On my first day as a university teacher in Western Japan, I entered the classroom and felt both a flurry of excitement and wave of heated fear. “Would they like me?” I wondered. “Will they accept me?” I continued. After all, this would be my first time to be alone and completely autonomous in a university setting. I had taught before, but as a university teaching assistant, and as a private and small group teacher. In my previous experience at a well-known eikaiwa (English conversation school), I had struggled with questions like “Are you married?”; “Do you have a girlfriend?”; and “What kind of women do you like?” These questions were difficult because when it comes to my sexual orientation and gender identity, I have lived my life in an honest manner. My belief is that it is useful to be self-revelatory if the issue arises if only to illustrate that gay men are not all mentally ill pedophiles and sex addicts. Moreover, I don’t believe in the coming out proclamation; just as heterosexual people needn’t announce their heterosexuality, I don’t believe it a necessity to announce my homosexuality. My mode of everyday communication is infused with authentic commentary about myself without a need for spectacle or apology. I believe that disclosure also illustrates an absence of shame and it has been my experience that such revelation has led to acceptance, questioning, and ultimately informed perspectives. Now, all this being said, I do not wish to hold myself as an example; I believe to each his/her own. We all have our own ways of discussing our identities as dictated by our own emotional and developmental needs. So, when asked the questions above, it was difficult for me to be purposely vague. I had no idea what the repercussions would be should I disclose my identity to my students. Would I be fired? Would I be questioned? Would I be told not to talk of such things? This reticence is a sad reflection on my internalized homophobia, my being still uncomfortable enough with my identity such that I had to worry about keeping it secret.
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