Celebrating Pride 2023! Jeffery Huynh, Engel & Völkers Houston
Celebrating Pride 2023!
Pride allowed me to open up and be my true self.
By Jeffery Huynh (he/him)
Real Estate Advisor, Engel & Völkers Houston
“Pride is about allowing others an opportunity to be themselves by being the truest version of ourselves.”
As part of the Chamber’s Pride Month celebration, we are profiling Chamber Leaders and Members to share their perspectives on what Pride means to them.
June is here which means it’s time to celebrate Pride Month. When I came out, I was 20 years old. I am 38 and have been living in Houston for 17 years. I was very confused in High School. I started liking guys as a freshman but didn’t have anyone I could talk to. Growing up in Ft. Worth, most of my friends had very conservative families and mindsets. My family was a conservative Hispanic household. We weren’t really religious, but my parents liked to use the Bible when it was convenient for them. Mainly we just celebrated Christmas and Easter. I didn’t have anyone I could bounce ideas off of for thoughts or feelings I was going through. I just knew everyone around me thought being Gay was not right, so in my mind obviously having these thoughts was just wrong. I didn’t want to make anyone upset so I just suffered in silence. It got to the point where everything would just continue to weigh on me.
I would hear kids say “That’s gay,” when something negative or bad happened. I took these words and internalized gay as being something wrong. My parents would watch shows and get mad any time anything gay was hinted at in their program. Each time it felt as though they were saying it to me directly. Scolding me for something I had no control over. I struggled with this, internalized it, and just became quiet and depressed for almost all my time through High School. This became my normal and I just put up with it. I kept trying to do what I thought everyone wanted because I knew being homosexual would not be something my parents would accept. I dated girls. Didn’t do anything except hold hands. Would make sure not to play as girl characters in video games because I didn’t want anyone analyzing if my choice of fighter was too fruity. I would even stick to mainly black shirts and blue jeans because I didn’t want my masculinity to come into question. I would analyze everything I was doing to make sure it didn’t come off as too queer. Keeping up this act day in, day out was exhausting.
When I turned 20 I couldn’t take it anymore. One day my mom was watching some trash reality tv show with my sister and one of the characters had just come out as gay. To herself she said, “I don’t know what I would do if one of my children were gay.” I had put up with this for too long and this was the last straw. My voice was shaking. My body was trembling. My hand clenched in a fist. For the first time I didn’t think about filtering myself and just blurted out “Well, you might want to figure it out,” and went to my room. My mom came to talk with me shortly after of course. “Jeffery, what did you mean when you said that out there?” I didn’t even try to hide it. “I’m gay,” I told her. She tried to tell me God doesn’t like that. If this gets out, I’ll break my grandma's heart. Think about how this is going to affect your brother and sister. Ideas I had already thought of countless times over the years. It didn’t matter anymore. “I’m sorry. I’m gay.” After saying that she talked with my dad that night. Over the next week we would have argument after argument ultimately with me being kicked out of the house.
It’s right here most would feel bad for me. I was just kicked out and devastated. I had grown up being taught that family is everything and will always be there for you. And my parents had just discarded me. I had no money. No car. No job. Feeling abandoned, unloved and damaged. Even with all of that I still felt like things were going to be ok. Yes, I was dealing with the immediate problems of where am I going to sleep? How am I going to eat? But I wasn’t hiding any more. I had accepted I was gay. For the first time in my life, it seemed like I could finally start being me.
So what does any of this have to do with Pride? To this day I still remember what it was like getting kicked out and my feelings leading up to it. It was distressing and lonely. I experienced all of this by myself, and it wasn’t until I met my future husband, Paul Huynh, that I was able to start working on it. He loved me unconditionally. He accepted me for me. He had compassion for what I had gone through. Paul took me to my first Pride. Coming from Ft. Worth, life in Houston was night and day compared to how I grew up. There was a whole community that loved and supported each other. I don’t remember everything they said but a very sweet drag queen came up and complimented both of us and let us get a picture with her that night. She gave us hugs and told us to have a Happy Pride. It felt amazing to have people tell me I was loved and perfect just the way I was. We all had our own stories and hardships we had gone through and used those experiences to lift each other up and let them know there is nothing wrong with them. That they are just the way they are supposed to be. Pride is about allowing others an opportunity to be themselves by being the truest version of ourselves. It helps create that sense of community so you can create your own chosen family that will be there for you.
I’m so glad Paul and I have over the years been able to choose who we want in our family. My favorite Pride event happened on June 26th, 2015. Living in Texas we just assumed we would never be able to get married. It was something we had talked about and wanted to do but knew it would never be recognized in Texas. That morning the Supreme Court announced all states must license and recognize Same-Sex Marriage. I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I heard I went to a private room and called Paul. We couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. We could finally get married and share our love with the people who mattered to us. That weekend was the best Pride weekend I had ever experienced. We shouted at the top of our lungs with all of the Houston Gaymers and anyone that stopped by our booth during the festival. We walked the parade holding hands with our closest friends feeling overwhelming joy. We finally felt like we were being accepted. We wasted no time and got married in December that same year.
That is why Pride is so important. Pride allowed me to open up and be my true self. Every Pride event I went to was one more opportunity to realize my parents were wrong. There is nothing wrong with me, I’ve done nothing wrong, and that I need to be available to those who need someone to talk to. We all have our own story and experiences we have been through. Pride is a new opportunity to listen to another member of the LGBTQ+ community and help them find a place where they are loved and accepted. This year as you gear up for all the events, celebrate you, your friends, and your chosen family. You are loved and perfect just the way you are and don’t have to change anything about yourself.
Learn more about Jeffery at https://houston.evrealestate.com/bio/JefferyHuynh.
Learn more about Engel & Völkers at https://houston.evrealestate.com/