Coming out to traditional Chinese dad?
July 18, 2012 8:02 AM Subscribe
Coming out dilemma: how do you tell your traditional Chinese dad (ESL) that you're gay?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
THE SITUATION / TL;WR:
My partner ["BF"] wants to come out to his father ["Dad"]. However, we're concerned that due to language difficulties, Dad may not understand the vocabulary, especially the subtleties of loaded words like "gay". And even if Dad understands the words, he may not understand what it really means, in terms of the idea that a man could actually be in love with another man, etc.. And then, even if Dad understands what it means, he may be absolutely devastated/furious.
Other complicating/snowflake factors:
Dad lives 4 hours away, meaning it either has to be phone call, email, or inescapable awkward visit. Also, Dad is kinda lonely, and we're worried this will make him feel even more alone (especially if he ends up being hostile to BF). Finally, BF is Chinese, I'm white.
- BF: Chinese, late 20s, professional, dude. Shy and sweet. Native English speaker, understands Chinese but does not speak. In relationship with me for 6 months (<3).
- Dad: Early 70s, ESL (not a great english speaker/understander, but gets by), devoutly Buddhist, divorced, lives alone. He clearly wants to reconnect with BF (and is clearly proud of BF's accomplishments) but they've drifted apart for multiple reasons. Lives about a 4 hours drive from BF and me.
- Me: White, late 20s, professional, also a dude. Loud and forward. Will do absolutely anything for BF (love him), including staying out of it if necessary (not easy!).
- Sister (of BF): Supportive, knows about the whole situation. Same language situation as BF.
- Older Cousin (of BF): Lives abroad, speaks Chinese, dude. 99% chance that he is gay (mentioned a boyfriend years ago, has pictures of semi-clothed dudes all over his apartment, owns small dogs), but it's never discussed in the family so we can't say for sure. May POSSIBLY be able to help with translation and cultural issues (assuming he's willing, and that we're not wrong about the him-being-gay thing), but has not been spoken to about this situation yet.
Any advice about how he/we should go about this would be incredibly helpful for both of us.
Additionally, if you have any experiences (from yourself or others) you can share to help understand what we're potentially facing, it would be appreciated. I'm thinking specifically:
1. You've had experience coming out in a traditional-Asian-parent context
2. You've had experience breaking any culturally awkward piece of information in a traditional-Asian-parent context
3. You've had experience coming out in any traditional parent context
4. You've had experience coming out/breaking any culturally awkward piece of information across a moderate language/understanding barrier
5. Any other analogous situation