This essay was delivered during the launch of Baker & Mackenzie Global Services Manila's LGBT+ Circle Allies Program in Taguig on June 23, 2017.
My mom is not a bad person. I’d like to think she’s not. Like most mothers, she did the best she could, with what she had.
But not being a bad person doesn’t mean that one is faultless.
At twenty, when I was struggling to come to terms with my sexual orientation, I came out to my mom. I remember it quite vividly. It was late evening, and she was on her bed, and I entered her room quietly. I asked if we could talk. I was crying back then. It felt like I had failed her with what I was about to admit:
Mom, I’m gay. I can’t change who I am.
She didn’t pause. She told me that it was going to be a sad, difficult life. I couldn’t blame her. Our church made all of us believe that being gay was a sin. I was a sinner not by choice, but because I was born gay. Even I believed that for years. I remember buying a pamphlet at the church bookstore about how homosexuality was from the devil, and I could cure myself by praying hard.
Trust me, I did. At our church’s summer youth camp, I closed my eyes so hard when the pastor asked us to pray our sins away.
I opened my eyes and there I was: still gay.
To be told for years that your life was a sham can be a soul-crushing thing. Moreso, when the person you expect to love you and understand you would tell you that your life was just wrong. The rejection from my mom was a push, and I spiraled further into depression.
Recently, I found myself engaged in a serious talk with someone I've never imagined I would even talk to, had someone given me her profile with bullet points that described who she was.
This girl, an officemate from my consultancy work, was a classic extrovert (although she rabidly claims otherwise), a devout Christian, and against gay rights.
As you know, I am quite the opposite of all those things: I am an agnostic introverted LGBT advocate.
It was a recipe for disaster.
Or at least, that's how it appeared then.
You’re going to make a decision today, like every single day of your life.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.