year of birth
I was born in Hong Kong with a Chinese mum and a white dad. In Hong Kong, being mixed race was never an issue. When I was eight, I moved to Wales and it was horrible. I was very unhappy for many years because of racism, and this wasn’t just racism from kids in schools, it was teachers too. I became quite a wild child, I partied, I drank, all that.
The most significant thing to have happened in my life in terms of race was in 1984, I was working in South London at a Women’s Centre and there was a Chinese woman up the ladder painting the ceiling. She said to me, are you a lesbian? I said, yes I am a lesbian. She asked if I would like to join their Chinese Lesbian group, it was a consciousness raising group but also an eating group!
With this group, we went together to an Asian Lesbian conference in San Francisco, I’d never seen so many like-minded women and women that looked like me...ever! And in the same place! No matter where people were from, they would say ‘Asian American’, ‘African American’, always ‘something-American’ whereas I would say ‘Chinese’ or ‘Welsh’, I wouldn’t say ‘British’ because I suppose for me, it didn’t represent good things. They had a sense of unity in their cultural hybridity which I didn’t see here. They were second, fourth, fifth generation of Asian American and I could relate to them more than the Chinese people I had met in the UK. The Chinese Lesbian group really expanded my comfort with myself.
Race has been a big issue for me but during other periods of life, race wasn’t such an issue. I think right now, race is an issue because my mum has alzheimer. What will race mean for me when she goes? Will I feel less Chinese?
My mum’s moved into a care home and if you look around my home, there are a lot of Chinese things here. A lot of things have come from her house. She said to me, you can do anything you want with anything else but you must promise me, you’ll keep this cocktail cabinet because it was bought with my father’s first wage packet in Hong Kong.
It was quite hard getting rid of stuff from my mum’s house, there’s this emotional attachment, I think it’s because it was in Hong Kong because that’s where I felt safest.
Fundamentally, these objects represent the best time of my life. My childhood in Hong Kong was a very happy one, so yeah, these objects represent a time of safety and security which were taken away when I came here. You know, I question my attachment to objects, if I was English and there were furniture to be cleared from my mother’s house, would I feel so sentimentally attached?