Cultural Closet: It’s a challenge for LGBT Asians to come out to relatives in their homelands

Xiukui Ji, a then-22-year old Chinese international student at the University of Arizona, was on the phone with his sister when he told her, “Oh, by the way… I’m gay.” “I knew it! I knew it from the fifth grade!” Ji remembers his sister telling him. His interest in musicals, his lack of interest in sports, his feminine connections all pointed to his homosexuality, according to Ji’s sister. Ji’s brother was also accepting of the news, since he had a childhood friend who was openly gay. However, Ji still has not shared the news with his parents because he is worried about their reactions. It’s not an unusual concern. Participants in an American Psychological Association (APA) study noted fear and concern of homosexuality in Southeast Asian culture and a lack of education and awareness about the LGBTQ community. “The pressures South Asian immigrant parents apply to their children result in their children leading double lives: one in which they feign acceptance of their parents’ wishes and another one wherein they secretly participate in parties, relationships, and ‘American’ activities,” reported the APA study.