I want to paint a different picture of Asian parents, from my recent experience.
I was born in Bangkok, Thailand. I came to study for my PhD in New Zealand in 2008, when I was 32. My parents came to visit me in New Zealand last year. We toured around the South Island with my partner, whom they always knew as my ‘close friend’. After a trip around the South, the last destination was the city I was living in with my partner. He and I had been worried about this moment for the whole trip, and we’d rehearsed possible (and, perhaps, ridiculous) answers we would give as to why we shared a bedroom (eg. We want to have one room as our office; It saves money to buy just one bed; It’s warmer in winter; It is acceptable in New Zealand culture for men to share a bed – yeah right).
The first day at home, after a house tour, my Mum didn’t hesitate to ask why I didn’t have my own bedroom (when we had a two bedroom flat). I avoided her questions by changing the subject. But she kept asking me again and again. She also asked my partner what this word ‘queer’ was, which was on posters at our house, he awkwardly mumbled some response that it was about ‘diversity’. The second morning she was still asking me why we shared a room, I walked to the kitchen to avoid answering her question again. From the kitchen I overheard her talking with my Dad: “Why doesn’t he answer my questions?”
It took me longer than usual to make breakfast for them. My partner was still asleep in our bedroom. I decided this would be the day. I sat and had breakfast with them quietly. When we finished our breakfast I told them I had something to say. I told them, my ‘close’ friend is actually my partner. We live together. We love each other. And we plan to live together in the future. I remember my mum stood up, and surprisingly, she hugged me. She said she loves me, whoever I am, and more importantly, she loves my partner, as I had often told her how good a ‘friend’ he was to me. At this moment my partner walked into the room. He didn’t know quite what had happened earlier, but he knew something was up. My Mum went over to hug him and she said “You are my son too!” My dad said he wanted us to come back home to Thailand and live together with them. They want to build us a new house next to theirs. They want us to be happy, together. I was stunned, and teary. I didn’t expect my parents to be so cool and supportive about my coming out. I often imagined the bad scenarios and what my response would be if they told me to fuck off.
I’d often heard from my Asian friends stories about how their parents were freaked out about their kids coming out. My experience was different. I want to emphasise that there are Asian parents who are accepting of their kids, Asian parents who love their kids unconditionally, those who wish their kids to be happy whoever they are and with whomever they love.
I am fortunate to be the kid of parents like this.