12 Feb 2010


Chinese New Year is traditionally a riotous family occasion however some lesbians and gay men might find themselves feeling their loneliest during this holiday season.

This year, for the first time in seven years, I will be spending Chinese New Year separately from my girlfriend. She is going back to her hometown and I will stay in lovely Kuala Lumpur because my parents are traveling over Chinese New Year so there’s no need for me to go home. I would have normally joined my girlfriend to her family’s celebrations but since the recent Christmas revelations where her parents indicated disapproval of our relationship, we decided that for the sake of peace, I will not go back with her. It is sad that when out of a mistaken moral stance on homophobia, people are divided, especially during a time when they should be united.

Chinese New Year is traditionally a family occasion – although unfortunately not as in the ‘We are Family’ thing. Gay people, more so in Asia, are usually at their loneliest during Chinese New Year because Asians are more concerned about ‘face’ and family reunions do not usually include our other halves who just happen to be the same sex as ourselves. Having gay children is just not something to be proud of, yet, as they obviously have not heard of real ‘pride’!

But things are changing. Slowly but surely.

My cousin is as gay as you can get and his mother, who is my mother’s sister, accepts him and his partner whole-heartedly. My aunt has even gone on the float with him and his friends on a float during Pride week in Australia! However, each family is different and my parents are extremely conservative. The only float my mother would go near would be a rootbeer float, and only then if it wasn’t too gassy.

Accepting our parents as they are because we know better is the only way forward. We are with this set of parents because of our karma. There is no other reason. Whether we get on well with our parents and siblings is because of karma. If we do not get along well with them, for whatever reasons, be it our sexuality, religion, political views, it is because of karma.

Knowing this, we can change our karma for the future by creating the causes today – which means how we act towards our parents. It is not pleasant to be constantly nagged or criticised about our sexuality. I know people whose lives are a living hell because every moment at home is about how bad and evil they are for being gay. However, if we think deeper about why our parents are reacting that way – we can see that they are suffering tremendously. There may not be a basis for their suffering because it is all deluded, such as their preoccupation with our sexual inclination, but for them – it’s very real. So when we think about their suffering and if we truly love our parents, for they have looked after us to the best of their ability for many years of our lives, we have to think how we can repay their kindness.

When we get upset with our parents, it is because they are not fulfilling our expectations of them. They are not accepting us as we are. The flip side is that we are not fulfilling their expectations of us too. And if we want to break the cycle and not have to go through the angst-ridden karma with them life after life, then we have the power to break the karma now, by our actions.

As I mentioned in my previous article, it does not mean that we change ourselves, because we are not being homosexual to hurt them deliberately. We should be ourselves but show them that we are not defined by our sexuality. We are more than that. We are kind, loving and GRATEFUL people.

Show them that this is who you are. A kind, considerate, loving, grateful person who just so happens to be gay.

So if you want to follow Buddhist principles, this Chinese New Year, give your parents gifts with love and openness to thank them for all the positive things they have done for you. Absorb their suffering willingly and in return for their bitchy, unkind words, give them love. You can change everything – for yourself and for them. That is what my girlfriend will do over this Chinese New Year and always, as advised by our dearest Lama.

So for this Chinese New Year, especially as it is also Valentines’ day, let’s give everyone much love and care – for our families and our friends.

“You want to be spiritual?
Buy flowers for your wife. Stop nagging your husband. Take your wives out to eat. Don’t cheat on your husbands and wives in any way.

“You want the greatest practice?
The greatest practice is getting behind a steering wheel and taking your mother and father out to eat.

“You want the greatest mantra?
The greatest mantra is: ‘How are you, mummy? How are you, daddy? What can I do for you?’ 

“That is the greatest mantra at this moment, for us.”

- H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche from ‘If Not Now, When? – the peace edition’ 

Gong Xi Fa Cai to all… may the new year bring you happiness, good health and prosperity!

Sharon Saw is a writer / editor at Kechara Media & Publications, which focuses on publishing the teachings of H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, a high incarnate Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A selection of Buddhist and non-Buddhist related books from Kechara Publications is now available on Fridae Shop. You can follow Sharon on Twitter. This column will appear every other Friday.