It's okay... go live and love

I have been out so long to so many people, outing myself now seems frivolous and excessive.

Many years ago, I even went on CNN to ask Mr Lee Kuan Yew about the plight of gay Singaporeans.

I mean, how much proof do you really need?

But typing the words "I am gay" and expecting it to be read by the country made me pause. This seems so finite and there's no turning back.

When Kumar made our front page for coming out, almost everyone came to me to say: "Kumar being gay is news to you?"

Yes, it was hardly a secret.

But he took the step anyway and, typing this, I can imagine how he feels.

This finality is actually scary.

The world has changed. A decade ago, this article would not have seen the light of day.

Today, with gay marriages and civil unions being recognised from Canada to Brazil to New Zealand, and with celebrities coming out so regularly, it is no longer a big deal.

In young liberal minds, it is now just a way of life. If you're straight, great.

If you're gay, okay.

This is the second toughest time I've had with my sexual orientation.

The first was when I decided it was time to come out to my parents.

Like a gay cliche, I'm obsessed with my mum. My mother is capable of culling guilt with just a sigh or self-imposed silence.

So imagine my dilemma.

Had she objected violently, I would have had to get a bride just to appease her.

But the anticipated drama fizzled out.

We had that coming-out talk exactly once.

Once I stated the obvious, the topic never came up again.

That night, my mother asked if my boyfriend Terence would take care of me.

Would he leave me when I'm old?

My father was really calm.

He just wanted to know when I was going to buy food for our dog.

I think years of living my life openly but never saying anything prepared my parents for that moment.

After that conversation, I waited.

Like many old Chinese folks, my parents are not expressive. It's in the nuances.

Nothing changed: The nagging continued about my room, my weight, my dog and myriad topics too mundane to recall.

A Cantonese woman loves you with food.

When she started setting aside soup and food for Terence, I knew he was in.

When she cooks a corn soup - which I'm lukewarm about - because "Terence likes corn", he was finally family.

And when she pulls him aside to nag about me, and when he agrees with her and I end up with stereo nagging, I momentarily wish they weren't so close.

Terence is involved in birthdays, Mother's Days, reunion dinners and family gatherings.

It's the same on his side.

His cousins knew about us, then his aunt and eventually all his aunts.

Finally he told his mother.

Our lives merged and it's an endless cycle of family meals and parties.

We don't need an invitation to be there any more because it is expected.

I went on Twitter and Facebook to get my friends to share their experience of coming out.

One replied: "Today still need to come out meh? I thought these days people just walk into it?"

Well, it seems that coming out is still hard for some. The overwhelming reason is trying to spare the parents.

"Their mindset is still very conservative," explained a friend.

But for those who did, the stories are heartwarming.

When A came out to her mother, she "apologised for being what some would call abnormal".

"To my surprise, my mum said: 'Who says that being in a heterosexual relationship ensures a lifetime of happiness? As long as you're happy, I'll be happy for you'."

Another said her mum had suspected and asked her dad to talk to her.

"He was more nervous than I was and he concluded that it doesn't matter if I'm in love with a man or a woman as long as the person treats me good and I am happy."

Her mum, however, refused to talk to her for two years. She came around eventually.

"Now when people ask her about me, she will say since I cannot change her, I just have to accept her.

"Most importantly, she is a very good daughter."

When it's time for you to come out, you will. Chances are, the people around you will react better than expected.

So here I am, out.

Hello, I am a gay Singaporean.

This article was first published in The New Paper.