It’s hard to grow up in a community that hates anything “different”, especially if you are different in more than one way. If your ethnicity and queer identity combine to make you an outlier, you might worry that you’ll never be able to live honestly and happily. 

I grew up struggling to overcome the clash between my cultural and personal identity. I’m in my early 20s and I’ve accepted that I might not ever come out to my family. Why? Because having to explain my gender identity and sexuality would be like talking to a religious brick wall. 

But, I do feel like I’m mentally in a place of acceptance that twelve year old me yearns for. I grew up with people who are similar, and I’ve grown to love my queer identity and Asian heritage. 

So, in case you’re at a loss of what to do, here’s my answer, as a minority within a minority. 

Realizing you’re an outlier

Outlier is a term that you usually see associated with math classes. But in my experience, I am an outlier when I stand out from the rest of my social groups. I am an outlier as an Asian-American because I do not know many Asians who aren’t cishet. Similarly, I am an outlier in the LGBT community because I am Asian. 

There are times where being an outlier is good, like avoiding a hype train or ignoring FOMO. But in most cases, no one wants to be the black sheep or the one bad apple. 

How I came to realize I was an outlier

I grew up thinking all gay people go to hell and I’d marry and have a Catholic family with him. My family went to a Catholic grotto a state away every day to pray that their miracle child can live. If I had no friends, my parents said that Jesus would always have my back. 

I went to a catholic school that pointed and laughed at me in the bus before making “ching chong” jokes. This is the same school who said I was lesbian to make me look even more like a weirdo. My white best friend told me that I was going through a phase when I came out to her. She also made fun of my Vietnamese name because it sounded weird.

As I grew older, I did eventually want to come out to more people. But when I told my cousin about my crush on an online frirend,she outed me to my other cousins. When I told her about my pronouns, she told me that she’s a grammar freak and she wouldn’t use them. 

Thinking that even my cousins were not going to accept me for who I was, I felt more anxious. With family traditions over me and no one accepting me because I’m a queer Asian kid, I was alone.

Being an outlier in your family due to queer identity

Being a minority is already hard, but it’s harder when you are an outlier in a minority group. With traditions having a large role in Asian culture, I struggled it came to living peacefully in suppose safe spaces. And others did, as well.

University student Gee Concepcion told me of experiences that I was able to relate to during our short interview. “Even before I knew I was queer, I was very secretive around my parents. I was always open-minded and accepting of the lgbtq community. But my parents had very prejudiced values against those who were nongender conforming or not straight.” 

As Concepcion grew older and went to church every Sunday, they continued to have concerns over their safety. This is specifically because their pastor’s opinions were very conservative against the LGBT community. “Every Sunday, the thought would always cross my mind: ‘If I told anyone that I had a girlfriend, what would they do?’” 

Being a minority in the LGBTQ+ community

While talking about our childhoods, Concepcion was also unable to relate to her other, non-Asian gay friends. “My lack of discovery of those like me affected my mindset on coming out or living as a queer person,” they said. “[My closest friends’] more free open-minded stance on coming out and accepting yourself really contrasted what I had known.” 

When interviewing Rami Rolfe, a Black nonbinary lesbian student, they explained how their childhood differed. “When I was first discovering I was queer, I was in my public and quite ghetto middle school. So my friend group was very diverse and a lot of my friends were POC.” I was beginning to feel a little jealous, but they went on to state that this environment did not last. “When I moved into high school was when I went to a place with more emphasis on Christianity. So literally everyone was white, which definitely was a different experience. It was harder to relate to rich white kids that didn’t really have the same problems and backgrounds as me.” 

Being an outlier in almost every aspect of your cultural identity is rough. When growing up around ideals that go against everything, it feels like no one would be able to understand you. But I and my interviewees talked about our past here, meaning that there are things that get better from here. 

How to love yourself when your groups don’t

We just went through a whole lot of sadness and frustration. With such crippling thoughts, it can feel as though that life cannot get any better from here. 

Growing up knowing I was going against everything I knew, I felt as though I’d be completely alone. I couldn’t help but hate myself for being different to everyone around me. 

But my situation got better. I don’t think it’s because I got a therapist later, but because I learned how to work with self-acceptance. 

How I learned to move forward

Before I even figured my gay and trans queer identity, I was already struggling to make friends in real life. In hopes that I’d get some friends, I went online via Tumblr to try from there. Through that site, I learned more about my queer identity. I had a crush on an online friend who is not a man. I realized later that I didn’t like being a girl. So while social media is not exactly the best, I would’ve been in the dark if I didn’t have access. 

Later on in real life, I took the leap from Catholic primary schools to a public high school. One pro is besides paying less, public schools have more people with different backgrounds. That means there’d be more people like me: gay people. Not all friend groups were perfect, but I met people who made me feel comfortable being nonbinary and Asian. And when I got into university, I met even more nonwhite, queer friends. I was finally able to meet other Asian queer people in real life! I now have nine friends who are Asian and queer like me instead of zero. 

How others moved forward

Agender Viet student Kim Ngo agreed that they were able to accept and feel comfortable expressing themselves in college. While they came to terms with their labels in high school, Ngo began to dress androgynously because of university friends. “There wasn’t as many people like me growing up. It was just either you were gay, lesbian, bi, or just moreso focused on sexual identity instead of queer identity. When I was [applying for] college and saw the pronoun option, I was like ‘That’s something they worry about. Interesting.’” Because of their change in style, they feel more relaxed knowing they’re obligated to explain their gender identity to others. 

Laboratory technician Angel Moreno, in the other case, came to terms with his queer identity much earlier on. As a White-Latino with a small queer community, he accepted that he was gay at the age of 14. However, he did not let it define him and the core of his personality. “I am proud of who I am as an individual based on my actions, achievements, and goals,” he stated confidently. “However, being gay plays a small role in it.”

Accept your situation may not be perfect

What you define as “the best thing you’ll ever have” one minute can change at any time. 

While I met more queer people in high school, some told me that I wasn’t really a minority. Why? They said this because Asian fetishes exist – as if Asians do not face physical racist harrasments because of sexual stereotypes.  A few of my nonbinary friends used to take jabs at me because I dressed more feminine than androgynous. Even to this day, I have to excuse people misgendering me because I hate confronting people.

There are times where safe spaces aren’t exactly the safest place you can be. When talking about the LGBT community when he first came across it, Moreno did not exactly have very high opinions. “The queer community I found in my college years focused on what felt like a sexually driven agenda,” he says. “At the same time, they provided information regarding gay sexual education and an ideal place for anyone to be themselves. Sadly, the cons outweighed the pros, so I steered clear of them for the most part.” 

Being an outlier can obviously be difficult when facing people’s ignorance. But because I am meeting more people while the world is changing, I had to learn to be optimistic. I had to believe that the older I’ll get, the more comfortable I’ll be. 


I acknowledge that my circumstances are luckier than some. I’ve faced bullies and microaggressions growing up, but I realize there are people in another country who has experienced worse. Taiwan, out of Asia as a whole, is the one country that has legalized gay marriage. There are teenagers who face abuse or are kicked out because of their queer identity. I’m able to afford a therapist who helps me heal, while others struggle to find a job that accepts them. 

But for every outcast, I believe that there’ll be a family that they can rely on later on in life. It took me twenty years to be able to meet queer Asian people, let alone a partner who is both. 

After years of feeling like no one would be able to understand me, I’m at a very happy point. It’s a reality that the middle schooler in Catholic school would be happy to have. I’d be glad to let them know they have a future to look forward to now. 

I hope, one day, that will apply to you, too.