The (Financial) Cost Of Coming Out as a Queer Gay Man
Coming out is a very special experience for a queer person. For me it wasn’t really a definitive “moment” per sé, but it was a collection of moments where I chose to be myself instead of hiding.
It’s the moments that add up, for example:
Actually saying the jokes that hint at my sexuality. (It’s surprising how even the tamest, most common jokes do that)
Using relevant pronouns when I talk about the future or theorize about my life. (Boyfriend, Husband, he pronouns)
Using relevant pronouns when I’m asking for advice from someone.
Figuring out what “your type” is and talking about it.
Agreeing with people when they point out someone good looking.
Letting myself have crushes, instead of immediately eviscerating my desires.
I want to say something important to you:
The biggest journeys in our lives are seasons where we are faced with the decision to choose authenticity over harmony.
Coming out is an act of bravery. It takes heaping mounds of courage. People every day risk their families, friends, communities and jobs to come out.
It can cost a lot.
I was thinking about how this relates to my own financial ownership journey, and it had me thinking:
How much money did it cost for me to come out as a queer gay man?
Literally me when I got this idea:
Now, before we get started, I want to say that this is *my* situation alone as a gay person of color. I came out in a more independent part of my life with a job and my own place. I had a lot of resources, and I feel very blessed with how things played out the way it did. Some people did not have the same experience, nor am I implying that this is "how it is". On the contrary, a lot of LGBTQ people become homeless because their family shunned them. There's levels to this.
My experience was different. I feel v lucky. A lot of my experiences are opt-in but I want to share with you the most formative parts of my coming out and how much it all cost me.
My story is just ONE story of coming out, through the a perspective of financial cost. (That IS what this blog is about, gurl)
This does not paint broad strokes about anyone else in the LGBTQ+ community, but it is a painting that contributes to the tableau of the community.
I also what to acknowledge that there are problematic things that come with turning a process like coming out into numbers and figures. Treat this as more of just another way of looking at the experience.
That being said, it cost me about $5,000 to come out in the past 2 years.
Yeah. Here's a pie chart:
The Financial Cost of RV's Coming Out Process
Yeah. Around $5k. That's a lot of hummus.
Here is the breakdown from the largest expense to the lowest:
1. Going to New York City for FANHS Conference.
FANHS stands for Filipino American National Historical Society (leave it to Pinxys make a name that's a mouthful of extra-ness).
The national conference was in New York City in 2016, and it was my first time in The Big Apple.
This was an important trip for me because for most of my life, I've siloed my Filipino identity and my queerness. For some reason or another, I've been conditioned to keep them separate.
This space was different y'all. There were so many queer FIlipinxs people there. There were so many that we ended up making a FANHS LGBTQ Caucus. (email me if you're LGBTQ Filipinx and you're interested in it.)
I made friends and mentors, new kuyas, ates, and katehs (ate+kuya). They showed me about my history as a brown person, and helped me be proud of my lineage and where I stand in the world. Just like my ancestors used the stars to navigate, these people helped me find my way.
There were intersections of my identity that I never let myself have. I felt like a whole person. Filipinx and Queer, and celebrated for all of it. It was also Pride that weekend. I was there at Stonewall when Obama officially designated it a National Monument.
ALSO my brown little boy dreams came true when Prince Charming from Brandi version of Cinderella SHOWED UP with his basement flooding smile.
Paolo Montalban y'all.
Woo y'all. Therapy has been a life saver. When I realized I was about to take some big risks with coming out, I immediately signed up for counseling. It was the best decision I've made for myself. Hands down.
I've never gotten psychotherapy before, except for that one time in University where I joined a research project so I could get extra credit (that I probably didn't even need smh, RV WHY?)
I came out to my therapist. She helped me process through thoughts that seemed so big and unmanageable. I learned how to metabolize feelings of shame, guilt and anger. She will also be reading this article so HAYYY GURL. *tongue pop*
For the first time in my life, I learned how to think, not what to think.
In the beginning I found myself essentially asking her, "ok so tell me what to do. Give me a directive. I will pursue it with great effort. "
This is how it was in the closet. This is how it was to survive for me all these years.
You learn the rules, and you play the game better than anyone else.
But when I looked for her to tell me what to think or do–she would smile gently, hold space, and ask me questions about how *I* wanted to go about things. Soon enough, her kind and gentle voice became part of me and now *I* am that voice for myself.
I still go regularly and I look forward to seeing her each time. No matter how "together" you think you are, anybody can benefit from having someone that's a professional hear you out.
3. The Reformation Project (TRP) Conferences and Leadership Cohort
The Reformation Project is an organization is very dear to my heart. The biggest struggle I had with coming out was how intersected with my Christian faith.
Matthew Vines spearheaded its beginnings with the book God and the Gay Christian, and since then it's grown to be an organization that launches trained reformers of LGBTQ inclusion all over the world.
Just like my Filipinx Identity, it felt like my sexuality could never intersect with my faith. The Church has failed in this conversation and have mostly told people to either "stop being gay" or "never *act* on your gayness".
I went to every national conference that TRP held. I was hungry for the knowledge.
Mostly, I was hungry to hear that "I was okay."
Ya gurl is really intense. I applied and was chosen as one of the small handfuls of people to participate in the national 2016 Leadership Cohort. We spent a rigorous 3 months in a graduate level research cohort, where we read scholarly biblical texts and dissected them from front to back. It was a master's level course on leadership, community organizing, and Theology. All to answer my question:
Can I be gay and Christian?
Spoiler alert: yes.
I may not be able to argue or remember all the points well, but I do want to tell you that a pretty air-tight answer is there for LGBTQ inclusion. It's not made up. Go find out for yourself. But yeah, you can, my dear. Go be the gay Christian you've always wanted to be.
Just no bottoming until marriage.
just kidding. 😉
No matter how curved and rocky my relationship with Christianity can be, I'm glad I found out. Every penny I spent with the organization has been worth it and necessary for my growth as a queer man.
Their next conference is in Chicago at the end of October 2017. See you there!
4. Miscel-gay-neous Objects
Ok I feel like there are some things that you should try out when you realize that gender rules are for suckers, and you can do whatever you want.
Some of them include:
- Buying heels and wearing them out.
- buying nail polish and NOT removing them before you leave your friend's house.
- Eyebrow tweezers
- The frequency of how often you buy La Croix increases exponentially
- Large hand fans you can *FWOP* open for emphasis.
- Good boxer briefs
- Random jewelry just to try out
- Actually good lube
- Random make up to try on
- Massive tubs of coconut oil
- Cover charges for terrible gay clubs
The possibilities are endless. I really should have made a "super gay" category in my budget.
Les Livres. I owe so much to books. Low key, I hate "reading" actually, because I fall asleep too easily. At least with written long-form text. That's why I use Audible and listen to books while I shower and get ready. Now I'm blasting through about 2.5 books a month.
I read a bunch books about being queer. I read books about how to live life bravely. Through books, I've travelled through the world and learned about different religions. I've read story books that involved queer people in it.
Books helped me normalize queerness. To actually see myself in characters. To read self-improvement books that encouraged me to ask deep questions about who I am and where I want to go. It was incredible, and it's helped me with the anxieties or daily conversation. There's always something I can talk about now because there's always something I'm learning.
Also, I read Harry Potter for the first time, which admittedly was NEVER going to happen without Audible.
It's not a joke when people say that reading makes you smarter. I can feel my brain expanding as I take notes on the books I'm listening to. I'm obsessed with reading now.
I think that people aren't boring because they suck. People are only boring because they lack the words to describe what it's like to be them and lack the self permission to express it. Books will give you the words. They helped me find the phrases that describe me as a queer filipinx $w@g M@$tr3$$.
See? I'm sooooo smart. Using symbols as letters? Innovative. That's because a bitch reads.
So there you have it. Between that $5k was split between those 5 main categories.
We never really stop "coming out". If you're not out yet and you're feeling like there's no end in in sight, lean on my faith for a second and know that you have been brought this far for a reason.
Call back the parts of yourself that you've orphaned. Stay in your body, and fight the tendency to withdraw into grayscale.
Soon enough, your shame will transform into a badge of honor and resilience.
If you straights want to send me $5k for my struggles, consider us even.
Happy Pride to you all!
Buy some Detroit Pride T-shirts!
If you're not from Detroit, but you are from Michigan, don't worry, I got you.
Find Your True North:
- What kind of resources do you need to support you in coming out? Is there a way for your to get these resources in different ways?
- If it's not safe to come out yet, can you use financial independence as a motivator for you to work hard to build a life for yourself? Remember to take care of yourself!
- If you're an ally, how can you help someone with this process? (Buy them books, take them to conferences, etc)