Faith and I met through community organizing in 2008 but did not start to date until a couple years later. We both had always been attracted to one another but I had a girlfriend at the time and she was still figuring out her sexuality. A couple years after we met, I became single and our friendship grew closer, we began to “date”. I put that in quotes, because as a lesbian the line has always been a blur between being friends and actually starting to date. We were definitely friends before we were seriously hooking up. :) It wasn’t until months later that we admitted to ourselves that we actually had feelings for each other. Apparently, our friends knew before we did. We became monogamous and we are now 2.5 years strong. It is definitely not easy being a lesbian couple because there is not much support for us, not even where you’d expect support like in the “queer” communities. It is even more difficult to find support in Asian specific communities.
Faith and I struggle with different internalized homophobia and racism because of our experience growing up. I had never fit into gender norms. As a young kid, I got a lot of criticism from kids around me about my appearance and would always be asked if I was a tomboy or a boy because I didn’t wear dresses and was athletic. That didn’t help my coming out process because I knew I didn’t fit what was “normal”. I tried to understand why other girls would be different around boys, but could never grasp it. I didn’t understand what was so special about boys, because I always just viewed them as competition in sports and then later, competition for the attention of my friends. I also went to mostly white schools until middle school when I was surrounded by more kids of color. But at that early age with mostly white kids and teachers, I experienced a lot of blatant racism, which also impacted my coming out process. It was hard to just be me in my own skin when I was always different. I finally came out to myself at 21, others at 26 and then finally to my mom at 28 years old. I’m still unlearning my own internalized homophobia with the help of Faith. Her parents are the first to accept me as someone’s partner, that was a big deal for me, and it still is.
Tawny and I did meet through a Cambodian community organizing group. At the time I was more than just a little narcissist and thought she was flirting with me, when in fact she was merely being friendly. I found her attractive, and so I continued to shamelessly flirt with her even when I found out that she was already in a relationship. Even though we both had a physical attraction to each other, I soon abandoned the idea that she was going to ever break up with her girlfriend, and we remained friends. Over time, our friendship developed and we really cared about one another. Although Tawny hated to admit it at the time, we had a lot of things in common. We share a similar sense of humor and would have a lot of fun, feeding off one another’s energy. When Tawny and her girlfriend broke up, I tried to be a good friend and support her through her feelings. We eventually hooked up, but denied any emotions in our relationship. We both had serious trust and commitment issues.
For myself, I had worked really hard my whole life to show everyone that I was successful and put together. I secured a high-paying management job at a young age, I presented myself in a way that was accepted by the mainstream (long black hair, dresses, high heels, makeup), I always knew what to say or do in any professional or social situation. On the inside though, I was really unhappy but didn’t know why. I had some deep-rooted childhood stuff to work out, and it manifested itself in a multitude of self-destructive behavior in my adult life. I had always liked girls, and found myself attracted to women as a child. Because of internalized homophobia though I had pushed it away, and didn’t start to identify as bisexual until my early 20’s. I came out to myself and to my close friends then, but didn’t really think of being with women as a long-term option. I had definitely internalized sexism and had become male-identified, so I was usually attracted to other women that I thought was submissive and needed my help, or really feminine women that I viewed as sex objects. All the way through my late 20’s, as I identified as queer - most of my “relationships” with both men and women were more about conquests and power struggles than actually building intimacy. I would hook up, get “bored”, and move on to the next person – unconsciously trying to find happiness but not wanting to admit any vulnerability to myself, let alone to another person.
So when my relationship with Tawny deepened, it was really different for me. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I had strong feelings for her, so I continued to deny it. She did too. It was kind of silly really, looking back. We spent practically all of our time together, but when people asked us if we were dating or “together”, we would both vehemently deny it. This went on for months until I took a chance and admitted to myself and to her that I really cared about her. That was a step towards our relationship, and a few months later we both agreed to monogamy. I came out to my parents as lesbian soon after. She was the first woman that I loved, and I wanted my parents to know how happy she made me. Both of my parents were extremely supportive. When they met Tawny for the first time a couple of weeks later, my mom gave her a big hug hello. It has been nearly 2.5 years now, and we both continue to challenge each other to be healthy and aware individuals. In the process we strengthen our relationship. It is the only way as a lesbian couple, that we can survive.
As part of our healing process (which is a separately long story) we quit our jobs and went to Asia for 6 months. It literally was a warm summer day when Tawny said, “I wanna go live in China, would you come with me?” and Faith said, “Sure, sounds good”. We made plans, a budget, put in our notices at work and left a few months later. We ended up visiting 12 countries and 39 cities in Asia, and learned so much about ourselves and each other in the process. We were able to meet other Asian lesbians during our travels, and it was an eye-opening experience for the both of us. When we returned home to Seattle, the queer community and white-dominated media no longer met our needs. We sought out Asian lesbian movies, read old news articles featuring stories about other Asian lesbians. We began to collect what we found on the internet, and decided to share with others like us. LesbeAsian.com began primarily as a source for movies, but we found more and more things we thought would be important to add to the site. Our hope with LesbeAsian is to be one more safe space for other Asian lesbians.