Dan: Growing up in a traditional Asian family where my parents were immigrants, I thought that my father would freak out. I told my mom first because I had that conversation where I said, “What do you think about gay marriage?” and my mom said, “Well, I think it’s totally fine!” And then when I came out to her, she just clammed up and she got really uncomfortable and we haven’t been able to really talk about it for many years. But when I told my dad, it was fascinating because he said, well in his words, “I’m a biblical scholar and the Bible says that we each make our own choices, and so the best I can do is persuade you but I can’t actually force you to do anything. God says that we make our own choices.” So I thought that was extremely enlightened and very mature, absolutely wonderful to hear. You know my friends were cheering when I came out to my mom because they were all saying “Korean victory, you’re not kicked out of the house!” haha, but there’s this idea that being ethnic is very important, just to segue a little bit, especially as a queer individual growing up in this country, international or not, first gen…it doesn’t really matter, the perceptions of who you are are real, even if you feel it’s completely different. So you know, coming out to my parents was really hard and 17-year-old Dan didn’t really know how that would turn out but even though one parent really doesn’t support it and one person listens, at least, I still have a really good network of people from our generation. Because nowadays right, it’s just not a thing.
Exactly. So, you said that when you were in the 9th grade, you came out to your neighbor–what propelled you to do that?
Dan: Well she was a little nosy and she would turn around on the bus every morning and say, “You know Dan, if there’s something you need to tell me I’m here for you.” And actually she made me feel really efficacious one day, and I just told her and she got really excited because she said you know, she had never had a gay friend before and in that sense it was something selfishly, I think, exciting for her because she had that “gay friend.” But also she was just wonderfully supportive and always willing to listen and from the start I could tell that it wasn’t just about her right? It was also about me and she did see that I was struggling to contain this secret that I had.
(Excerpt from Dan’s Out and Successful Interview)