This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who experienced interesting/amazing/challenging things. This is the story of Meghan and her boyfriend.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Meghan and I’m 28 years old, I’m from Toronto, Canada and live in Ottawa now! I graduated university with a degree in criminology. I love horror movies, comic books, video games, embroidery and cross-stitch.
What’s your cultural/racial background? What’s your boyfriend’s?
I’m the classic generic white person: Born in Canada, parents born in Canada and both sides are Irish.
My boyfriend is biracial. His mother is Canadian from Quebec and his father is from mainland China. He has a degree in anthropology and is currently doing his master’s in anthropology.
How did you meet your boyfriend?
We have very different degrees and we randomly had an elective course together and as silly as it sounds, the moment I saw him my stomach sort of turned over and I knew I simply HAD to talk to him and get to know him better.
We starting dating almost right away and we had a small separation before getting back together. Now we’ve been dating for almost 5 years now.
When met your boyfriend, did you have any concerns about dating someone from a different background? Did he?
I had never dated someone who wasn’t white, but he had dated people who were from different racial and cultural backgrounds.
How did the people in your lives react to your relationship?
My family and his family were absolutely fine with it, our happiness was what meant most to them and my family loves him and his family loves me.
I was surprised that some of my friends had issues with it. I was stunned that someone could actually object to him simply because of his race. I had a small handful of friends that had objections, some said it right out in the open, others distanced themselves, made nasty comments and were passive aggressive.
Not one of them is involved in my life now. I ended one friendship without a word after he pulled me aside and chided me on doing something that “debased my pedigree”. I have never spoken to that person since he uttered such disgusting words.
What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve encountered?
The worst part is the questions. People stare, make comments sometimes to both of us, sometimes I’ll be pulled aside or he will.
There is one part of the disapproval I still think is funny because I was so oblivious. In Chinese, one nasty thing to call white people is ‘gwai lo’. It means ‘ghost person’ and it’s an insult.
When I first heard it and realized someone was speaking about me, I was confused since I didn’t know what it meant. He translated it and before he said that it was an insult, I got really excited because I thought it was a compliment. My nickname with friends and family is “Ghost” because I’m extremely pale. When I learned it was meant to hurt my feelings, I still wasn’t too bothered because… well to me it’s still a compliment.
It’s amazing and disgusting the comments people have made to me, I actually compiled a short list. These are all serious, non-joking questions I’ve been asked about dating someone Asian:
– The size of his penis and whether or not I am sexually satisfied. (this was MORTIFYING)
– If we had babies, would I love them if they were “slanty-eyed” (this made me burst into tears)
– Does he beat me? Treat me like a white guy would? Has he ever fed me a dog/cat?
– Can he speak Chinese, Japanese, Korean? (people tend to assume that someone Asian could be anything) Can he speak English?
– Does his family totally hate me because I’ve “dishonored” them?
– Do I suffer from “yellow fever”?
– Why does he “hate his own kind”?
– Can he drive?
– Does he know martial arts?
– Is he ashamed of being Asian?
– Do I like anime? Does he like anime?
– Do my parents KNOW he’s “like that”?
And there are jokes that people like making, racist Asian faces, commenting on how ‘exotic’ he is and putting on racist accents etc.
What are the biggest benefits of dating someone from a different background?
Well, I think it’s made us a lot closer since we lean on each other more when people start being nasty. It’s made me MUCH more aware of how intolerant people are, I was very sheltered from racism because I’m white and I live in a country that is predominately white.
It also made me do a serious check of people I keep in my life. I know it may sounds harsh that I cut people out, but if they were unable to accept someone who is clearly so precious to me and is not going anywhere then there is no way I could continue a friendship.
What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?
The best advice is to realize that you are not “fighting racism” by being with someone from another race. Understand that it really is not going to be as simple as it appears in movies or songs. And honestly, you will probably see a very nasty side to some people you may not have seen before.
Most of all be prepared for the most shocking, offensive and insipid comments.
I don’t want to make it sound like we’re both miserable, we have wonderful families and friends who love us and are simply glad to see us happy. And above all else- we fit together perfectly, we both love old Super Nintendo games, bad horror movies from the 1980’s, and our crazy cat!