When I was a kid, people usually made fun of me for being too soft.

As funny as they thought they were, the most common joke they could make about me was:

“Hoan, you should go to Thailand!”

In case you don’t get the idea, by traveling to Thailand they meant to go there and get a sex reassignment surgery.

Well, I know, this is just a silly inside joke of Vietnamese kids.

The joke’s idea comes from one of those misconceptions: if you are a gay boy then you automatically want to be a girl.

At that time I didn’t know how to react to it, mostly because, like them, I was partly still confused about myself.

So I stayed silent.

Another classic joke they could make was:

“So Hoan, don’t you have a penis?”

The worst thing about it, this joke was told not only by my friends of but often by my relatives, who were grown up adults.

So I kept silent most of the time and smiled back at them politely.

Hmm, that was very gay, to be honest.

Now, when I was thinking about it, it was not me who didn’t know how to respond.

Those jokes were surely not offending me, because they made no sense.

To clear up the confusion regarding gay people, we might need to understand two related terms: gender identity and sexual identity also known as sexual orientation.

Gender identity

It’s an individual’s personal sense of having a particular gender.

There are some common genders people have been identifying such as:

  • Cis-gender — who has a gender identity that matches their sex at birth. It includes cis-gender men and cis-gender women.
  • Transgender — who has a gender identity that differs from the sex they were assigned to at birth.
  • Agender — who does not identify with a gender at all. They can be considered genderless.
  • Genderfluid — who interchangeably identifies as different genders.
Sexual orientation

A person’s identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are physically, sexually, and romantically attracted.

Some common human sexual orientations are:

  • Heterosexual — sexual/ romantic attraction to someone of the opposite sex or gender (aka straight sexual identity).
  • Homosexual — sexual/ romantic attraction to someone of the same sex or gender. It includes gay and lesbian sexual identity.
  • Bisexual — sexual/romantic attraction to both men and women.
  • Asexual — no sexual/romantic attractions to the gender of any kind.
  • Pansexual — sexual/romantic attraction to all kinds of people, regardless of their gender, sex, and sexual orientation.
These are some misconceptions about homosexuality from Vietnamese people I would like to clarify:

1. Homosexuality is the “third gender”.

Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, not a gender.

2. A homosexual person is “half man half woman” biologically or homosexuality is caused by the “gay gene”.

There is no scientific evidence to support this statement.

3. If someone is homosexual, he automatically wants to wear a dress and a wig, put on makeup, or even transition his gender.

The way we dress and act is telling more about our personality rather than our sexual orientation. Not all gay men are feminine.

As we also have pointed out, gender and homosexuality (sexual orientation) are not the same things.

If someone identifies himself as a gay man, which means he is a man biologically and attracted to the other men, it doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to transition his gender.

4. All gay men are attracted to straight men.

Gay people have their own types too, just like everyone else. So just because someone is gay doesn’t mean he will hit on other straight men.

5. Homosexuality is a choice and a trend because there are many more people who identify as gay these days.

Homosexuality has been existing for a very long time.

Homosexual people at that time were not fully aware of what sexual orientation was, so they just went with the flow, in which they did things were considered normal in their society.

Nowadays with the help of the media and the internet, people are connecting from all places, we are sharing and listening to each other’s stories.

Just like everyone else, I stop doubting my true emotions and be more open to myself about my own sexual feelings.

6. Homosexuality is unnatural and bad for evolution because homosexual people couldn’t reproduce.

The only unnatural things are the things you don’t want them to be natural.

In fact, homosexual behaviors are found in many other species too, not only in humans.

We don’t criticize infertile people or people who don’t want to have babies for not procreating then why do we hate homosexual people for the same reason?

From my perspective, homosexuality is a necessary tendency of natural selection considering the overpopulation.

Final thoughts

I know Vietnam is not a homophobic country.

We are the people who are willing to learn and understand things.

I am also strongly confident, one day soon.

We will legalize gay marriage in our country when more people get to be aware of what it means to be gay.

I don’t feel unlucky to be gay.

Being gay is one of my most favorite things about me.

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