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Calgary man comes out for the third time

The Coming Out Monologues, YYC are back starting Wednesday, March 22

Bryan Sandberg will be performing at his third Coming Out Monologues YYC event on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

Elizabeth Cameron/For Metro

Bryan Sandberg will be performing at his third Coming Out Monologues YYC event on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

On Wednesday, Bryan Sandberg will grace the stage at John Dutton Theatre for this third Coming Out Monologues, YYC performance. 

“(The monologue is) a letter to my 15-year-old self, basically thanking him for everything he went through to allow me to exist,” Sandberg said.

He’s not exaggerating.

The event, now in its eighth year, was created to give LGBTQ individuals an opportunity to share their stories with an audience through artistic performance.

“Our motto is, ‘if you’ve got a story, we’ve got a stage,’” said Nolan Hill, operations manager for the Coming Out Monologues, YYC.

“Coming out can be a challenging process for a number of people, but a lot of the stories come back to resiliency,” he said.

Resilient is a good word to describe Sandberg, who said sharing his story through monologues has been an important part of his healing process.

Sandberg grew up in the Philippines and knew he was gay by his 11th birthday, but kept it a secret for years.

“I knew what was coming for me if I came out,” he said.

His parents, Pentecostal missionaries, had always been clear: homosexuality is a sin, and sinners go to hell for eternity.

The homophobic narrative in his home, community and church was so strong that Sandberg became convinced it would be better to die rather than be gay and alive.

“I was convinced I was so evil, because I was gay, that it would be better for me to kill myself so I didn’t have to put that on society – that was the level of homophobia in my community,” he said.

He thought often of suicide, to the point that it was inevitable unless he found a way to escape.

“I had to get out of that house so I wouldn’t hurt myself,” he said. 

At 15, he told his parents the truth. Predictably, their reaction wasn’t good.

“I felt like if my parents could have returned me to the kid store and exchanged me for a straight kid, they would have,” Sandberg said. 

He held onto a small glimmer of hope that things would change – which they did – after he came to Canada for university.

“I knew that if I just held on, there was a life that would be waiting for me that would be worth not dying for,” he said.

Sandberg said he walks away grateful every time he watches a fellow performer deliver a monologue.

“People don’t hear enough narratives about the LGBTQ community … We’re real people who move, breathe, and live inside of this world, and this is what’s happening to us, and we want to share that with you,” he said.

The Coming Out Monologues, YYC take centre stage at the John Dutton Theatre from Wednesday, March 22 until Friday, March 24.

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