Lesbian Taiwanese woman, 18, Auckland

My parents moved from Taiwan to New Zealand around 25 years ago and so I was born and brought up here.

I wouldn’t say my family is homophobic to the level of going around gay-bashing, but I wouldn’t be able to say my family isn’t homophobic either. From when we were young, my two brothers and I would always argue, fight, and mock each other. We always knew it was wrong to be racist because whenever we were insulting each other with racist comments, my parents would tell us off. However, whenever we made homophobic comments towards each other, my parents never interfered, so we grew up thinking that there was nothing wrong with doing so. As ‘being gay’ had such a negative connotations attached to it in my head, it was one of the reasons why it took me years to stop denying that I was gay.

I still remember my reaction when I first thought about myself possibly being attracted to a girl. I was around 12 years old, first year in intermediate, and I fell for my friend. When I first thought of myself possibly liking her, my reaction towards myself was “EWWW NO! I’m not a lesbian! That’s not possible!”….From then on, I denied all attraction towards women and persuaded myself that everyone felt the same; and those strong feelings I had were probably just idolisation or something else.

Only in my last year of high school was I able to come out to my close friends. I remember being so afraid of scaring them away because most of them were Koreans. I knew that they were brought up in a way which would make it difficult to accept me. When I told them I was attracted to women, they told me they were fine with it…but for weeks they avoided talking or having eye contact with me. Even though, most of them did end up accepting me, it was still a terrifying experience.

Another reason why I was so afraid of coming out to my Korean friends was because I had already had a bad experience. About a year before I came out, I had had a crush on a Korean girl in my class. We were close and we messaged each other every day for months. But one night, I had this crazy idea of telling her that I liked her.  The next morning I did, and from then on she stopped messaging me, wouldn’t talk to me, turned people against me, and one of her friends (who I barely knew) wrote a line of Korean in my book…which I later found out meant “Eat shit!” That was the first time I had been bullied so straightforwardly…

Now I’m out of high school, I am so grateful because I have been able to meet so many wonderful people who support me, accept me, and see me for who I am instead of who I am attracted to.