Never interested in treading lightly around the big conversations, “The Peculiar Kind” dropped its third episode yesterday, this time discussing how queer sexuality is viewed in respective ethnic cultures. The spread is pretty solid on this one. In addition to the already-familiar faces, this episode features a new cast member, Adrien, as well as a conversation between eight younger queers from various ethnic backgrounds. One of them is me! But that’s not why you should watch this.
The episode, titled “Where I’m From…” reminded me of the age-old question, “Hey girl, where you from? No like, where you from? Like, where you from-from?” Answering these inquiries has probably become part of the conversational repertoire for anyone who is any shade of off-white. And although this question is usually totally offensive, often eliciting responses like “New York,” “Brooklyn,” “Oh, where am I froooom? My mother’s uterus,” it’s interesting to think that it can actually mean something. We’re shaped by the experiences of our lives, but we’re also shaped by forces that we never chose to participate in, like culture. And as POC, that culture is often generationally very close to us. Often we don’t have to trace immigration back to Ellis Island or the Mayflower – our grandparents and parents are the immigrants we grew up with. They’re the ones who taught us about our culture; sometimes they’re the ones who didn’t teach us about our culture in hopes that we could be that much more American.
Whatever the situation, POC often have to navigate the murky waters of connecting to a cultural identity while also reconciling the fact that doing so often means being othered in the environment where we grow up. Add a little (or a lot) of queerness to the mix, and you’ve got a whole lifetime of confusion, alienation, and feelings to deal with.
Taking part in this conversation reminded me of the A-Camp Queer Women of Color panel, which was probably one of the most valuable and gratifying experiences of my life as a queer lady of color. I’m not friends with many Asian-Americans. I’m friends with even fewer queer Asian-Americans. The lack of those kinds of relationships can really get you feeling like you don’t exist. Witnessing and being a part of projects like this confirms the opposite. Your feelings are valid, your experience is relatable, and you exist.
Sidenote: While we’ve got your attention, don’t forget to check out Episode 2.5, “For Hire,” which discusses employment and discrimination, and features Brooklyn Boihood’s own Ryann. What a big gay internet family we all are.