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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. 


1. 2010-02-13 02:43  
Mum give me a hug in the airport and she told me she love me after all, dad give me a kiss before I leave. I use to thought they hated me for being gay but sometimes even till now, I wonder will they ever accept this gay daughter in the future. I asked my mum if she can turn back time, will she go for abortion if she knew this child will turn out to be gay and she gave me an answer totally irrelevant to my question...

I feel terrible everyday for not being a good daughter as what they hope for, terrible karma I had, probably need another 3000 yr to get out from samsara each time i goes against their will... And I took the vow during Tsongkhapa day...

However, as what Rinpoche say "be yourself", I will just continue to live my life to the fullest, be myself as usual and hopefully can repay their kindness...
修改於2010-02-13 02:44:38
2. 2010-02-15 17:18  
Expectations...expectations...expectations...less is more...
Easier said than done isn't it....

Filial Piety is often defined these days by material gifts and how 'obedient' one is in meeting the needs, wants and whims of parents even when they are fully aware of their faults yet justified because it's an 'Asian thing' to do and parents 'cannot err' (sounds like the Papacy huh?)...so much so that when the home becomes a war zone because of the overbearing attitude and misguided notion of upholding 'tradition' even at the expense of life in some cases, what else can be said? It has become some sort of corporate thingy: toe the line or else...

And when family members and relatives hurt each other to the point of no recourse and swept under the carpet, unresolved and bitterness swallowed in the name of 'face saving' and 'tribal pride', what happens then? Any wonder why some people would rather leave their fortune to animals and charity than their own blood kin?
And one can see the usual symptoms of guilt and lavish spending for their beloved dead...massive tombs/memorials, grand scale funerary processions, nothing short of the best..yet more tears came from the professional mourners than the actual family members...
if only the same was done when the dead was alive..looks like some humans are better at expressing their 'love' when their beloved is dead than when they were alive...so true when it was said that the funeral is more for the living than the dead...

So then what is 'true filial piety'?
One quote from the Buddha...
"But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment:
To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."

It is a daunting task indeed...self transformation is already such an uphill task...what more for the above...though not impossible...As I watched on CNN on the Haitian earthquake victims, one woman was found singing..'One day at a time..."

As Madonna sang...'Cherish! Cherish!'....
修改於2010-02-17 17:10:26
3. 2010-02-16 17:58  
Great Article Sharon! :)
4. 2010-02-24 23:43  
I'm waiting for a new article Sharon... upload fast la!
5. 2010-02-28 18:53  
excellent article sharon. reading it made me realise i havent been as nice as i should be towards my parents over CNY. thanks for the insight.
6. 2010-04-26 13:21  
awesome article Sharon!
i think life learnings in terms of parent-child relationships works two ways. As much as we think that parents have a role in teaching their children, but children also have a role in sharing learnings with their parents. i continue my journey of educating my parents on concepts such as career breaks, the general charateristics of gen Ys, and of course sexuality (with patience, love and preserverance)...
修改於2010-04-26 13:25:42



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