It all seemed to happen within a few hours, but it took the whole day. My partner encouraged me to do it in person. Just in case things went south, I would at least be able to stock up on Filipino food from my family one more time. I was not expecting things to happen the way they did. I expected the worst for quite some time. That is why I left it for years. That is why I put it off until pretty much the last moment.
I planned to bring home some copies of the Community Edition and show my parents the articles I have written in my new name: Adrian Kaleb Quijano. It would be the perfect segue to fall into. I did not want to broach the topic myself for fear of showing how much I was worried about it. I thought I’d be able to use the paper as my shield. It would offer up my name to my parents on a silver platter and then I’d have the courage to bring it up. But once I placed the paper down in front of them, nothing.
They were only proud of their oldest child for writing multiple pieces and being an active part of a newspaper. I stood next to them as they flipped through the pages excitedly. They both asked intuitive questions about the pieces I wrote and the photos that accompanied them. Phase one of the plan did not work and I truly did not know where to go from there. I answered their polite questions stiffly, surprised they were not saying anything about my new name.
I do not remember how I fully worked up the nerve to bring up the topic again once it passed. I know that after the newspaper did not work the first time I sat down at the kitchen table across from my father, trying to think of a way to salvage my plan. I almost did not do it. I was already justifying coming out to them another time. How it would be fine, and I waited so long anyways.
I decided against putting it off because I stressed myself out the whole day. Time was passing me by. My brother and partner both came to sit by my side as if they could tell what was coming.
Eventually, the stress and anxiety I felt inside was visible on my face. My dad asked me if I was okay, and I told him no because there was something I wanted to say. I opened up The Community Edition once again. I opened the paper to the story I wrote about being a trans and queer Asian man. I shared the pre-prepared speech about my gender that I practiced in my head.
I told them my gender and my future are entwined. I told them how I have a whole community and found family back in Waterloo that accepted me and celebrated me for who I am. I even shared how I started hormone replacement therapy about a year ago. How I was still their kid just different names and different ways of referring to me was all that was needed from them. Most of all I highlighted how happy I was since I began living as myself.
After I was done sharing my story, I took a breath and let my parents speak. All they could say was. That they were grateful for me being so open. I could feel my heart soar, even if my brain took a little longer to process how well everything was going.
My mom told me that aside from changing how she would refer to me, she’d also change my contact’s name on her phone. She exclaimed that we need to celebrate. My dad helped me figure out a new Filipino nickname that wasn’t gendered.
On the car ride home, I started to feel the gravity of how genuinely happy my parents were for me. And that I had my partner and brother there with me, who supported me and loved me from the start. It made me feel whole, like I reconnected to a part of me that was missing. For so long I did not let myself believe I would be accepted as I am by my family. Now that I was, I felt lighter.