what i gained from a little bit of courage



In the past, I’ve written about coming out on honeyhands. Personally, I don’t really like the term “coming out”. It feels weird to me because it makes it seem like it is something extra special when it is only a part of my current self. To me, how I live as a “lesbian” or as a “bisexual” person isn’t very important; I think what’s truly special and miraculous in itself is meeting a life partner regardless of their gender.


I no longer worry about my sexuality, but there was a time where I did and couldn’t tell anyone about it. I’ll recount that time to you today.


Three years ago, even though I had a lover who was a woman, when I would be asked “Do you have a boyfriend?” by my friends I said “No, I’m not really into dating right now.” for over a year. Even when I did admit to having a partner, I talked about my partner as if she was a guy. When my friends would say “Show us a picture!” it was my go-to to respond with “He doesn’t really like having photos taken...”


The first person I came out to was my junior who I was closest to. We were close since we were in high school and had mutual trust in each other. I always thought to myself that I should tell them someday. When I was in Korea as an exchange student, they came to visit and we explored the area together. I decided that I would tell them that night when we got back to the hostel, but I had no idea how they would respond. I remember being extremely nervous and not being able to say it out loud for over two hours. To this day, they are a friend who is always there for me and gives me valuable advice when I need it.


The next time I came out, it was to my ex-boyfriend who I hadn’t seen in a while and coincidentally bumped into on campus at my university in Japan. He asked, “How are you? What have you been up to?” so I just answered, “I’ve got a partner now who’s a woman!” He said “I see. I’m rooting for you guys.”


These two were the only people I came out to when I was attending university in Japan. At the time, I was playing the part of a student who didn’t care for dating and relationships. Looking back at it, I think that may have come from possibly being in denial about my sexuality, not being able to fully accept it, and trying to convince myself that it was only a phase.


I also had a not-so-great influence from a gender studies class that was part of the general education requirement when I was a university student in Japan. At the orientation for the class, after learning LGBT related terms as a basis to gender studies, for some reason we were to discuss our personal understanding of LGBT people and issues in small groups. In my group was a guy I didn’t know and a close friend of mine. They kept saying “There isn’t anyone who is a sexual minority near me, so I don’t really know.” And since the main topic of the class was women’s labour, we didn’t learn about the basic issue of why queer folk are treated as “the other” and not “normal”. During the group discussion, I couldn’t talk about myself and I remember thinking to myself, there probably would never be a time where I would talk to anyone about this topic.


After I started going to grad school in Korea and came to be in an environment where it is common knowledge that sexuality is fluid, I became so open about it that I surprised myself. I was also surprised at how easy it was to not hide myself and talk about the things I want to talk about. Plus, I realized how fun it was to write articles that I wanted to actually write.


I became even more open through writing my “coming out” article on honeyhands. A close friend that I’ve known since junior high school contacted me saying “I read your article. Why didn’t I ever realize it before? Sorry. It pains me to imagine what you were going through.” Some of my other friends said, “Why didn’t you ever tell me? I kind of knew from your posts on social media, but I was waiting for you to tell me.”


I said I didn’t like the term “coming out”, but maybe I was worried about the response I would get from the people around me. Maybe I was scared. But I didn’t get any negative reactions from anyone, and from opening up, I became able to talk about more things with my friends, and started to contact them more frequently.


I was just so happy for my close friends to find out more about myself. It might not be as surprising to others as I think, and it might not be a big deal at all. Even if it isn’t a big deal to them, it really means a lot to me when I receive a heartwarming message from them, or when they tell me “I read your article.”


I’d like to use this opportunity to express that I’m so happy to have such great friends around me, and I want to be that good friend to my friends as well. Furthermore, I hope that my article can give a little bit of courage to those of you who are thinking of coming out in the future.

Images by Yurina

English Translated by Kiara

Edited by Eli, Kiara and Hikari