East Asian Bisexuals : When minorities forget about their own.
It’s the end of Bi Awareness week. Let me introduce myself minority wise. I’m bisexual and of British East Asian heritage. Two massively overlooked communities in one person and I doubt very much that I’m ‘one of a kind’ in this identity that I wouldn’t swap for the world.
I’m not going to go into how conventional societies hate us unless it’s on a web search engine where the term ‘Oriental Bisexuals’ (bleurgh)usually comes up with a large selection of porn. No it’s not flattering but whatever- our straight counterparts don’t get much of a better deal.
I am going to however throw a few stones from my Great Wall here that seems to have hidden us away from communities that are supposed to support us, as we are supposed to support them. It seems of late, that we’re not invited to the party to celebrate ethnic diversity on the basis of our gold skins. (Let’s not get started on the colourism against our brown skinned South East Asian kin.)
The western LGBTQI+ movement have a long way to go in catching up with the inclusiveness our BAME ancestors heralded centuries ago until the recent years. Shout all you want with an upgraded black and brown rainbow flag, I’ll just have to douse mine in gold glitter to include the Far East Asians and represent our skin tones to add our share. The term Gaysian in UK still solely applies to South Asians. Anyone with monolids and a permanent gold tan needs to remember that sometimes, the term Asian doesn’t apply to them. Because of our social invisibility, we’re supposed to classify that as a privilege.
Privileges such as the passive aggressive attitudes we face not only from straight white communities but queer and BAME communities too. Now and then I also get the odd comment from someone asking me to introduce a potential East Asian boyfriend or girlfriend as they’ve never had ‘a bit of China or Japan’ before. Sometimes even I end up the subject of a curious yellow fetish. Some would prefer a harem of East Asians because apparently ‘we all look the same’ down to someone’s spunky anime collection. Now and then I get approached for a Diversity call and more than half the time it is about my faith, my gender and my sexuality. My ethnicity doesn’t exist or is conveniently forgotten. I can’t talk about the racism I get because others around me assume it’s nothing but trivia. Perhaps someone’s afraid that if I talk about my race, I might remind them of their failed package holiday to Koh Samui or lack of relationships from a bit of China or Japan that they still haven’t experienced. A large portion of queer BAME and diversity based media projects cover most Asian perspectives but East or South East Asians again are left out. It’s almost as if someone was trying to say, that Bisexual East/ South East Asians are not qualified to call themselves people of colour, let alone speak about their experiences in belonging to more than one severely marginalised identity. Some East/South East Asians are left in limbo for support, with many still being unable to come out to their families, friends and peers about their same sex partners leading a double life in our ethnic cultural circles. The last we need is for that to come from our queer communities, where we’re dehumanised to a mere fetish and walking tourist board.
East and South East Asians have almost given up asking to be recognised. Queer theatre acts who feature talents with ethnic roots from Japan, Thailand and China like The Bitten Peach brilliantly portray how it is for LGBTQI+ East and South East Asians, but we still have a very long way to go. If society is going to limit us to East/South East Asian only queer formations as ‘cute little niches’ to be ignored, it stagnates our position rather than improves it. The sentiment we get if any of our complaints are addressed is appalling: ‘if you don’t like how things are, why not go back to your country and start a movement there?’ Strangely enough, that’s not seen as a racist response compared to when its mentioned to any other ethnicity.
As a minority within a minority we have every right to not only be seen but heard to talk about our experiences. It is not only up to us to showcase our talents and our voices but it is also for those of an existing platform to know when to share it with us and no time is better than now. Despite what others have heard, we don’t cook nor date everything in our sight and we don’t bite.