I wrote the following piece which was published in New Zealand’s only LGBT-focused magazine, Gay Express, titled ‘Gay and Asian and a New Zealander‘.
Max Lin writes from his unique perspective as a gay Taiwanese migrant, on the issues the GLBT community must still address in order to become more inclusive.
Moving to New Zealand, at the age of six, was probably the single most life-changing moment in my life. People tend to underestimate the power that moving to a new country can transform someone. I cannot conceptualise who I would be. I probably wouldn’t be able to speak English, have the same opportunities, and I wonder if I would even be able to acknowledge that I am gay – to myself, my family, and to my friends. For this, I am grateful – one of the proudest moments is when I walked across the stage in the town hall and became a New Zealand citizen.
I love this country and I believe we can make it a better place.
Being ‘gay’ and ‘Asian’ while growing up in New Zealand has often required me to navigate the demands of multiple ‘identities’. However, I struggled as I tried to capture to complexity behind what it even means for someone just to be ‘gay’ or ‘Asian’ in New Zealand. I want to believe that my experience is not merely the product of reductive notions of each community. I wondered in what ways self-identification is an intrinsic part of who we are, or simply an insidious process of unconsciously trying to perform the expectations of those identities.
It might be easy to come to the conclusion then, that labels are meaningless – that somehow we are all individuals and equal. I wanted to believe that labels are just fictional constructs; that I am free to be who I am – but I know this is not true.
This is a short debate written for Craccum Magazine of the University of Auckland published on 25 August, 2014. The piece is written to satisfy the format of a debate, and do not completely reflect my current views. I argued for the Affirmative in the motion, and Tessa Naden, the Queer Rights Officer of AUSA of 2015 argued for the Negative.
The Motion is “This House Believes It Is Time For The LGBTI Movement To Break Up”
Affirmative. Let us get one thing clear: to say the LGBTIA movement should break up is not the same as saying there are no more gains to be made for LGBTIA people. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is to say that each identity is better at advancing those gains for themselves if they were to pursue them separately.
When you conflate all of these diverse groups into one movement, you risk the dominant narratives appropriating what is already scarce political capital at the expense of others.
While we would like to think that we are one happy family all pursuing the amorphous goal of “equality”, each group is now speaking irreconcilable interpretations on what equality entails. While the marriage of these groups catalysed from facing the same oppression from society, now the challenges and solutions for each group are not just different, they have become antithetical to one another.