China Girls Abroad

Girls at Gay Pride in Glasgow, 2012I was born and raised in the West, but my parents are Chinese. And I am gay. I guess you can see the contradictory picture…

Despite my friends being very supportive and accepting of who I am, both my parents found it quite hard (and they still do) to accept my sexual identity. Having being brought up in small towns and villages, they both make a negative association to what is gay.

The afternoon I came out to my mom, we were driving home from school, and were having one of those heated arguments that a teenager has with a parent, where your parent never seems to understand you enough. When I said (or screamed): “I AM GAY!” the heat in the air suddenly vanished, the war atmosphere cleared out and pure silence took over for about 10 minutes. Yeah… She needed some time to process it… Those three words together must have been hard to understand, especially for a Chinese mother! Then, just when I thought that I’d finally got peace, she started asking a million questions about this gay friend I had, how he knew he was gay, how his mother reacted, but nothing – not a word – about my sexuality. I guess she couldn’t take it! She basically ignored my statement because she didn’t want to accept it. She tried to erase that sentence from her memory – and she sure tried very hard! – But she never managed. And even today, she either jokes about it in a slightly mean way or she provokes me. She once made me cry because I defended who I am, and she still thinks that being gay is wrong.

Gay Pride in Glasgow, 2012Just like my mom, my dad’s opinion about homosexuality isn’t very positive either. With him, the experience coming out was even more intense – so harsh that I don’t even know how I managed! I was clearly clueless and very naive to think that any of them would ever accept it at first! We were driving down south to visit some relatives, again, in a car – I don’t know what it is with cars and coming out to parents!... The air was silent for a long time, because I wasn’t very close to him. So, I thought, to build a relationship with my dad, I would initiate a conversation with him, revealing something about myself, which seemed to be a completely normal thought. So, after some moments of intense thinking, and perhaps a little bit of anxiety (yes, I was worried about what he would say!), I gained courage and I started off by saying: “Dad, I’m gay.” And from there, there was no more silent time until the end of the day – words of criticism, offense and disappointment and negative emotions filled the air instead. We argued about everything and anything, even things that were not even related to my sexuality – I guess, just like my mom, his approach to this issue was very Chinese, very indirect and very avoidant. The disputes were extreme and almost verbally aggressive. I’m generally not a crier, but that night, I cried so hard and so loud that probably the whole building heard my screams. Physiologically, it felt like an uncontrollable force was pushing my chest and my whole body was negatively charged. Emotionally, it was devastating, it felt like my tears of sadness and anger were endless and my suffering infinite. It was…as if all the negative emotions that I would feel in a year were condensed and released in that one evening… And it certainly caused confusion, disappointment and distress in him as well. Dad has NEVER ever talked to me about it again. I guess he tried to erase it from his memory too. And he seems to manage it well – he never talks about it, neither do I.

Despite all my sorrow, I guess it was even more of a disappointment for my parents. My dad said I should go to the doctor (I’m not joking! He did!) and be interned in a mental hospital, because this is a disease (“这样不可以的!”). And my mom tried to exert psychological control through expressions like “Please don’t disappoint your mother!”, “You are so good-looking, so talented, so mature…except that you’re gay!” I understand why they can’t tolerate that I am gay. They were raised in a society where “gay” was never mentioned and obviously never embraced. The truth is that most Gay people in China either hide their sexuality or cover it by getting married, and Chinese people would rather not ask when it’s not necessary. So homosexuality was never really discovered or discussed properly. They think gay is wrong or even immoral. A potential reason is that they want grandchildren to carry on the family blood or surname. This traditional belief makes it very hard to change their mind. It is a mentality that is almost hard-wired into their system.

Gay Pride in Glasgow, 2012So I guess, to be born and to live under a strict regime of a communist system, and to be gay, must be tough! Luckily for me, I live in the UK. I CAN BE GAY, because what is socially unacceptable in China is socially acceptable in the UK, and what is ignored in China is tolerated in the UK. I am very thankful for that! At least outside my parents’ awareness, I can live the way I want (they’re slightly ignorant anyways, with no offense). I accept that they don’t accept me as a gay child, but despite that, I will not stop being who I am just because they would like me to change. Not that sexuality is of my choice, but even if it were, it would be entirely my choice and my freedom, not theirs. I know I have been westernized, because a Chinese child would always do what their parents want, given their moral and cultural beliefs. In this sense, I take this opposition as a challenge – I will still stand here as I do now in 10, 20, 30 years time, regardless of what they say or think, because I know I’ve done nothing wrong and I know it’s okay to be who I am.

Homosexuality is probably a topic that my parents will never fully understand. But I do believe that they love me with their deepest heart. They simply misconceive what “gay” means and they don’t understand that it’s okay to be gay. However, if love is unconditional and infinite I believe one day they will accept this part of me, even if they don’t fully understand it.



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