School is out. Now all that stands between me and unemployment are tacky robes that won’t grant me invisibility; a scroll that will make me look like a fool trying to summon a frog out of; and a hat that is not a throwable spinning weapon a la Kung Lau. But I am enjoying the long-awaited freedom, and thus, I’m back to blogging.
Last night I was catching up with my sister in Hong Kong and she told me an interesting story about my somewhat traditional parents. They’re not racist…for the most part, but they do react questionably especially when it comes to homosexuality. The conversation between my sister and I began with school, work, and inevitably relationships. Then it lead to her telling me about this situation she had with our parents (I’ve cleaned up some of the net-speak, apologies Sis):
The parents and the sister are watching TV in the living room. A local Hong Kong variety show was on, with a flashy and arguably flamboyant male host.
(in Cantonese) Ugh, look how gay he looks.
(The translation may not do my mother justice, it’s a little closer to “he’s gay to this extent”)
Sister gets annoyed with the remark.
Hey mom, what if I told you Phil was gay?
Mother reacts with wide eyes and becomes pale.
Hahaha! You really shouldn’t say these things to your paranoid mother!
If he was, would you not love him like you do now?
Of course we will!
Unlike Dad who responded immediately, Mom hesitated…
As if the story wasn’t funny enough, my sister then went on to say something that knocked me off my chair in laughter – “so if you want to be loved, you can’t be gay my dear : )”
Now in my parent’s defense, they grew up in a different time…that’s all I got to be honest. But what struck me most was the reversal in gender stereotypes. In a typical North American Caucasian family, especially those portrayed in television and movies, shows the father who almost always has the most problems with accepting a gay son. In my parent’s case, it seems my mother would be pale for the rest of her life if I were gay.
Sometimes my siblings and I joke about how one holiday we should all bring home partners of the same sex who have dark skin to meet them. But to prevent any chance of heart attacks and strokes (knock on wood), we’ll refrain from having that elaborate prank materialize.
I have know this about my parents for a while now and it never fails to surprise me. They reside in Hong Kong where, due to influences of other Asian cultures and popular media, many young people you see often dress or appear “gay”. They are surrounded daily by these challenges to traditional gender roles. On top of that, all of my parent’s children are students of the arts, one of whom studied in one of the most notably gay art schools in the US. If nothing else, they should be prepared to brace themselves if one of their children turned out to be gay.
I don’t have a real conclusion here, except to find the humor in the conversation I had with my sister. Also, if you are Asian and you do have trouble with your sexuality, especially with parents, find someone who has been through similar experiences. It doesn’t hurt to talk.
Take the time to watch this inspiring monologue by Craig Ferguson. Try to watch the whole thing, but my main point starts at 4:45 and goes on until the end.
Sir Ferguson talks about alcoholism and his own life story, but his advice can be easily translated into problems with sexuality. Just talk to someone. Someone who has been through something similar. “It doesn’t cost a thing” to talk. I hope this helps in some way.
Mom and Dad, we still love you. Even if you hate us.