Growing up as a Chinese American is hard enough. The added complexities of growing up as a queer Chinese American could make the experience even more difficult. The queer Chinese community is one which not only faces the difficulties of living in a racist country, it is one which also has to survive the heterosexism blatant in patriarchal society. Through all these barriers, the stories of the queer community end up being lost, ignored, or completely erased. Our purpose in doing this project was to revive and share the unique experiences and stories of queer Chinese Americans. The stories of these individuals, and of the community in general, have been buried for far too long. We hope that in documenting these coming out experiences, people will not only acknowledge, but also appreciate, the existence of the queer Chinese American community.
Coming out is a very interesting concept. It was constructed by a society that naturally assumes everyone is straight. Anyone deviating from these constricting assumptions would have to undergo a special process of asserting, not only their sexuality, but their very existence. Many view coming out as a justification process. "Okay, I'm an ignorant heterosexist so prove yourself to me." This view totally disempowers and belittles the whole experience. Coming out is not about people having to justify and explain themselves to others. Rather, it is a process of declaring and asserting your presence as a queer individual. "Yes, see me, know me, and love me." The coming out process is very much about yourself. In a point of enlightenment, you reach an understanding of body, emotion, and self. In getting to know yourself, you break from the chains of society and gain a clearer perspective and understanding of your role in that society. People need to understand that coming out is something everyone has to go through.
Coming out is difficult because of the stigmas and stereotypes about queers prevalent in this society. People have a one-dimensional view of this very diverse community. First of all, not all queer people are sex-crazed gender freaks. Being queer is not synonymous to having an overloaded sex drive. We don't have more sex than straight folks, we just know how to do it better! Furthermore, not all gay men are necessarily flamboyant or effeminate; nor are all lesbians "butch." The diversity of personalities and characteristics are abundant within the community. We aren't any stranger than straight people, we're just more interesting. What we're trying to say is that there are a lot of stereotypes that society and mainstream education has conditioned us to believe. There is no such thing as one queer identity. Each is as individual as how we live our lives.
There are unique factors within the Chinese American community, that make coming out directly related to culture. The emphasized importance of perpetuating the family name is a challenge many gay Chinese men have to face. The thoughts of disappointing the "family" becomes an overwhelming influence on a person's decision on whether or not they should come out. The view of the "ideal" Chinese woman emulating the passivity of "Flower Drum Song," and having immobile bound feet doesn't make it any easier for Chinese lesbians. The expected gender roles within our community entraps many into living socially constructed and influenced lives. Furthermore, the "Model Minority Myth" of all Chinese Americans as meek, passive, and straight, disillusions our community into believing that one has to assimilate or accommodate in order to be Chinese American. Being queer is viewed as something that directly contradicts the essence of being a "model" Chinese American. Is a queer Chinese American a paradox? NO! Despite what popular media or traditional Chinese culture might say, there is no reason why anyone should have to choose between culture and sexuality. Sexual orientation and gender identification are very much a part of culture. By sharing these stories, we hope to show that living the life as a queer Chinese American is possible.
Through this project we wanted to accurately retell Chinese American history with the added perspective of the queer community. We chose to present our research through this site because these stories need to be shared with as many people as possible. This venue has also offered us a way of sharing our information with you in the privacy and comfort of your own space. We have included a feedback page to give you the opportunity to interact and actively engage in this project. We hope you enjoy our site!