The World Behind Closed Doors (part 4)

28 11 2011

This is probably the point where I should mention my relationship with my mother.  She was born in Hong Kong and despite having lived in Vancouver for more than 20 years, her English is very limited. Furthermore, Western views, society, and culture don’t seem to be as important to her as the traditional Chinese way of living.  It’s as if her mind was a room and she had closed the door to everything else, shutting out anything that would mutate or alter what she knew.  When I came out to my mother, she seemed to take it fairly well, aside from suggesting I go visit a doctor to get examined for my “sickness”.  Even after that, we didn’t mention anything gay-related.  Taboo: an important part of the Chinese way. It’s always better to ignore things.


Because Kem was in the closet, I respected his wish not to tell people he was gay.  We had difficultly determining whether or not I should tell my mom, since I didn’t really care but at the same time, was unsure if she would allow him to come over anymore.  Eventually, we decided it was probably better she didn’t know.  I don’t remember him having any fear of meeting my mom but if I ever did, it was squashed when it happened.

Kem scored immediate points when he first met my mom while she was actually still awake.  It was in the afternoon when he climbed the carpeted stairs up in our house.  My mom was either sitting on the couch, watching melodramatic (ie. absolutely terrible) Chinese soap operas on TV or was in the kitchen cooking.

“This is Kemuel,” I said as he charmingly gave her a smile.

“Kem-yu-al,” she repeated slowly, trying to get his name right.

“He goes to school at UBC,” I continued.  Her face immediately lit up, like hearing one of her kids had taken her advice and was going off to medical school – a look I had never been able to get from her.

“Ah, really?  What are you studying?” she asked in Cantonese, eyes gleaming.

“I’m in the music program,” he replied back in Cantonese.

“Oh!  You know Cantonese!” My mother’s voice rose an octave with excitement.

As the two continued talking, I went to the kitchen, hearing my mother’s animated voice, telling him how useless I was for not going to university while at the same time praising him; I would also heard my boyfriend’s voice, who was trying to convince her that film school was good too.  I felt proud that she liked him so quickly, that she had approved of him – except, of course that she didn’t know we were together.  When asked about how we met, I told my mom he was helping me with my application to UBC, which only made her like him even more.  This wonderful guy was helping her son go to university!  What a godsend!

(continued in part 5…)