by Andrew Wen
Now that Pride Week is over, we have to ask ourselves: what was accomplished last week? What hurdles has the gay community overcome, and how have we as a community grown because of it?
I think one of the more important topics was touched upon during a panel last Friday concerning coming out to families in China and the States. Perhaps the most difficult thing a gay person can do is to come out to his parents, since there really isn’t a grey area when it comes to approval within the family, not when it involves the very people that are supposed to be your safe haven against an otherwise hostile world. It is even more complicated in China, where homosexuality is not very well understood.
At the panel, one Chinese mother of a gay man recalled that, when she first heard from her son that he was gay, she had no idea what it meant. She knew vaguely that homosexuals existed from American media, but she did not know what the implications were. Was it a disease? A choice? Was her son brainwashed from having watched too many American soap operas?
But after she read up on the facts and joined support groups, she knew that she had only one choice, despite the crushing sorrow that she felt. Because, at the end of the day, she knew that if she didn’t choose to approve and support her son, she would never see him again.
Through her confusion it becomes apparent how important Pride Week is in China. Chinese people know about the gay communities in foreign countries—but that’s all they know about. It doesn’t do us any good when we hear about more gays coming out in the States. Chinese know all about them, but still believe that homosexuality could not possibly exist among their own people and in their own homes. Pride Week is important in China because, more than anything, Chinese people right now just have to know. They have to know that gays exist in China, and that they are no different from anyone else, and that they are proud.
During the panel, a question was asked: why was last week called Pride Week? If the aim was to promote equality, why should gays be particularly proud of their sexuality? The answer that was given was eloquent: gays should be proud because, just by existing and speaking out, they are fighting against discrimination inherent in our society. They should be proud because they have no reason to be ashamed of who they are. They should be proud because they are struggling to make the world a better place to live for everyone else too, including non-gays.