Being An LGBT Teen

*Some names were changed to protect identities

Being young and reckless, I dove head-first into my first relationship with a girl, *Alex, without considering the consequences of how my parents would react.

I was 16, and she was my best friend. But despite our feelings for each other, we knew we were kids with no real plans for the future. We could probably never get married in Singapore, have the housing rights of a straight couple, or even adopt.

For months, Alex and I dated in secret—‘study sessions’ every day and bedtime phone calls every night. Though my mum grew suspicious, she never brought it up.

I figured we had a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situation, until one day, she gave me and my siblings ‘the talk’. When I joked how she would never have to worry about me getting pregnant, my mum took me aside and asked, “Are you involved with Alex?”

Hesitatingly, I said yes, and explained my feelings weren’t something I could change. She cut me off with a callous “it’s a phase” and insisted I stop seeing Alex or she’d disown me for “straying from God”.

When I refused, my mum severed ties and threw me out of the house with no financial help.

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Living away from home

I was allowed to return home occasionally to avoid suspicion from my grandmother. But I preferred sleeping at friends’ anyway—it was better than being treated like a stranger in my own house.

Yet, the longer I stayed away from home, the more depressed and frustrated I became. My girlfriend became my emotional punching bag and bore the brunt of my bitterness until we became to question whether our relationship was worth fighting for.

Technically, as a bisexual, I could choose. There was a pool of eligible men who could make me, and my parents, happy. But I only wanted her. It didn’t seem fair.

But perhaps I was irresponsible to pursue a relationship knowing I wasn’t ready; I thought love was enough to hold two people together.

And as estranged as we were, I still valued my relationship with my mum. While I was disappointed with her decision to disown me, I understood why she thought it was for my own good.

My family has always been strictly religious, and there was no room to compromise beliefs. The idea of her children going to hell scared her so much that she’d rather let me suffer now than have me face eternal damnation.

Eventually, Alex and I decided breaking up was for the best.

Calling it quits and going home

When I told my mum I had cut contact with Alex, she embraced me and told me I “made the right choice”.

I grimaced at the idea of ‘choice’, and how easy she made it sound. As if I simply turned my ‘lesbian feelings’ off, and didn’t suffer for months before coming to this conclusion.

While I felt loved again, I wasn’t content. She wasn’t really loving me, but the daughter she wanted me to be.

But I didn’t raise the issue because I knew religion wasn’t an easy topic to reach a middle ground on, and I wasn’t ready to have that argument again.

Like many LGBT kids in Singapore, I was tired of feeling like I was fighting a losing battle. I couldn’t change society’s opinion of me, or the laws and policies keeping me from living and loving like everyone else.

And though I had my friends, without my family’s support I felt incomplete. We were a tight-knit family, but everything changed after this incident. I questioned their love and lost trust in them.

But I was tired, so I let them believe what they wanted. If they wanted to pretend my ‘phase was over’, I’ll indulge them.

After six months of being beaten down, I returned to the comfort of the closet.

Being LGBT In A Religious Household

Since then, we’ve resumed ‘normalcy’. My parents ask about my day and we even have family dinners. Yet they fail to notice the hours I spend in bed, despondent.

Still, I haven’t given up trying to make them understand. Maybe in the future, when I’ve become financially independent, I’ll sit them down and try again.

I’ll do my research, and find a religious point of view we all can agree with. Because I refuse to believe God would punish someone for feeling and expressing love.

Right now, I’m too tired to tell them. Plus, it’s nicer to sleep in my own bed.

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Cover photo: Igor Cancarevic via Unsplash