached out to old friends in high school who were gay, they invited me in their circle. I started to fall in love with one of their friends. That’s when I knew I shouldn’t be ashamed any more. So I started to tell family and friends in smaller intimate settings. First my gay cousins, then my brother, then my parents. Mom was in disbelief at first but slowly came to terms. Majority of my friends and family were accepting. Some had a feeling. Some had no idea. Eventually most of my traditional Chinese side found out too and was okay with it, except for my grandmother, out of respect. But perhaps one of my regrets was not having told her.
- Have you ever experienced any discrimination due to your sexuality?
Not really. Although I was made fun of being gay in school, I denied it at first until I felt comfortable with my sexuality in the later part of college. Never was discriminated though. But now, in this day and age, sexual orientation discrimination or any form is largely frowned upon. I embrace my homosexuality and am proud now, but I also know how to adapt to various social situations. Being gay isn’t the driving force or face of my persona, it is merely one flavour or layer of me. Sometimes I have to gently correct new people I meet that I’m sorry but not interested in girls, or that I lived with my boyfriend. Most are totally cool with it. I’ve found that being true to oneself allows you to open yourself up to others, who then connect with you even stronger.
- If you could give your younger self, or anyone else currently struggling with their sexuality what (if any) advice could you give them?
Be strong. Be true. Be happy. Even if others have different expectations of you… Do whatever makes you happy and first and foremost, love yourself before you love others. That is the only true way to be real and open up to others. Know that this road isn’t always glitter and gold, or a straightforward easy path, but know that you’re not the only one on this road.
You don’t have to walk this path alone. Reach out to friends, to family, to classmates, even to social media. Everybody’s story is a little different, and you can learn from many of them. And in today’s modern age of technology and social media, a few words of caution: not everything on social media is as it appears; life isn’t always a hashtag or filtered happiness; life has struggles and hardships too. But you have to pick yourself up and keep on trucking.
Also on that note, don’t get lost in hookup or gay apps–it may be one way to talk with others, but be cautious of their motives. And remember to always play safe.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jordan for his help with this project and for his frank honesty.
Jordan has chosen to remain anonymous, however we wish him all the best in the future!