(excerpt from UC Davis Pride Week Keynote Address)
My 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.