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Today is the 70th year anniversary for the founding of PRC. All my wechat friends are posting screenshots and photos of the grand military parades and saying how proud they are of being citizens of a great country. These postings produce many mixed feelings for me
Firstly, I’m definitely happy that China made it this far and proud of how much it has achieved for the last 40 years. This period of prosperity lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, gave so many people the opportunity to live a dignified life
Without the exponential growth over the past 4 decades, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to study abroad and make my own life like I am now. That alone is enough to make me grateful.
I’m also disturbed by how oblivious so many of my friends seem to be about what’s going on behind this grand celebration. I’m not gonna go into the details of the atrocities this administration has committed in the past years, but the fact ppl are able to completely
overlook all the ongoing madness and launch into this bravado of celebration, without a single voice heard (allowed to be heard) raising the issues that ought to demand attention is profoundly sad and disturbing.
But I think most of all, I’m jealous. I’m jealous of how much they feel like they belong.
Ever since I realized I was gay at age 12, I have been making plans to leave China to give myself a chance at happiness, which to me includes having a family, have kids, which I know won’t be an option for me in any foreseeable future if I stayed in China.
I remember researching immigration policies of counties that allow gay marriage. I started going to the official gov websites of these countries after realizing that second-hand chinese translation was never accurate or up-to-date enough.
I struggled reading through all the legal jargons of immigration sites, and it was then that I knew I had to be good at English to even make this a possibility at all. Good thing this allowed me to develop one of my my most marketable skills - English, spoken so well
that I’ve on countless occasions been mistaken as American. This is the skill that opened the most doors for me and the one thing I have to thank for it is being made to feel I do not belong in my home country.
Unsurprisingly, seeking to leave the country since 12 didn’t help me identify with my nationality. I never find it as easy as my peers to say the simple sentence “I’m proud to be Chinese”. How can be proud of something I’ve been trying to change since age 12?
I’ve also often been told by my American friends how American I am, but I can’t in good conscience say I feel like I belong here either. Like @yangyang_cheng said in her beautiful letter, nationality is not a feeling. I’m not American, and i’m reminded of that everyday
by all my immigration papers, and all the things I can’t do here because of my status.
As a matter of fact, I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to say “I proud to be a XXX” as confidently as my WeChat friends are saying about China. It’s the one thing I’m most envious for, how much they knew they belong, and how I don’t belong anywhere.
Perhaps there were a few moments in my life when I felt a sense of belonging. I think of the time when I was in Osaka, by myself I walked in to a gay bar, and talked to the owner who’s been a local activist for years
I remember he asked about my life, what it’s like to be gay in China and compared it to Japan, we also talked about movies, pop stars, reality shows and attractive men. When I got up to leave, he went from behind the counter to give me a hug, and wished me luck
Perhaps I belonged right there and then, in that tiny little bar in a back alley of Doyama. How I wish moments like that lasted longer.
Anyway this was random, was just gonna write a short thread but it turned out to be an literal essay. Don’t think too much of it I guess lol maybe i’m just being melodramatic.
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