How hard is it to come out in the Philippines?

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Five individuals share their coming-out stories, showing that even in times like these, which are generally more accepting of the LGBTQ community, coming out remains an important rite of passage in the realization and establishment of one’s identity.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Each of us has a coming-out story. We’ve all had a moment in our lives wherein we felt the need or were otherwise forced to reveal an undebatable truth about ourselves. And for members of the LGBTQ community, coming out is most often described as the resolution to their struggle to form their identity as a person — with their lives often marked by the markers “before I came out” and “after I came out.”

In a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines, the difficulty of coming out is magnified by religious influence and traditional family values. There is still a stigma that is attached to being identified with the LGBTQ — a culture of tolerance, not acceptance, which is why it is understandable that most Filipinos choose to keep this part of their identities to themselves.

As part of our Pride Issue, CNN Philippines Life asked five individuals — Petersen, 23; Gian, 26; Janlee, 25, Vivian, 20; and Lui, 27 — to share their coming-out stories, all of which tell us one thing: Coming out is also about the people who let you in.