I was a bit exasperated at my progress at preparing for this impending exam, so Grant (click HERE for his blog) caught me at a vulnerable point and convinced me to do something I wouldn’t normally do – I went for my first Gay Asian and Proud meeting.
Gay Asian Proud is an initiative run by the Victorian Aids Council to support ethnically Asian gay males and their partners or people attracted to Asians (which I assume to be Rice Queens). They were joined today for Yumcha by their sister group, the Yellow Kitties – which makes me think we should’ve been called Golden Roosters or something similarly
cheesy tongue-in-cheek. I would’ve even suggested ‘Sunset Cockatoos’ or ‘Topaz Peacocks’… though the names would, presumably, be far too intimidating – ‘Golden Roosters’ ain’t too bad though. It has a ring to it that is similar to ‘New Gold Mountain’ – one of my favourite bars – and named after the Chinese name for Melbourne following the decline in the Californian gold rush.
I find myself often reluctant to attend such meetings (and Grant could probably tell you of the number of times I’ve declined his invitation) because I think it’s a bit too strange to partition my life into Asian and non-Asian… sure, a casual glance at my Facebook friends list will yield a greater percentage of Asians in my life (I did grow up in Asia), but I am not quite sure whether I’d contrive to meet people who were only of a certain background or persuasion… no, that’s not true, I have found myself at an Asian gay night on quite a few occasions, so perhaps it’s admitting it while the sun is up that is my issue…. hm.
So Grant came over to my place so we could walk over to the restaurant together, and it’s been a while since we caught up (he came to my wedding in April) and we bumped into each other on Lonsdale Street a month back – but we’ve both been caught up with things (in fact, I hardly think blogging on the eve of the eve of a killer exam paper is my smartest move). And having experienced the session first hand, I have to say – I really think it’s a great group. It’s non-intimidating, the people are immensely friendly, and I found the experience very pleasant. I did find the $40 per person for yumcha an absolute rip-off. The venue could’ve been better chosen, and in this regard, I think it may work against the group. For that amount of money, you could dine quite nicely in venues with much better food – and I think it’d be a bit of a barrier to entry for overseas students (presumably their target group?).
Right at the end of the session, a guy comes up to me and says, ‘Congratulations! I thought the photos of your wedding were beautiful’… and for a moment, I wondered if he was one of you guys – a reader (yes, my long-suffering, and neglected readers). But it turns out he had recognised me from the article on Fridae. and the article in SameSame. We had been approached by Samesame after they saw our wedding video, and after we did that interview, Nic said we should contact Fridae to share our story with our gAysian community. The brilliant thing about the interview with Fridae is that it was with a junior from my secondary school in Singapore – so there was quite a roundness to how things clicked into place. And it’s been good, we’ve had around 17,000 views on the video.
The strange thing about this coming up was that it raised that question of my ethnic identity again. It was me, being Asian and Gay. The primary driver for sharing the video was to really say to our community: hey, you do realise that some of your sons and daughters are gay and lesbian and transgendered – and why aren’t you being more vocal about this? Yes, it’s a very Asian thing to immigrate and then try and keep your voice soft and your heads down – but you miss so much of what’s happening, and chance to be part of this history. And I feel like we’re so ready to move beyond what we’ve been for so long.
So I was asked again the question – and this has come up quite a few times -
Why do the ceremony and ‘get married’ in Melbourne where there is no legal recognition?
And again the initial answer was (and has always been) very simple: the ceremony is for us – very selfishly, it’s for us. I love Melbourne. I was born here and though I struggled when I first returned to Australia, in the intervening years, I can think of no other place I’d rather be. And so it had to be here. And we were extremely fortunate for the generosity of people who came. There was always a plan to head to Vancouver to formalise it, but now I’m not sure that’s necessary.
But asked this question again, today… I had the chance to reflect on what came after the wedding: Nic was very excited about the video we had created with our videographer, Shushan, and had wanted to share it with as many people as possible. For me, I thought, okay, this opens us up to criticism and to backlash…
I think I have an answer to the question that I’d like to run past you all, particularly as so many of us are marching for Marriage Equality today:
This ceremony was our Rosa Parks moment. Nic and I are resisting this nonsensical separation – between different-sex marriage and same-sex marriage. We are resisting this evil and mindless use of the word ‘Family’ – a word that is so disgustingly politicised so that it immediately positions my parents on the backfoot to have to defend themselves as great, great parents; that says whatever way I choose to live my life is so much less worthy of the wholesomeness that is attached to the word; that says I need to sit at a different section of the ‘Family’ bus. And to this I say, I’m Asian – I come from a culture that revels in its familial ties, and my culture has created a person like me, and my family is with me. So when you say Family First, I say, ‘Thank you very much. Now sit your ass down and let my family and I tell you what we want. Don’t speak for me’.
I want to get married and I did get married.
Now watch me jump for joy.