E C H O S
fn celebration of the Houston nui of a new, wondetfuUy tuorm and sensitt'oe coming out film—"Ma Vie en Rose" (My Life in Pink)—
Houston Voice and Landmark Theatre Corp. sponsored an essay contest. We invited Voice readers to send in their own stories of
coming out. Intending to pick two winners, we were impressed with the volume of submissions ai\d ultimately could not narrow our
choices to just two. So. below we present the three winning essays.
Houston Voice and the Landmark Theatres would like to thank every one wlio took tlie lime to participate in the contest. Everyone
who wrote an essay did a wonderfuljob. We were touched and moved by each one: we only wish we could have reprinted them alL
Meanwhile, we invite you to enjoy these tltree stories, and to stop by and see "Ma Vic en Rose." winner of the Goiden Globe award
for Best Foreign Language Film It opens for an exclusive Houston nm Feb. 20 at Landmark's Greenway Ttieatre. (Our winners, who
received tickets to the advance screening and passes for fiiture Landmark JUms, were notified by telephone how to pick up their
Joy at "Wedding
by KHOI NGUYEN
My love for the cinema has helped
me to cope with my sexuality and my
coming oul to my family and friends. I
(along wilh other numerous closeted
homosexuals) would always envision
the perfect day when I would reveal
my sexuality without any complications (like rejection or outcast) just
like in those classic hetero movies.
Coming from a religious-oriented family, my parents and friends would
never even discuss the topic.
During the college years, 1 made one
resolution to myself. That resolution
would be to find one or two movies
lhat could be a catalyst to discuss
homosexuality and my "coming out".
Then the new Queer Cinema arrived
in the late 1980s. I was excited lhal
the entertainment industry would set
lhe tone to my coming out.
However, movies like "Longtime
Companion." "Living End" and
"Philadelphia" were AIDS-related
movies that I did not undersland and
were seemingly inappropriate.
I revised my resolution to look for
"relationship movies" with gay lovers.
The following year, two superb movies
were released. "Sum of Us" and
"Wedding Banquet." Since I am in a
steady relationship with a Caucasian
lover, I was prejudiced toward
I had to wait a whole year until the
following Thanksgiving to plan my
coming oul. I invited my family members and friends lo have a nice holiday
meal. During lhe evening, I requested
Ihem to view a wonderful "new" video.
Some of my friends had heard of the
movie, and my family members had
My lover and I told them after the
movie finished. I was stunned that my
mother (who is a devout Buddhist) did
not have strong objections. She smiled
and reached out to hug me. Mothers
do always know. Later, she would tell
me that she would support me whole
Even though 1 did not plan this, my
parents invited me to see a new
movie—"Home for the Holidays".
I am blessed to live in a decade—the
1990s—wherein some courageous
movie makers would envision my
dreams and would support the gay
communily. Without independenl
movies and the independent movie
venues. 1 would be among the deadly
My gay community, my gay social
environments (like Asian and Friends
of Houston), and my gay lover are my
by HOLLY WHILOCK
Two years after my first kiss with
another girl, I told my besl friends
from high school that I was gay. This
simple statement, though, does not
even begin to tell the slory!
There were five of us that hung oul
together, all very different and yet so
similar. I was the ultra-jock, Casey
belonged to the drill team. Amy
belonged to everything, Jessica was
plagued wilh boy troubles, and
Brenda was just boy-crazy.
Suffering from major senior-itis and
needing a break from Ihe real world,
we decided to have a girls-only get-
together: my mother was out of town,
so it was easy deciding where to party
■After a food, cigarette, and alcohol run
(not necessarily in that order), we got
down to gossiping and consuming our
Alter a slight amount of alcohol consumption and a semi skinny dip in
the apartment pool (In the middle of
February), we settled in for some seri
ous drinking. We decided to play a
For those of you who undersland
the game of "I've Never", you will
immediately know how the first statement In this story happened. For
those fortunate to have never been
introduced to the game. 1 will explain.
Everybody has something to drink,
preferabl alcoholic In nature.
Someone then starts the game off by
making a statement of something that
they have never done. For instance.
"I've never been snow-skiing." If you
have been snow-skiing, you have to
take a drink.
The only point of this game is to find
out inleresling/embarrassing things
about your friends. Little did they
know just what they would find out
Our game was beginning lo hit a
slow point, and quite a bit of alcohol
had been consumed. We'd already
covered all the bases in a lot of differ
ent areas (yes. I used that word for a
reason!) and were running low on topics. Well. .Amy. who was. how shall I
say. the least experienced of us, suddenly got excited and said she had the
perfect "I've never" to use. Even
though it was my turn, ironically. I
couldn't think of anything to say, so I
let her go.
"I've never kissed a girl." said Amy
Casey, who was next, volunteered.
"I've never French-kissed a girl."
A couple of more "I've never" statements later, just to clarify things, pretty much everyone had sobered up. Al
the beginning of the game, we had
declared no questions /explanations
necessary. We threw lhal rule oul lhe
window, as well as the game, and I've
been outrageously oul ever since.
Those four friends are still great
friends. And. as far as I know, none of
us has played the game since!
"Born Out"... of
Pearls and Swine
by MC. JENYFER
Clutching my strand of June
Cleaver Pearls, 1 stared at a black
computer screen, trying lo recall
"coming out." 1 was comfortable being
gay ^before 1 knew what "gay" meant.
Before 1 turned four. I knew I was different because I wanted lo grow up,
marry a nice man some day and
become a housewife. I never mentioned this to any grownups because I
felt secure in my self-knowledge.
There was no one to discourage me.
My mother reinforced my beliefs by
giving me a strand of pearls to play
with. She said it kept me quiet.
I learned how the world viewed my
aspirations when I was six. My new
step-father took one look at me and
knew. He was an alcoholic, who did
his besl over the next few years lo take
advantage of my being gay while never
letting me forget that he hated me. I
tried to tell my father what was happening, bul he said ] was making it
up, Life in my mother's house was
none of his business.
This was 1962, and people did not
talk about these Ihings. Television
talk shows did nol find child abuse an
attractive subject. Those years were
horrible, but 1 learned a valuable lesson. It was easier to forgive my stepfather for his actions than il was to
keep carrying all that resentment-
filled luggage. The experience did nol
make me ashamed of being gay. I
knew it was my step-father who was
sick, not me.
At the age of 12, sanity entered my
life in the person of George E. He not
only understood me, but also was the
fist person lo call us "gay." With
George E. around, I learned we were
not alone. There was a whole world
out there wailing for us. No matter
whai we learn aboul homosexuality.
I'm grateful that I learned this early in
life. It reinforced my belief that I was
OK. George E. and 1 learned to put
being gay into perspective. By the time
we were 14, I understood that being
gay was part of who we were, bul did
not define us itself. Many people lake
years coming to terms wilh being gay.
George E. and I entered adulthood
with health self-esteem.
Over the years. I survived leukemia,
depression, the death of friends, widowhood from AIDS and the last of
childhood nightmares. 1 believe that
coming to terms with my own homosexuality early on helped make the
experiences that followed less frightening.
Today 1 am a gay male housewife.
My dream came true. My spouse says
I should write about my experiences.
He thinks I have a unique perspective
on life. Most cancer survivors do.
] could write a book about my life:
111 call it "The Housewife from Hell." A
simple strand of pearls led me to
become who I am today: a child wilh a
keen self-awareness became a strong
gay man who loves his life.