A Coming-Out Story for the Ages

A noteworthy series of essays at Salon.com, grouped under the heading “Pariah Personals” and inspired by the film Pariah, draws to a close today with an entry from Prumsodun Ok (pictured). The Cambodian-born Long Beach resident is an artist, 2011 TED Fellow and executive editor of VoiceWaves, a youth-focused journalism project of New American Media.

Ok details a furious argument with his sister, which led him to pick up the phone, call his 80ish dad in Cambodia and finally come out. All seemed to work out fine, but later, Ok discovered the dangers of waiting until that late in someone’s life to make such a declaration:

At this time, a reporter from the LA Times was interviewing me (for a story that never ran). She wanted to speak with my father. We met at the dance studio where I was teaching. After questions about my father’s life, she asks me, “So what does your father think about your being gay?”
“Pa, she wants to know how you feel about my being gay.”
“You’re gay?”

Oh dear. “Yes, Pa, I’m gay! Don’t you remember? I was crying on the phone and I was telling you.” The reporter is obviously wondering what is going on, as both my father and I seem confused. “I’m sorry. He’s old. And he’s forgotten that I told him that I was gay,” I say to her in English.

How did this story not run in the Times? Others who participated in the Salon series include UC Berkeley media studies student Raul Rodriguez, 17-year-old Lamont, California writer-photographer Andres Garcia and San Jose editor Jean Melesaine.

[Photo courtesy VillageVoices.org]