As a middle-aged gay Asian American, I tend to be rather circumspect when I get asked about my family life. I’m not the loud, out and proud gay activist that some of the younger gay Asian crowd tends to be. Instead, I let writing, such as the blog be my outlet for discussing human rights and discrimination issues. Anyone close to me knows my family situation, that I’m a same-sex married gay man with a 7 year old daughter, who we had through surrogacy. But for anyone new, and those unfamiliar with my background, the topic of family is something I tread lightly around. It’s sensitive for me, since in my job, I deal with customers from around the world, and while it might be okay to push human rights in the face of a stranger (who may not be inline with your viewpoint), it’s certainly not the case when you expect them to buy your company’s product.
When my daughter was younger, and I had her with me it was usually even harder to avoid a conversation about my personal life and family. Inevitably the conversation would go something like, “Is that your daughter?”, and my response would be “Yes”. Which would lead to the surprising (to me) question, “Oh, is she adopted?”. The question always seemed to me like a funny and very personal question. You have to wonder what makes people think they can come up to someone and ask that in front of their child? The answer of course is that my daughter was not adopted, and in fact is biologically my daughter. The reason for the confusion was that the egg donor we used is Caucasian, to match my husband’s racial background, and when my daughter was younger she looked very Caucasian, and there were little if any facial characteristics that resembled mine. Do people have this confusion because most don’t expect an Asian male to have a child that doesn’t look Asian? Would it have been any different if I was an Asian mom?
Or is it just because the topic of bi-racial families and children still isn’t accepted in our society? Recently Cheerios, yes the cereal, put out an ad, featuring a bi-racial family, probably one of the very few mainstream ads to do so. This led apparently to a lot of racist comments, so much so that Cheerios had to disable comments on the YouTube video of the commercial. And if you think in this day and age, we don’t need reminders of how normal a bi-racial couple is, there’s this wonderful news piece picked up by Jezebel.com:
But just last week (IN TWO THOUSAND AND THIRTEEN), a white father in Virginia was suspected by a Walmart security guard of kidnapping after he made the mistake of being seen in public with his own biracial children. A customer reported the father to the security guard after seeing him in the parking lot with his children and deeming the scene “strange.” Local police were dispatched to the family’s home to investigate. The children were made to positively identify their own parents, in their own home. As dumb as this sounds, this Cheerios commercial at least provides idiots in the parking lot at Walmart a foundation of knowledge about interracial families. I don’t necessarily want strangers to look at me with my parents and think “CHEERIOS FAMILY,” but if the alternative is bailing my dad out jail, then I guess I’ll take it.
I guess I should count my lucky stars that I was never accused of kidnapping my own daughter, but having the question of whether she is adopted or not, is still not acceptable. In my case, my daughter got older, and as she did, her features started to fill out and today, she actually looks a lot like me. She’s got my eyebrows, my skin tone, and there’s little doubt she’s biologically my daughter when you look at her today. I’m still as circumspect today when discussing my family in certain social situations as I was when my daughter was a toddler, but at least no one questions now if she’s my biological daughter.