Name: Marc-Antony Pereira
City and Country you are from: Johannesburg, South Africa
Your gender: Male
What did you come out as? Gay
Your coming out story
Prior to my explosion from the iron-wrought impenetrable oak closet, which I had remained cast away in for 20 long years, life had been, if I could describe it… “quite fucked up”. Born into a family whose heritage and traditions passed generation to generation, encouraged young sons to follow along paths to a future in “fruits and veg and hairy daughters”.
Knowing early on in life that to achieve this, meant I would have to follow the flock, court a potential wife and with no romance bare a child with more resemblance to an Arab clan, live the life with more deceit and pain which I was sure no man alone could muster. Knowing full well how hard that life would be to follow, I managed to continue wearing the mask of straight and narrow, allowing my poor mother more time and hope for her son’s future.
Matric ended with the tears of a girl I had dated which resulted from my hasty retreat from her emotional clutches. My eyes where set on the gap year away in Norway that I had decided on and I ran with more speed than The Nike footwear could afford me. Months away from home in a country whose idea for a good time involved wine and talks of mountains, suited me so well. The language barrier gave me great comfort in knowing that my unfamiliar accent, look and attitude would save me from suspicion as to why I seemed not interested in the women.
But the day came with surprise and with one swift blow. My aunt destroyed my safe haven. She first was fierce then hurt which turned into demands. Why had I never told her the truth when so many times she had questioned me about it? My answer was simple yet hit its mark… “Do you have any idea as to how I feel or what it would be like to tell the world that you are not what they see normal?” As quick as anger had enraged her, right there the tears began to drown her. My life had changed and I began again with the renovation to my destroyed closet. But wait, you probably are wondering why?
I’m out, I’m gay, so why go back and pretend. The answer was I still had parents so naive, that fear itself took power. My aunt had different plans on her agenda, and she felt it right that my mother know her son now rather than later. So she planted the seed in my mother’s demanding mind and said her son had news to tell her. If you know my mother, you know she is the type of women that drives her life like a fuel propelled speed of sound machine, wholeheartedly believing that life is black and white with no shades of grey and no way in hell her son was gay.
The question came with a venomous sting and she requested answer to the news which she was after. No amount of retreat could come and so I said “mom I’m definitely gay.” What came next I doubt you thought of. Nothing, nothing came from my dear mothers lips. Not that day, nor the next, or the day after or months to be exact. My father implied that he knew of places spiritually run with success for a gay cure at 100%. I changed. I no longer hid or was shy. I became the rebel and lashed out at every single opportunity. My sheltered life and values flew from the window, replaced with more alcohol running through my veins than blood or water.
I leapt onto the queer scene and became an interesting perusal to the more experienced wolf. My parents and I had not spoken for months and casually ignored one another when crossing paths. The straw that broke my mothers back was when she found me and a guy together in the sack. The fight broke out, we let each other have it, and in the end she won and I began my packing. She could not acknowledge who I was and found it easy just to leave me and my bags on Melrose steps. Months went by and I found a temporary home with friends I knew not well, but anything was better than the hell back home. My father made many attempts to mend the broken fence, and then the ultimatums came. Study in fashion design would only be possible if I put away pride and come back home. I went because I knew now fully, just how hard it was out in the big world with no money.
So that’s my story, no events left out. If you wonder what concluded, then know it had no happy ending with regards to how I wish my parents had embraced me being gay, as opposed to just coming to terms with it. Although they say they have accepted it, I am so sad they do not embrace it. My message to the young, whose pain and fear was mine and hold them in that closet. Know that gay is not the disease; lack of support and comfort is. Love yourself above all else and find the courage to begin your own path.
I did not lose my parents or friends, instead I found my future to be more fruitful than what it could have been. So I got my happy beginning and I’m due to be married, not right now but soon. I found my man and I know someday you will find the same.
What does being out mean to you?
Being out is one of the most precious realizations that I have come to in my life. It was the first step necessary for me to make, in order for the true me to embrace all the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer, the true opportunities I am destined for, which would have all been lost, had I continued to live in hiding from myself!
What differences, if any, did your cultural background make to your experience of coming out?
The only difference that my Portuguese cultural background initially had, was instilled fear of being rejected by my family and friends if the truth was known. Thankfully the fear of the unknown was brief, and inner courage and determination to move forward, afforded me the strength to face my fears head on. I never look back and cringe! Only forward with pride.
If you could do it all again, would you do it any differently? If so, how?
I always say without a doubt no, but the truth of the matter is that, in everything we do, time passes and as we grow, we learn and mature. I’ve learnt that at the time of my coming out, the young, strong arrogant me, took the fear which my family had as a sign of sign of selfish rejection. Now a little older, I know that they meant well, naive to this lifestyle, fear was only for the life they thought that bring me more rejection and disappointment. So if I could go back, I would change the way I reacted to my family. Instead of rebelling against them, I instead would try to educate them, and also remind them, that they did not lose a son that day, they instead received a courageous man.
What advice would you give someone wanting to come out?
My only advice is this. Know that as a gay man, you are not alone. Your situation is not better or worse than any man has had to face before you. Take comfort in knowing that the reason you are not alone lies with the fact that each and every single gay man has had to grow and face the same situation you know find yourself in. Feel proud. This is not a test of who you are, instead it is a path, chosen by a higher power, for you a special person. The common man needs not prove himself to others by his sexuality, and maybe just maybe, if you see it the way I do, the fact that you have to publicly recognize your sexuality and announce it, definitely says that you’re different, but even better I’m proud and close to perfect, because the majority take comfort in being ordinary, while the minority where you perhaps find yourself today, all end up being quite extraordinary.