31 January 2005

Coming Out Gay and Asian in Vancouver

Being gay and an Asian, I am very blessed. There is certainly a discussion among the gay Asians about not fitting into the Asian communities, nor into the gay communities. The gay male culture is built around the "buffed" Caucasian male: pumped biceps, beautiful body and appearance. If you don't look like the ads in the magazines, you are marginalized. You are not seen as desirable as others. This is something that some support and discussion groups want to deal with.

When we came out, Mama was teaching in Women's Studies at SFU [Simon Fraser U.]. This is not a place for the timid of heart because there are women who either have been involved in feminism, are lesbians and out of hiding, or militant! Father is a notary public and has an office in downtown Vancouver. He had been notarizing domestic partnership agreements for a long time. I was twenty-six, and Andy, my little brother, was nineteen. He was attending Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. He had heard that people in Vancouver were spreading word about him being gay. He decided that Mom and Dad would hear about his being gay from him first instead of someone else. He wrote to them saying that he had something important to share with them the next week. And they said, "O god, he is going to quit school and become a poet!" In a separate note to me, Andy gave me warning that he couldn't keep it a secret any longer and he would have to tell them.

We don't necessarily consider siblings as sexual beings. He guessed it about me, but I hadn't a clue about him! We weren't as close as we are now. I called him saying, "I know I cannot tell you not to write the letter. But you realize that it is going to be a package deal." He replied that he knew but he had to tell them. He wrote his letter and it arrived. I knew it was coming, and I just stayed out late that evening with some friends. Went home and it was there. I penned my own letter and left it. The next day, my parents went out, so we didn't talk about it until much later in the day. They said, "Well, we sort of guessed about you, but we never guessed about him. Perhaps a little bit about him."

It was tough for my parents, harder than they let on. But they have been supportive always.
SOURCE: "Pomelo," by Walter Keoki Quan, in Being Chinese: Voices from the Diaspora, by Wei Djao (U. Arizona Press, 2003), pp. 92-93

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