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Friday, January 9, 2015
A Thriving Young Woman Despite Discrimination Against Her Mother
I've profiled dozens of ongoing relationships through exclusive interviews in which the lovers are denied the freedom to be open about their love and are, by law, denied the freedom to marry and have that marriage treated equally under the law. However, I'd been missing opportunities to further inform visitors to my blog, as pointed out by some Friends of Full Marriage Equality. So now, in addition to seeking interviews with the lovers themselves, I am also asking for friends and family of such lovers for interviews.
The inaugural interview of this new series is below, and features a remarkably well-spoken young woman whose life was impacted negatively by discrimination against her mother's consensual relationship. Fortunately, as you'll read, things weren't nearly as bad as they could have been, especially when it comes to a prior relationship her mother had, the one that birthed the interviewee.
Read the interview below and ask yourself who hurt her... her mother or the people who persecuted her mother?
FULL MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Describe yourself and your background.
Anonymous Woman: I’m 20 years old, Eurasian and an atheist. I live with my partner of six years and have olive skin and tattoos. I’m roughly around 165cms tall and I’m the oldest child in my family. When I’m not working as a waitress, I love to spend my time outdoors being active and staying physically fit or playing PlayStation inside. I've been home-schooled all my life and enjoy mixing with people from all walks of life. I’m extremely accepting and love nothing more than to learn and soak up as much knowledge as I can.
FME: You were born of what some would call an interracial relationship, correct? What is your mother's background and what is your father's?
That’s correct. My mother was born of English decent. My father is Chinese, with his family all coming from China. Mainly the Hong Kong region as far as I’m aware.
FME: What kind of discrimination or difficulties, if any, have you experienced as a result? What discrimination or difficulties, if any, have you seen your parents experience as a result of their relationship being interracial?
I’m often teased (even now as an adult) for having such a short last name. My last name consists of just two letters and a lot of people can’t seem to process that. It’s actually funny how many times I've had letters arrive in the post from companies or been to a doctor’s surgery to find that they have added an extra letter or two to my last name, even though I verbally spelt it out to them. I also get teased about not being extremely smart or good with technology because of my background. I just laugh it off now and often join in as I've never been offended of it and know everyone is only joking. I also often get comments made about my tastes in food too, as I love my oriental foods.
As far as I’m aware my parents never had many problems with their interracial relationship. But they grew up in a very multicultural place. So I guess everyone just accepted the fact that they were from different backgrounds.
FME: How long, if at all, were your parents together after you were born? What was your childhood like, in terms of who raised you and visitation, etc.?
My parents divorced when I was 8 years old. My childhood was just like every other kid, my father worked a lot and I didn't really spent much time with him. My mum at first ran her own business until my brother was born, then became a stay at home mum after that. The only thing really different about my childhood was the fact that I was home-schooled and never attended school. Besides that everything else was just as any other kid’s upbringing.
Once my parents divorced my father left the country and decided he no longer wanted to have any contact with us. So visitations were never an issue for me as a child.
FME: Were the extended families accepting of the partner and in-laws?
I think so. My mum always told me my Nanna was very fond of my father and I never remember any issues as a child with family get togethers etc. My Aunty is also married to an English man though, so the two cultures mixed all the time.
FME: Do you tend to identify with one racial or ethnic group more than another, and if so, how and why?
This is a hard question for me. I guess I do tend to identify myself as more Asian than I do English. It’s not that I look more like I’m from Asia, I look the total opposite actually, but more because I get a lot of people question what nationalities I’m a mix of. For example, I had a lady come up to me randomly at work the other week asking if I had New Zealander heritage. I've also been confused as being Spanish, Fijian, Hawaiian, and Japanese… All the exotic places you can think of, I've been confused with.
I also have very oriental taste-buds. I absolutely love Asian foods. My tattoos are also very oriental and I love Asian art and décor. I guess a lot of it boils down to the fact that I don’t have a lot to do with my Asian heritage, besides for the food and what I see within the European society. This isn't due to my mum keeping it from me or anything like that as she always encouraged my curiosity and used it to fuel my education. I think if anything it’s more to do with the fact that my father never really wanted to spend the time passing on any history, stories or knowledge of his culture with me and because of this I’m always on the hunt for information regarding the culture and how people live, eat and act.
FME: Do you tend to be attracted to people of a particular racial or ethnic background?
I tend to find myself attracted to the European type of background. My boyfriend is of strong English decent and I've never found myself attracted to anyone of other racial or ethnic backgrounds.
FME: Can you think of any advantages from having parents or different races/ethnicities/nationalities?
The food, language, artwork. The advantages are endless really. You get to experience and gain knowledge of so many different aspects on how people live, how different governments work, how different cultures act and see things. How they act differently in situations etc. How they celebrate different holidays and also what holidays they celebrate compared to the other (e.g. Chinese New Year, Christmas etc.)
FME: In addition to being of interracial parentage, you've also experienced having a mother who was in what most would consider a more forbidden relationship, correct?
FME: What are your memories, if any, of your mother’s relationship with her genetic father? What did you know about their relationship and what did you think about it? How did you find out what you know?
When the relationship first started I was young, so I didn't really understand what was going on. I never saw my mother’s father as a grandfather or anything like that. In the beginning he was just another person in my life. I guess that’s because growing up I never had anything to do with him as my mother never had any contact with him herself growing up. It wasn't until I was about ten or twelve years old that I started to get an idea of what was going on, but by then I didn't really have any feelings towards it because my mum was happy and it had been my life for quite a while by that time.
As I got more into my teens though, I did start to despise the relationship a bit. Mostly because it involved us moving around a lot and the moving meant I had to start all over again with friends etc. With saying that though, now that I’m an adult I’m glad we moved around and traveled because I've had the chance to see so much of the country I live in before I've gotten older and settled down.
FME: Your mother’s relationship became a criminal matter and was widely publicized in the media. What kind of effect has that had on you and others in the family?
When it first became a criminal matter and my siblings and I were forcefully removed from my mother by the government, it took its toll on me. I got very depressed and had high anxiety through the process. I think it was purely due to the fact that during that time I was kept in the dark about everything that was happening in my life and I was concerned for the safety of my family. During the time we were in care, I had to deal with myself and my younger siblings being abused by carers and moved around a lot. I also had to endure listening to them gossip and say my siblings and I are part of a ‘cult’ on a daily basis, as well as not being able to touch or speak to my (then) baby sister who I had always helped mum with.
Being put into High School after being home-schooled and having to deal with the offensive language, gossip, bullying and violence also had its effects on me.
As an adult I strongly believe and blame the system for my high anxiety and slight depression. What happened within that short time will always haunt me and I feel sorry for any child within the system that has to deal with it on a daily basis. After having that experience I turned to mum and told her that I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy. It will always hold first place as being the worst experience I've had to deal with in my life.
As for the media, the biggest issues I feel the coverage brought was the fact that my mother was so well known to the public for a while. I only told a very few selected people about my mother’s story and my history growing up, so often when people met her they’ll think she looks familiar and question where they have seen her before. For me, the coverage hasn't affected my life personally because I wasn't the one of full interest. I was just the ‘poor child’ caught up in a social dispute between what is seen as right and wrong. The silly thing is that what people are unaware of is that I was the one who put my hand up to go on national television and give my side of the story. I knew there was going to be a lot of backlash against my family and I wanted to do my part of protecting them. Of course it didn't work as I was apparently ‘brainwashed’ and ‘innocent’, as well as being ‘told what to say’.
The media coverage [no longer has much of an effect on] me, my siblings, my life, their life and we can all walk the streets without anyone knowing who we are or what our story is. Even my mum is no longer recognised by the public. If anything I think my siblings and I enjoyed the media coverage. It was a great learning experience and taught us a great lesson early in life that society is very unaccepting and judgmental. They don’t like to listen to two sides of a story; they only like jumping to conclusions. They also only see everything in black and white and must follow what I like to call ‘the book of sheep’. Nobody takes the time to open their minds and support other people’s decisions. It’s all just ‘the bible says’ or ‘the morals are’. Nobody can be happy for somebody else just… because. There always has to be a socially acceptable reason or a written meaning in some book for it to be possible or ethical. People just need to learn to be more accepting and loving towards others. They need to just learn to be happy for each other and less worried about what’s happening in other people’s lives and more focused on their own. I believe that until that happens nobody in society will ever really find true happiness.
FME: Have there been any other disadvantages or problems? Do people outside of the family bring up the situation to you in a negative way?
I don’t feel there have ever been any disadvantages or problems. Nobody ever mentions it to me; not even extended family. It’s caused a few family upsets, but over the years everyone has just gotten over it and moved on. But besides that, it’s a frowned upon subject outside of my family (family meaning siblings, mum and I) and nobody ever discusses it and chooses to pretend it never happened.
FME: Aside from the discrimination of outsiders, do you think you were hurt in any way by either your parents being of different races or by your mother having the relationship she did with her genetic father?
Not at all. I've ended up with more issues from the government removing me from my mother and grandfather when the whole criminal matter went to court, than I ever did over the years of being with them. Growing up I was just a regular child, in a regular family. Until it all went public and everyone knew who we were for those few short months, everyone just saw us as a normal, everyday family. Sure, my grandfather is older than my mother. But that’s got nothing to do with it in this century. I mean, girls are looking to date older boys. Women are looking to marry older men. Every second child has divorced parents. It’s just what happens. So to see an older man with a younger woman and kids didn't make anyone think twice.
FME: Does it seem to you that the biggest problems with interracial relationships or Genetic Sexual Attraction relationships is the discrimination applied from those outside the relationships?
Definitely. These people aren't hurting anyone. They aren't killing innocent people, they aren't doing drugs, and they aren't physically harming anyone or themselves. Sure it might seem a bit weird to some and that makes them disagree with it. It’s like my tattoos and piercings. A lot of people discriminate against me because I have them. I've been watched over by security and shop assistants just because tattoos and piercings are seen as being ‘rough’ and I might steal something. Sure my body modifications aren't ‘illegal’, but neither are interracial relationships. And sure GSA is at the moment. But honestly, unless there is psychological abuse happening from one particular member of the relationship, then what’s it to anybody else? As long as the two adults are both consenting then who cares what they do with their own private time and in their own space? They aren't harming anyone.
FME: Do you think your experiences and background have made you more accepting and supportive those who still face discrimination for their relationships?
Of course. I’m very much into supporting the LGBT community and their fights for acceptance and equality. I’m also open to a lot of other relationships and strongly believe that love is love. Most of the time it’s something we can’t and shouldn't fight. I also believe in acceptance and not judging people based on silly things like past relationships, who they choose to love or mistakes they have made. I only ever judge people by their personality, because when it comes to friends and meeting new people that’s all that matters. Anything else can be spoken and learnt about at a later date and when they decide is the right time to talk about it.
FME: What do you want to say to people who disapprove of interracial relationships? Of GSA relationships?
That I respect their decision not to approve of it, but what harm are these people doing? Besides doing something that society sees as morally wrong and might to some religions be frowned deeply upon. Just take a moment to remember that centuries ago these relationships were common. Way back in your family tree you are related to two people who were brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son. They produced a child who was perfectly normal and continued on the family name to have you where you are today. Back when interracial relationships were illegal, you probably had a great-great-great aunt or uncle who fell in love and just had to be with that person of a frowned upon race. That means you are related to that authenticity that you are being racist towards.
We as humans are all linked in some way or another. No matter what race, sexual orientation or who we fall in love with.
FME: Anything else you want to say?
Thank you for giving me a chance to speak my mind and give me the opportunity to voice my opinions on a subject as controversial as this.
There you have it. Those who oppose full marriage equality often say, "What about the children?" Well, as you can read for yourself, it is the very discrimination against consenting adults that such people perpetuate that hurts the children. So... What about the children? They're better off if their parents aren't persecuted and prosecuted for simply being in love with each other.
Why should adult lovers be denied their rights? There’s no good reason.We need to recognize that all adults should be free to be with any and all consenting adults as they mutually consent, and part of doing that is adopting relationship rights for all, including full marriage equality sooner rather than later. People are being hurt because of a denial of their basic human rights to love each other freely.
You can read other interviews I have done here.
I was pleasantly surprised that discrimination against interracial relationships didn't traumatize Anonymous Woman. Hopefully families with other relationships that are still discriminated against will soon be as free of such trauma.
If you are facing persecution or discrimination because of your relationship and are looking for help or others you can talk with, read this.
Thank you to Anonymous Woman for doing this interview! If you want to be interviewed about your "forbidden" relationship or that of your family member or friend, connect with me by checking under the "Get Connected" tab there at the top of the page.
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