By: Juliana Clark
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as a person of color, there are times where I find it difficult to see myself being represented. I’ve realized that the lack of Asian LGBTQ+ representation has impacted the way that I feel about myself as a young woman. This is expressed through my own personal journey surrounding my sexuality up until my experiences with dating and pursuing intimate relationships. While I may not need to worry about getting pregnant, another fear of being underrepresented comes into play.
Personally, I identify as gay/lesbian with the pronouns she/her/hers. However, it wasn’t until recently (late 2018) that I was able to openly admit this to myself. While prior, I had previously thought I was bisexual. I believe that part of the reason why I wasn’t able to fully accept myself as gay was because I did not have any gay or queer Asian influencers to look up to. In a sense, that made me feel alone and labeling myself as bisexual made it so I would be able to at least partly identify with female Asians who identified as straight. I would like to make it clear that in no way am I disregarding or putting down bisexuality or its existence, as I believe it is a wonderful identity to have; instead I am just sharing my own experience of how a lack of public Asian LGBTQ+ representation contributed to a slower progression of self acceptance of my sexuality.
I also think that the scarcity of Asian LGBTQ+ representation has impacted the way that I view my self esteem in terms of being on dating apps and meeting people in real life. Especially in relation to dating apps, where limited information is present about the individual, I have found that I have become extra conscious and sensitive to the fact that the one of the first things a person will notice about me is that I am Asian. I have found that this makes me insecure, although I am not sure on exactly why since I am proud of my Asian identity. This results in lower self-esteem and disbelief when I’m told that someone likes me. I hate having that feeling because I want to fully be able to love myself but not seeing myself represented enough hinders that which leads me to feel like an outcast.
In the same context as not being able to see my race or adopted identity being represented in the media, it negatively affects the perception of myself when I am not able to see myself represented in terms of my sexuality as a person of color. That’s why it always makes me happy in television shows and movies when I am able to see LGBTQ+ people of color represented. My favorite TV show The Bold Type contains a storyline that is centered around a bisexual black woman and Muslim lesbian who fall in love. I love watching this storyline unfold, as it handles its issues and development of characters so maturely. Also because the sole presence of the storyline further shines a light on the existence of LGBTQ+ people of color. I find myself constantly looking for this kind of representation, realizing that there isn’t much and needs to be more. If you’re a person of color who is part of the LGBTQ+ community and are reading this, please know that I stand with you.
Juliana Clark currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is studying International Development at the University of Guelph in Canada. Juliana is a member of the Adoptee Board for the organization Families with Children from China (FCCNY). In her spare time, she loves to get involved in events promoting social justice issues.
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