As a gay Chinese woman, and a daughter of first generation immigrants, my journey coming out has been a struggle, complicated by social and cultural misalignment between my parents and myself. The recent controversy with Josephine Zhao, where both the Chinese and LGBTQ communities came seemingly to a crash, crossed an intersection that is all too familiar. Unfortunately, the conversations surrounding Josephine’s withdrawal from her school board race did not take into consideration the social context of what she and I both know – that many in the Chinese and broader immigrant community still have a long way to go to accept people who love like me. The things she’s said are wrong but we should use this opportunity to bridge this gap rather than further alienating immigrant communities.
I have dedicated my life to LGBTQ activism but I’m not yet out to my entire family. Having my family’s love and acceptance has been a challenge because my coming out is a coming out for them as well. This is further underscored by the difficulty I’ve experienced reconciling being gay while still honoring my family name. Knowing this pain, however, drives my activism and my focus on bridging these two communities that I belong to – LGBTQ and immigrant – whose views and values can be so disparate.
When I met Josephine, we found common ground in our cultural backgrounds. My parents and I were not speaking at the time because of my sexuality. She devised a plan to guide my parents toward full acceptance. Due to her efforts and some helpful intervention from my grandmother, my relationship with my parents today has improved immensely. Instead of resenting them for struggling with my sexuality, I realized that loving my parents means giving them the time and space to progress in their beliefs. Others deserve our patience too.Read more