“I wanted to tell you this earlier, actually on off-line face-to-face meeting. I actually tried to say this in person during the summer when we were hanging out. I’ve been dating a girl.”
For about 4-5 seconds, I was dumbfounded.
“What about your boyfriend whom you talked about?”
“Well, that ‘boyfriend’ was in fact a girl. I’m really sorry.”
Here she was, my best friend whom I’ve known since high school, now saying that she is a sexual minority. Yes I was surprised, but it did not come to me as a massive shock. We have known each other for a long time. We talked a lot. We hung out a lot. We spent so much time together. I know what she likes and doesn’t like. She knows the same about me. We hold similar values in life, and we have similar way of thinking and problem solving. So only thing that’s changed about her is, her “boyfriend” is in fact a “girlfriend.” Other than that, she’s still the person I used to know.
“You are not surprised?”
“I was a bit, but not that much. It’s not that something I can persuade you to change. On the top of that, I’ve known you for a long time and you are still my good friend. Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Not a lot of people are cool about it like you.”
Not sure about all the details, but back in the highschool she did not know she was a sexual minority. She claims that she started to vaguely realize about her sexuality in college. Though she is sure that she is sexual minority, she’s unsure whether she’s bisexual or homosexual. This I cannot advise, because I am a straight and have not experienced anything that is uniquely related to the homosexual people. I suggested her to join her college’s GLBT student club and get a counseling. She agreed to get a counseling some time, but she is afraid of joining the GLBT club – like myself, she’s Korean and she is more included to the Korean student society in her campus than I did. Joining her school’s GLBT club might cause her a massive trouble in the Korean student society. Moreover, doing so might cause further trouble with her parents. Her parents are not fully aware of their daughter’s sexuality yet. But for sure, her parents – especially her mom – has VERY negative idea of sexual minority.
Living as a GLBT is a tough thing even in US. South Korea is even more closed society to GLBT people when compared to US. Many people still think sexual minority is some kind of mental disease and is disgusting. Some people who came out as GLBT is not considered as a serious full member of this society. What really worries me is that my friend plans to come back to Korea so she can go to medical school here. Being a straight woman, I cannot imagine what kind of hardship she will go through from now on – all I know is that whether she comes out or not, both paths will be incredibly difficult and challenging for her.
To be honest, it is a whole new experience to me, too. I know several GLBT people among my acquaintances and classmates. Since we were not that close, the whole GLBT issue was out of my radar. But now my best friend being a member of GLBT, the whole issue comes to me as a new level. I will be very upset if she is picked on or not granted any of the rights that are enjoyed by other citizens just because she is in love with a woman. Now I have another goal on my career (if I can continue it as a HR professional): I want to change the Korean firms, or any other firms to be more open and accepting to foreigners, TCKs and sexual minorities. If a person is a great engineer or manager yet denied from the position or unable to work due to his/her coworkers treat them awfully, just because of his sexual preference and/or cultural background, that is not fair; that is a great loss for the employer too. They don’t get to bloom their talents and benefit others. My friend is extremely talented when it comes to biology, math, and chemistry. If she doesn’t get to use her talent because she is homosexual/bisexual, that is a great loss for everyone. That’s an unfair game.
Back to my friend – since she was really not comfortable about joining the GLBT club on campus, I highly recommended her to visit counselor. It will be a long, tought journey for her to be herself: and as a straight friend, all I can do is to stand by her side no matter what. I just wish what is the best for her and her future.