andrew ho, photographer
andrew ho, photographer
san francisco wedding + portrait photographer

Hello! This is my coming out!!

I thought about texting everyone “YO I LIKE CHICKS AND DUDES!” and leaving it at that, but opted for the long form essay instead. Optional reading below:

This is a bit hard to write because I don’t yet know if I want to label myself as anything other than...not straight. If you had to label, I’d say bisexual. I think men and women are both attractive and I’m still figuring out where on the spectrum I fall (but does it matter either way?).

I’ve obviously known this for a while. For a long time (aka until this morning) I thought this would be a “secret” I took to the grave — the fear of coming out is and remains very strong.

I think the fear started when I was a kid. As a suburbanite Orange County kid, to me there was nothing more important than fitting in. I wanted nothing more than to be a surfer with blond hair who threw shakas, ate poké, and was always tan (cue up any episode of Laguna Beach). That was the gold standard, and my mindset was that I could “overcome" not surfing and I could “overcome” not being white, but I couldn’t overcome both of those while also not being straight.

I also didn’t want to disappoint my parents. When your parents don’t grow up in America, the lesson you’re taught is not “make your own path! be who you want to be!”. Instead, you’re often taught that you “make it” by not taking risks, by taking the safe route (…and by outscoring everyone on the SAT so you can go to UCLA lol). It seemed silly that anyone would purposefully label themselves in a way that put them out on the fringes.

There’s also the fear of being sterotyped. I generally have beef with any sort of label. As example, there’s always the internal dialogue reminder to associate myself with hardworking, dependable Asian, but distance myself from meek, follower-not-a-leader Asian. I continue to fear that a new label will pigeon hole me into another set of stereotypes. 

The fear of not being able to take it back also crept in. If you’re reading this, you are an important part of my life. I’m grateful for the community that developed even while having this “secret”. I was really (irrationally) afraid that I’d lose that community until I sat down and thought about it more.

One of the biggest fears is the fear of being held back - not by myself, but by others. Yes, I still believe I can do anything, but if I wanted to run for President, no one will deny that identifying as LGBT makes it that much harder to win. I always thought to myself that I’d be crazy to give up the privilege of straightness.

Lastly, there are some pretty massive unresolved questions piece of all this. I grew up with and understanding of things binaries - it’s either good or bad, gay or straight, Heaven or Hell. I’m still working out how all of this fits together, and would love for you to join me in trying to answer questions like “How does a relationship work with a woman if you’re also attracted to men. Does it even matter at all?” “How do you reconcile deeply-resonant principles of Christianity with interpretations that tell you you’re a sinner?” tl,dr; I don’t think they are necessarily at odds

Those were the arguments I’d have with myself when I thought about writing this. To be honest, this is still hard to write and will be hard to send. (As an aside, it feels so absurd that this fact about me necessitates such a dramatic announcement - it’s like announcing to the world that I like eating potatoes both mashed *and* fried - but alas, such is the state of our society. The weight of performance is heavy.)

I’m also writing this now because if being honest is my one of core values, then I’ve been doing a disservice to myself and to all of you. For the longest time I’ve been trying to convince myself that if I was honest and transparent about everything except this, it’d be fine…but that’s like saying “I never cheat, except for the times when I cheat”.

I think that in-person coming-outs were so awkward and not my style - there’s so much build up, then whoever you tell is put on the spot to react/celebrate or awkwardly not celebrate/console.

If you’ve noticed that I’ve been even worse than usual at keeping in contact, it’s only partly due to time zone difference and mostly due to the fact that I’ve really enjoyed using this time in Dublin to be physically removed from normal life and better able to reflect on what I’ve just written above.

I’d like for this to be as uneventful as possible. I want nothing more than for this to be a normal Sunday in Dublin where I go to yoga and eat my store-bought frozen pizza in peace. Nothing has changed, nothing has to be specially acknowledged. Think of how annoying it is when you send an announcement email at work and people reply all with messages like “that’s great!”, “thanks for sending this!”. Treat this as an [fyi] email, not an [action required] email and continue going about your day.

I’ve also shared this note relatively widely, so don’t worry I’m not passing the secret burden on to you, but this is also very personal so don’t go tweeting this out. Plus, perhaps this wasn’t a secret to anyone…in which case, joke’s on me!

In other updates, I’ll most likely be in Dublin until July now, so please come visit, or I’ll gladly meet you elsewhere in Europe!! (since we’re being honest, Dublin is not that hype. The people here are great though!)

Lastly, thanks to those of you who have been role models in this and were examples for me. I really appreciate it and (obviously) haven’t been able to express that gratitude until now.

- Andrew