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These were the people I loved. They said "Chink" and they said "faggot."
October 9, 2013 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Why I Stay Closeted In Asia (SLBF)
I denied it, as my father and sister begged me to.

I couldn't exaggerate to you how much my mother's face lit up, or how much I wanted, for a shameful second, for my lie to be true. I began to tell her a story, got into the groove, told it with what could be called pizzazz, or maybe just mercy. A monthlong fling with a Korean girl became a year ("I liked her; she had a cocaine problem"). Immediately she laughed with relief.

"I wouldn't know how to deal if you were, you know, that" she said.
posted by yeoz (25 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
I kept waiting for it to end happy and it just didn't.
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm still waiting for a happy ending with my own chinese parents. I'm not sure there is one.
posted by yeoz at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Gaaaaah heartbreaking to the bitter end. I went on a date with a dude the other day who's thinking of teaching in Korea next year and has been advised to NEVER SPEAK OF THIS and claim to have a fiancée back home waiting.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2013


Great essay.
posted by Diablevert at 9:51 AM on October 9, 2013


Mom and dad are too old to move to Maui and start life anew. They’d committed a lifetime to making shitty conservative friends, having stunted conservative relatives.

Ouch. That was brutal but very incisive.
posted by benzenedream at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never set out in life to beg for anyone’s tolerance. I didn’t need that. I wanted admiration

God yeah. It is drilled into Asian kids that it's not acceptable to just do well - but that you must fucking absolutely nail it. Be beyond reproach or any sort of criticism. Being gay negates any sort of achievement you may have in your life - you will always be flawed, deficient, and shameful. Did this article hit home for me personally? Yeah - right through my heart.
posted by helmutdog at 9:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


It would be another year until I learned that my mother, foul language notwithstanding, was actually the less bigoted parent. Both of them would come to accept me in time, but right then, I wondered if they’d ever become decent.

About as happy an ending as can be hoped for, sometimes.

This story hit me right in the feels too, though I can't relate to it directly because I'm straight. But damn I've heard some super shitty racist, sexist, homophobic stuff out of my parents' mouths.
posted by kmz at 10:09 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not Asian or gay, but the humanity is enough. (I can only imagine how much it would be magnified if I were Asian or gay.) It certainly doesn't hurt his cause that the author is a hell of a writer.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:12 AM on October 9, 2013


The father's reaction, the trawling of the healthcare information and the darker places science has been for hope, is something I see too much of already though thankfully from non-family.

What a lack of awareness on the part of the father.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:21 AM on October 9, 2013


I remember being at an Indian get-together with my family when I was a teenager and walking by the kitchen just in time to hear a conversation about homosexuality in the children and my mother say, "Well, if he's ever that way, we'll disown him instantly."

My family dynamics at that time were such that, for a kind of wild moment, I desperately wished I were gay. But that's because I'm not. I don't know how I would have felt if I had been, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have felt relief.
posted by Errant at 10:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The father's reaction, the trawling of the healthcare information and the darker places science has been for hope, is something I see too much of already though thankfully from non-family.

Co-sign. Christ. The last few paragraphs are perfectly devastating.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:45 AM on October 9, 2013


Also this is the best thing I have ever read on Buzzfeed. I actually did a double take at the URL.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


God yeah. It is drilled into Asian kids that it's not acceptable to just do well - but that you must fucking absolutely nail it. Be beyond reproach or any sort of criticism.

Yeah, but you'll never be beyond reproach. That's the whole Sisyphean nature of it. It's always gona be something that gets dragged up and called out. It's either your grades, your school, your friends, your dates, your career, your marriage, your house, your car, your kids, your health etc. For me, it took a long time to realize that, and I'm slowly learning just to stop caring and live my life. But that sometimes means I also gotta tell myself to shut up too. Even now, reading about him maybe getting an MBA, I think to myself, "Damn, maybe I should just buckle down and get an MBA like my parents want me too."

But, that's not me.
posted by FJT at 1:12 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I remember my studies correctly (e.g. Louis Crompton ... a lot of interpretation was needed) the homophobic attitudes are not indigenous to the Orient. This disease was picked up from Euros in the 19th-century.

It'd be good to find out how accurate that is, and having that conversation might be worth it.
posted by Twang at 3:45 PM on October 9, 2013


homophobic attitudes are not indigenous to the Orient

Asia is a continent. Attitudes vary widely.
posted by benzenedream at 4:55 PM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I know Asian parents who disowned their kid for daring to not go pre-med. Gay is so far beyond the pale that it doesn't even compute.
disclaimer: I am not Chinese but my wife says I "converted." To her this is apparently hysterically funny.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:31 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for sharing this. Coming out to my parents was difficult, but nothing like this.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:51 PM on October 9, 2013


I'm just going to leave this here. Man, this hit home.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 6:26 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


All night I thought, What now? Should we move out of town?”
“I wouldn’t disown you if you were,” she said. “Not like if you married a fucking mainland Chink.”


Move out of town, because the parents literally could not save face: yep, I know my parents would do the same.

So many details that were so close to home, from the dad's overbearing journal articles under the guise of caring. And the pain of choosing to stay closeted because it's been imprinted on every Taiwanese kid that their parents' happiness is paramount, that the child most definitely must be the martyr in this situation.

And then to top if off, the ugly line about the mainlander....well, that's how I knew he was my mom's tribe of Taiwanese, and when I started to wonder if the OP was actually a family member!
posted by honey badger at 9:14 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'm glad that it seems like he did ultimately have a happy ending. The writing was excellent, and it expressed so well the messiness of generational & cultural gaps. It's probably why I envy grown adults who are actually friends with their parents.
posted by honey badger at 9:21 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds extremely close to what some of my friends here in Singapore go through with their parents. (Actually, what I heard was even worse "pressure" from parents; I don't want to go into details here obviously, but suffice it to say that I personally think it borders on being abusive, and should move out) It's all quite sad, really.

I'll say this though, for anyone else in a similar situation. Often times, Asian parents have this tendency to have separate views for public and private consumption; while in most cases, they would tend to appear liberal in public, but quote stereotypes in private, in many other cases, the reverse is also true: they'd talk endlessly about The Gays or The Muslims or The Whites in public, but when faced with the reality of an SO for their kids or grandkids, they turn on their charm and genuinely become warm towards them. Human emotions are strange that way.

In general though, I often believe that parents tend to become more accepting when faced with the reality of a healthy, loving relationship, rather than the notion of a boyfriend or a girlfriend. But yes, not easy, and not assured. It's hard.
posted by the cydonian at 4:03 AM on October 10, 2013


And then to top if off, the ugly line about the mainlander....well, that's how I knew he was my mom's tribe of Taiwanese, and when I started to wonder if the OP was actually a family member

Man, I find it hard to have a positive view on mainland Chinese myself. I usually try to defend Mainland China here on the Blue and argue for more nuanced views regarding China. I mean, I've lived on Mainland China and talk to Mainlanders often. But every Mainlander I've talked to has literally no doubt about Taiwan being a part of China and being okay with pointing missiles at the island. And it's hard not to take it personally, because you are fucking pointing missiles at my family!
posted by FJT at 2:03 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The author had a few remarks on reddit.
posted by yeoz at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


wow, thanks for the update.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:29 PM on October 12, 2013


Boys cry too: life in China’s gay underground
posted by yeoz at 7:46 AM on October 28, 2013


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