It’s been ten years, since I was the object of international media scrutiny when my father in his infinite craziness tried to buy me a husband with lots of money. Since then my life has changed. I have come to realise what it means to be a lesbian, an outspoken Lesbian in this part of the world where many people are still not completely at ease with their own minority sexuality or gender identity and find it difficult to counter the haters. I must admit, maybe I wasn’t completely at ease at the time either. I mean I’ve had boyfriends in the past, I’ve had girlfriends too, I know I like girls, is it all just a bag of hormones strangely at work wobbling my brain?
What about the effect of coming-out, is it worth it? Not just the implications for what other’s may think of me, but my family? My work colleagues and their tasteless jokes behind my back? Why would anyone in their right mind want to inflict that kind of uncertainly and scrutiny upon ourselves? My Dad trying to marry me off to a man, is just his way of handling embarrassment and shock; his dismay that I’ve not kept my sexuality a secret. People mostly frown when they’re upset, but some also do crazy things.
That was ten years ago. And while I grinned my oh-so-glamourous smiles at the media, I was actually dealing with two separately very upset and made-sure-I-knew-it parents. During this time, support is actually paramount. But I often didn’t realise them to be supporters at the time, I was high strung and busy in my own head, fire-fighting one media onslaught after another. It probably took me 2-3 years to settle my parents from their emotional episodes. It took me 3 more years, to reflect on my role, as a spokesperson of the Asian community, as an activist that was afraid of crowds, as a member of the worldwide LGBTIQ movement, and as an Out Executive wanting to build future proof businesses.
For the typical questioning HKer that lives in her closet in the flat with her parents, we need support to make coming out easier and less stressful, traumatic even. We want to make marriage, for all that want that commitment, a joy that families can share and embrace. We want to allow every Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, or Queer person to take off that mask of polite obedience, and let the sun shine upon the beautiful face that is our authentic selves.
Seahorses are bisexual, with the males bearing eggs and giving birth to their young. Starfish and sea urchins are actually intersex, both female and male at once. The sheephead wrasse are all female, until a male is required, one of them transitions over. Conversely Clownfish, you know nimo, are all born male but transition into female to become the alpha of the group when the situation demands it. Orca wales indulge in lots of male-on-male sex, and there are also LGBTIQ+ penguins, dolphins, seals or squid which you can also google yourselves. Nature is full of loving non-judgemental LGBTIQ allies (see more from Greenpeace here), but one defining feature that is unique to humans, is that we have the requirement of ceremony in our lives. Birth, marriage, and death.
If you travel to Turkey and visit their archaeological museums, one of the earliest recorded contracts baked into a clay tablet was a marriage contract, and you’ll also see one of inheritance arrangements right next to it.
In Hong Kong the LGBTIQ community has limited protection on much of the above. We have made significant progress in the past 5 years, but it’s no where near enough. Ladies and gentlemen and all other pronouns, marriage equality is important and urgent because it’s an essential part of an equal society. A gender equal world should no longer define marriage in terms of a male breadwinner and female homemaker. This is the establishment that we want to shatter. Males can be caring homemakers too. Yes, in HK if you’re gay and married you may get a tax break and a spousal visa, but birth, marriage, sickness, health, death, at every point of the way our tribe will need to win more battles, and that’s what we’re gonna do and we will not stop until we win full marriage equality.
Besides doing this in the courtroom, we need to do this in the boardroom, we need to do this in the dining room, and the bedroom. We need to win hearts and minds, and the funds we raise in our Outreach VoiceOut fund will be used in strategic research, hiring of staff to engage with institutions, businesses, and communities to get our message across. With the world slowly moving towards ESG in business, now is a critical moment for all sectors of society to progress beyond the power/energy/technological institutions that were suitable for the 19th Century, and also embrace the vast opportunity that is LGBTIQ acceptance, to create a future that will allow the next generation to soar and thrive.