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Man reveals coming out ‘mistake’

EDUARDO always knew he was gay.

But feeling like an outsider after moving from the Philippines to the Gold Coast with his family, the now 23-year-old never felt like he could come out — even to his best friend, Haylee.

After meeting in high school, Eduardo and Haylee were inseparable. Bonding over art and independent films, they remained friends until their first year of university before things got “shaky”.

“Moving here I was scared … and I didn’t really know what was happening,” he told news.com.au.

“I didn’t see many ethnic people at my school, it was very caucasian. I felt magnified and alone and found making friends difficult.

“I met Haylee when I was in Year 9 at High School, and while I had a group from primary school that I’d hang out with, she was the first friend I made by myself.”

As they grew up, Eduardo said he never felt in a position to tell Haylee about his sexuality. A move he said was a “mistake”.

“I didn’t feel comfortable communicating that [sexuality] to Haylee,” he said.

“I bottle things up and don’t want to burden people … I wanted to keep everything together and not have anything leak out.

“Because she was one of the first people I befriended, it’s like if I admit to her it’s admitting to myself. And if a friend can’t accept me, I can’t accept myself.”

One night at the movie theatre when he and Haylee were queuing up for tickets, he had an “internal explosion” and walked away from his best friend.

“The day I walked away, I’d had a lot of things going on with family,” he said.

“I wasn’t communicating that to her, and telling her how stressed I was. I just had an internal explosion I couldn’t deal with … and I needed to get away from everyone.”

That was the last time Eduardo saw Haylee — until he asked her to meet with him in front of cameras on SBS series, Look Me In The Eye, in an episode that will air Wednesday night.

“I was worried about letting go and finally being honest with her,” he said.

“Haylee was the right person [to tell], but the wrong time for me personally … even though in hindsight I think she knew.”

Hosted by Ray Martin, the six-part series explores what happens when two estranged people come face-to-face — without saying a word — to look each other in the eye.

Following the silence, participants are given the choice to talk or leave.

Eduardo said when he asked Haylee to appear on the show with him to rekindle their friendship, he could finally be honest with her about his sexuality.

“She was surprised to hear from me … but surprised and happy,” he said.

“She was the one that showed me the documentary that this show is based on … so it was a sign I should do it … make amends and clear things up.”

Eduardo said he had only 5 per cent doubt that Haylee wouldn’t show up for the filming, but said when they went eye-to-eye — he felt like he could tell her anything.

“I felt so light,” he said.

“Sitting there in that moment … I could tell her anything. I was nervous about it, but I wanted to show kids not to make the same mistake.”

Eduardo and Haylee’s emotional encounter will be televised in full during episode two of Look Me In The Eye on Wednesday at 8.30pm on SBS.

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