My partner and I are from ROC and PRC respectively. We’ve been in a committed long-distance relationship since 2008. While the past eight years has been said to be a historically “friendly” period across the Taiwan Strait, in reality we’ve hardly seen any progress in terms of legal protection or social benefit of our partnership. Although civil society groups in Taiwan are steadily advocating for their “Family Diversity” Proposal, and an increasing number of Taiwanese city governments have enacted administrative registration for same-sex couples, it seems that queer unions that involve one spouse of non-Taiwanese citizenship are very unlikely to become a political priority for the Island, needless to say for the Mainland where the SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) minority movement is combating an even more oppressive political environment. With the change of color in Taiwan local elections, the growing uncertainties of Cross-Strait relationships have prompted queer partners like us to think: where is the future of our “STRAIGHT” relationship?
This presentation will contribute to the session on Queer(ing) Marriage and Family in China and Taiwan. I will discuss my childhood antipathy to hetero marriage as the awakening of my non-straight identity, my cautiousness toward the exclusive monogamous model when I began to experiment intimately with individuals of the same sex, and how queer and not queer my partner and I think our relationship is (as informed by our respective cultural backgrounds, SOGI related points of view, age, and life experiences). In particular, I will look at the “double vulnerabilities/capacities” that partners like us are facing: trying to redefine kinship as individuals whose sex assigned at birth is inappropriate, at least as considered by current customs and laws; and attempting to build a family consisting of citizens from different nations whose governments have a disputed, tense relation with each other.
There are several messages I would like to bring to this conference. First of all, non-straight partnerships may be of diverse imaginaries and realities in different societies. Given such, how are we to understand these different demands and propose different strategies? Furthermore, challenges faced by queer kinship/family are usually not limited to queerness as the single origin; more often than not, they are accompanied by mixed social and political factors such as nationality in my case. Therefore, what solutions might we propose that account for this intersectionality? Last but not least, as demonstrated in my story, even as partners we may still have discrepancies regarding how queer each of us are, each of us wants to be, and each of us can afford to be. As a result, when speaking of the community, what do we think about the nature of queerness, about its stance toward mainstreamness in different times and spaces, and about its relationship with our basic state of being human?