there are many borders we share

(excerpt from UC Davis Pride Week Keynote Address)

silhouette of birds flyingMy longing for queer community that reflects me and where I can bring my whole self is palpable.  And in many ways because our families don’t often reflect us as queer people, we are adopted.  As adoptees, I think there are many borders we share with queerness (and disability).  We are queered as adoptees.

The longing we have as queer people for each other, for our families, for our people and histories and legacies is something that we carry with us.   It is a part of us.  We love our families but they do not always love, accept or desire us.   What do we do with that longing?  Where does it go?  Where does it live?  It pushes us to build our own families, with other queer people.  Or it pushes us away from queer people and queerness, away from ourselves, into the families and communities that help us to survive, but not truly live.  It pushes us to cut off the queer people we love when they hurt us, or when we hurt them, because it asks us to risk isolation, pain and hurt again and again; it pushes us to choose between safety and connection, often times compromising one for the other: we can be safe, as long as we aren’t connected; or we can be connected but never safe.   It pushes us to build our own chosen families and relationships, but also keeps us from returning to the very families that raised us, that we were birthed into; from returning to the very places we were raised, the very land we’re from.

I think about the idea of returning a lot.   As an adoptee and as a queer person.  What “returning” means for many of us as queer people, especially queer people of color, since we are often times pushed out of where we are from.  What returning to our land and people means.   I think about how our families and communities may not have had what they needed to be able to keep us; or how we didn’t have what we needed to be able to stay.  I think about why we were “given up” or why we chose to leave.  I think about how many of us are from rural places, but live in metropolitan cities because we can’t go back or don’t want to go back to where we came from.  I think about my own trip back to Korea the first and second time and what it means to “find family” and how we create belonging in our lives.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “there are many borders we share

  1. julijeong

    mia, this is so exactly where i’m at right now. walking the line between survival and living, wanting desperately to trust and desire and be trusted and desired…but terrified, limited by the past.

    i am prone to give too much – to make things work, to keep people in my life. but i never feel good enough. and that has everything to do with adoption, with queerness, with disability, i feel.

    i want to say that my life trajectory is not meant to have family and home as static or singular categories. but it is still something i struggle with. i look for that “one” person or queer family who will be with me forever. i’m caught up in what that sort of permanence proves about my worth. i have been so many times and so many ways discarded.

    and i look at all that, and think that maybe the best i can do is survive. but, it’s never that easy, i guess.

  2. Erin Leigh

    A friend of mine posted this on Facebook. I read the preview and had an immediate kneejerk reaction, cuz I’ve had so many non-adoptees try to tell me that they know what it’s like…(I think all adoptees are familiar with this!)

    But after reading the whole post, it really resonated with me and moved me. I appreciate the parallels you’ve drawn. Look forward to reading more.

  3. this is beautiful. just happened to come across your blog and i love this entry. thank you for sharing and i look forward to reading more of your thoughts on queerness, adoption..and whatever else runs through your mind.

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