I still remember how my parents used to compliment me about my grades in school when I was younger. I was a good kid back then, no bad grades, no troubles, no bad behaviors. They had high expectations of me, although I was a mediocre in everything. I guess this just a burden of being the firstborn in the family. I should at least be a role model for my younger sister.
At 12 I was a what people would call a tomboy. I had no “girly toys” other than stuffed animals and plushies. I also played basketball, baseball and football. People will consider a girl who plays sports a tomboy. At 13 I decided to chop my hair off like a boy, having been inspired by Justin Bieber.
Middle school was the best phase of my life, I was completely free to be me, to have a really short hair and to dress as weirdly as I liked. My first experience with a girl also started in middle school. Some might say this is too early, but I just discovered myself faster.
Although I loved being the girl with short hair and boy’s clothes, I decided to grow my hair, wear skirts and do what society wants of me by the time I was 15. I was ready for high school and ready to leave my tomboy side, though not my gayness. I never hated myself for liking girls – confused, yes. I had fallen in love with a girl the year before and I had had no one to talk to. So to overcome my confusion, I read.
And here I am – seven years later. I am 21 years old now, when you are considered mature enough to drink alcohol, but not enough to leave your family home and live your own life (unless you’re married.
This is the age when you start to introduce a boy to your family and I never did. I had a boyfriend once, but it did not last long. I was never attracted to a man and I had only done it to look “normal.” My parents had begun to ask me why I never brought a guy home and why I always hang out with girls. It may be easier for me to answer if I lived in the west where most people don’t see queer people as sick people. But unfortunately I live in Indonesia, in a suburb 20 kilometers away from Jakarta, where to be alive is easy but being yourself is not.
The suspicions from my mother had begun when my former girlfriend used to visit me daily and would take a nap on my bed. We lived in a medium-sized house, so my parents would notice any visitors of mine.
I was sixteen when my mother finally asked, “Are you dating her?” My heart was racing; I was afraid as I denied it, but it hardly allayed my mother’s suspicion.
In the beginning of college year, I started dating a new girl. We went to the same high school, but she was two years older. She is an easygoing person, who loves to talk and make conversations. My parents loved her. We pretended to be best friends in the living room, and would out make out in my bedroom.
As the relationship grew, it was harder to hide the fact that we weren’t just besties. Probably because we were getting busier and it is hard to maintain a relationship if we didn’t see each other enough, I often asked my girlfriend to spend a night at my house.
One night my worst fear came true. I accidentally sent a text message intended for my girlfriend to my mother. The text read, “Be careful, love,” and was sent right after she left our house. My mother knew who it was for. She told my father – who would have never suspected it – about it and they started to yell at me, while I denied as much as I could, telling them it wasn’t meant for her.
I wanted to cry but I could not. I had a depression after that, locking myself in my room all day, but still pretended like nothing happened. I still had to interact with everyone in the house. It was summer break and I wasn’t allowed to go out; I couldn’t see my girlfriend. I had to lie and sneak out.
“Remember, I would rather not see you as a daughter, if I ever caught you dating a woman,” my mom said. “If you lie to me, you will suffer.”
I actually wasn’t the trouble maker at home. More than three times my sister’s school called my parents to tell them that had she had lied about where she was, that she did not pass some exams, and that she got caught kissing with a boy in school. For these she was grounded, but because she had told my mother that a guy wanted to date her, they were proud of her for being open and told me I should be more like her. I should have a guy to bring home for them.
It has been a few months since the incident, and my mother has hurt me many times. I might have hurt her too. But she had no idea how hard I work to get good scores at school, to earn my own money, to finish my study faster, and to handle everything on my own. To be a good daughter and be accepted and loved, if someday they find out that I am dating a woman.
I have done so much to meet society’s expectation of me, buy I can’t sacrifice my feelings by being with a man. I guess for now I just have to suffer.