Queer Girl Gets Married

Queer Girl Gets DIVORCED!

We are sitting in a small office in a nondescript socialist-style office building on the 10th floor. It’s the same office building in which we got our marriage license exactly 9.5 years ago. (That’s as long as I was with my ex-girlfriend, by the way, but that’s another story.) The leather couch, shiny red-wood coffee table and beige filing cabinets…   …read more.

Redemption Blog

She asked me how things were going with Guo Jian and her eyes glinted with worry and concern (and maybe a bit of pity, but only the kind that comes from a big heart, not the patronizing kind.) She is my friend here in Beijing, but she is not from here. Like me, she is from the West—a Western wife…   …read more.

Culture or Gender?

It’s been awhile since I wrote for this blog. There’s reasons for that, but the primary one is this: I’ve spent the past eight months or so fantasizing about changing the blog name to: “Queer Girl Gets Divorced.” Seriously. It’s not that I don’t love the guy–in fact, that’s part of the problem. If I didn’t love him, divorce would…   …read more.

I am a Typical Chinese Man

China Daily’s rationale for the unlikely matrimonial combination of Asian male, non-Asian female (like ours) was based on 8 stereotypes. Funny thing is: I think I’ve just discovered the problem here: I am a stereotypical Chinese guy.

Lotus Blossom Award!

This blog is the winner of the 2014 Lotus Blossom Award! The plaque says: “IN APPRECIATION OF THE WAY YOU ADVOCATE AND CELEBRATE CROSS-CULTURAL LOVE.” This is an award put forth by a great website called My Chinese Love. Thanks so much for recognizing blogs like mine! I’m so excited. This is the first time that anything I’ve ever written…   …read more.

Standing Issue: Dribbles

A standing issue between Guo Jian and I (pun intended) is regarding the state of the bathroom. I theorize that since Chinese restrooms are, on average, absolutely disgusting places, his overall standards for bathroom sanitation are simply lower. He grew up there. I, however, didn’t.

"Marriage Isn't For Me": A Rebuttal

Recently, a blog has been circulating the internet that starts out with these words: “Marriage is not for me.” It’s a compelling hook, especially since the first few words of the blog identify the writer as a newly married man. We instinctively want to shake the guy before he’s even written his first paragraph in defense of his poor new…   …read more.

Cultural Touch Tally

I’d classify myself as an affectionate person. At least, I used to be. China seems to have trained it out of me. That makes me sad, I admit. Sometimes more sad that I can explain. Chinese people are just not very outwardly affectionate. That is, not in the ways you’d expect. There are exceptions, of course, and modern Western media…   …read more.

Family Money, Chinese Style

When I first met Guo Jian, he was one of the few Chinese people I’d come across who had a car—young people, that is. Especially in the world of musicians who make so little per gig, cars are rare here. He was working with a famous Chinese rock star at the time, though, and he had become pretty famous himself…   …read more.

Compass Compassion

When I first met Guo Jian, we did a lot of hanging out in the city like going to restaurants and shops or walking around in the interesting areas like Gu Lou 鼓楼 or Hou Hai 后海. He knew the side alleys and fun stores and would regularly tug me around corners that I hadn’t even noticed led to pathways….   …read more.

Finger Lickin' Normal

When it comes to the perceptions of common cultural practices and/or expectations of “normal,” the key to a peaceful intercultural relationship is a willingness to clean the slate and re-evaluate.

What is "Tough"?

When I was 19 and had just come out of the closet, I associated “tough” with a look. It was big boots, spiked hair, tattoos and the obligatory grimace. When I dressed this way and walked out in the world with my “tough” on, I felt good. Tough was the equivalent of strong. It was durable. So, if someone slammed…   …read more.

Wedding #2: With Buddhist Nuns' Approval?

For someone who had never planned or intended to get married—certainly someone who had never dreamed of my wedding day or felt fluttery when I saw wedding gowns glittering in store windows—the fact that I had not one, not two, but three wedding days is fairly ironic. I’ve written extensively about the first (and main) wedding in Guo Jian’s home…   …read more.

Dyke Cousin: Part 4

Today, as I walked to the post office with Guo Jian’s cousin, Wang Yin, huddled together under a shared umbrella in the early spring rain, I finally had a chance to ask her about her girlfriend. She answered freely about what her girlfriend studies and how long they’ve been together and the fact that her girlfriend is really tall and was a basketball player.

Towel or Blanket?

Towels are a mystery in China. At least, they have been since the first time I was ever here, back in the spring of 2007. I didn’t bring a towel with me in my luggage on that trip. I didn’t even think of it. The en-suite that I had in my (very overpriced) dorm room did not come with any…   …read more.

Wedding Day Chronicles – Part 6

The big event—the first and main wedding day of three weddings in total—went by so fast that I only remember a few aspects clearly. (That might have to do with not having slept the night before, but that’s just a hunch!) I do recall lots of fanfare—spotlights, loud speakers, an MC with far too much “personality” and lots of awkward…   …read more.


My mother always packs for my father when they go on vacation. All my life, I’ve found this obnoxious. My father never knows where his clothes are and never decides what he’s going to wear—that is, unless he’s working on cars in the garage. He says that when they first got married, my mother was always so critical of his…   …read more.

Do Men Snore More?

The other night I had a dream that I was in a speaker shop buying top-of-the-line speakers for my home studio. I tested them out and they delivered crisp and pristine sound. When I got them home, however, there was this intermittent buzz that kept rolling through them. It was like a crackle, or a fuzz, or something that seemed…   …read more.

Valentine's Stars

    Today is Valentine’s Day, at least in Western countries. It always falls on February 14th and so the marketing machines only take a few weeks to rest from Christmas before they gear up for the holiday of hearts, flowers, chocolates and lingerie. The colour red is ever-present. Everyone from children to old married couples celebrate this festival in…   …read more.

Do Red & Pink Match?

Today is “Chinese New Year’s Eve” day and the red decorations are everywhere. I happen to be in the same city where we had our most formal wedding celebration (Zibo 淄博) and, thus, I have been thinking back to the wedding day decor. Like Chinese New Year, red is an important colour at Chinese weddings. Red lanterns are hung and,…   …read more.

Slinking into the "Year of the Snake"

This weekend, we leave for Shandong, Guo Jian’s home province, to “guònián 过年”or (literally) “to pass the new year.” 2013’s lunar new year (also called “spring festival”) falls on Sunday February 10th, so it’s time to go home for the holidays. It will be my fifth Chinese New Year in China. I found myself on a horoscope site today that…   …read more.

Wedding Day Chronicles — Part 4

DRY SMILES I still haven’t finished telling you about the first (and main) wedding. It alone could be a novel. Where did we leave off? Oh yes, the noodle ceremony. If you haven’t read about it yet, here’s the link to that spectacle. After the noodle ceremony, we were whisked back downstairs for photo after photo that made our teeth…   …read more.

Food Sharing

In a Chinese dining experience, dishes are served communally. They are placed in the center of the table and everyone reaches their chopsticks forward to partake. Each person generally has a small bowl of rice in their hands, which serves to complement the savory dishes as a staple food but also serves as a handy drip catcher before the food…   …read more.

Ex-pat Christmas Rant

It’s coming up on Christmas and I have left the land of the non-celebrators behind, finally. You see, since moving to China, this is the first year I’ve come home for the holidays. I had to. I had to get away from their absence. People don’t celebrate Christmas in China. There’s a small Christian minority that probably celebrates it privately,…   …read more.

Verbal Bullets

“What the hell is your problem?” “I’m not the one with the problem! You are!” >SLAM< >SLAM<   Ever had a fight like that with the person you are supposed to be in love with? I never knew how closely culture was linked to how a person handles verbal conflict. That is, I never knew until I was in a…   …read more.

Rusty Processing Tools

Last year, I had a fairly significant conflict with a friend of mine (who is also queer) and we proceeded to “talk about it” for what became a torturous couple of months. We’re good friends, so we wanted to make sure the other was understood and that all aspects were discussed. Through in-person conversations and emails and phone calls, we…   …read more.

Bodily Sounds

One of my ex girlfriends had a “thing” about body sounds. By that, I mean she couldn’t stand “loud breathers” or “lip smackers.” If we sat in a restaurant next to anyone who was a “wheezer” or who made any slurping or lip noises while eating, we had to move. I grew up with a sister who was frequently ill…   …read more.

Wedding Day Chronicles — Part 3

THE NOODLE CEREMONY After the dawn portion of our wedding celebration that I wrote about here, we were scuttled up to Guo Jian’s parent’s apartment and whisked into the “marriage bedroom,” or their spare room that was decorated with our photo above the bed, framed, and a new RED bedspread, the marriage colour. I was told to sit at the…   …read more.

Exclamative Particle Theory

There were several language foibles between Guo Jian and I in the beginning of our relationship, some of which I have already written about (like in this blog about the “green beans”!) but the “哼” issue seemed to take a ridiculously long time to resolve. We still laugh about it five years later. When we first got together, my Chinese…   …read more.

Raise A Toast!

On my second trip to Shandong (山东), my partner’s home province, his family asked me if I knew how to cook. Truthfully, I’m an average cook and I don’t really enjoy cooking, but I could see an anxious look in my mother-in-law’s expectant eyes. They flickered a warning to tread lightly in my response. I expressed that I’m not bad…   …read more.

Jealous Storms

I admit that I’m judgmental of jealousy. I see it as a surface mask for more truthful emotions beneath its glare. Namely fear. Fierce lightening fear. Branching off from fear is insecurity, like splintered tree limbs that have been singed and struck by that same lightning. All together, the solid base of love gets rocked by this storm and it’s not worth it.

Music as Matchmaker

People often ask me how it is I could have fallen in love with someone when we didn’t speak the same language. At first I would explain that through my remedial Chinese and his odd English words, we managed to struggle slowly with conversations while limping on my little red pocket-sized Chinese-English dictionary. Then it occurred to me that we…   …read more.

Power Tools

There is something about power tools that gets dykes all tingly. They’re the ultimate “butch” display, especially when they’re paired with a well-stocked toolbox and <gasp!> a bulging tool belt. At least, this is what I’ve witnessed. Having performed at several women’s festivals over the years, it was always the women with the tools who got the most respect, like…   …read more.

Pining & Whining

Recently, a friend quietly confided in me when we crossed paths in Toronto. It was the night of my gig there this past summer and, though our conversation may not have even lasted ten minutes, it was poignant. She said that returning to Toronto after several years of not living in the city was bittersweet. That the city has a…   …read more.

Gorilla Lights

We live on both the 5th and 6th floor—the top—of an old apartment building here in Beijing. Our apartment is a split-level so there’s an upstairs and a downstairs. There is no elevator in our building. There are 84 steps that lead up to our main door. Because of our two-floor apartment, there are another 14 steps on the inside…   …read more.

Wedding Day Chronicles — Part 2

Everything about my first and main wedding day (there were three!) reminds me of a series of made-for-stage vignettes. The day itself was so full of action, but the moments were so singular in each scene–so distinct. If I were to stage the show, I’d start it with that restaurant scene from this blog, I think. Followed up by the…   …read more.

Trip Wires

On one of our early visits back to Shandong, I really got a taste of China’s one-child policy. Critics argue that among other negative repercussions of this policy (that was implemented in 1979) is the huge population of full-grown little princes and princesses that China has now produced. The first wave of these spoiled kids are all around age 30…   …read more.

Rescue Remedy

I stepped off of the bus and realized just a millisecond before my foot hit the pavement that I was getting out at the wrong stop. There was a stream of people behind me, so even a moment of hesitation would have caused a serious domino-effect collision, so I just kept going. After the cascade of people had fanned out…   …read more.

Dyke Cousin: Part 3

I wrote about my dyke cousin (by marriage) in an earlier blog posting. To read the previous parts 1 & 2, please check out this post. Wang Yin and I had still never spent anytime alone together when I came to Shandong the third time, which was when Guo Jian and I got married. Only two years after we’d met…   …read more.

Chosen Family

Please excuse my delayed posting this month. We’re on vacation in Canada and it’s so lovely here that I’ve been distracted.  I’ve been a slacker and enjoying every second of it! 🙂 ***********************************************************************************   When I found myself in a full-fledged relationship with Guo Jian, I realized quickly that I was also in a relationship with his parents. I think…   …read more.

Body Juggle

I find that relationships are a bit like juggling props. They have the same function; they’re thrown in the air of our lives and shuffled in our hands, but they’re all different shapes and sizes and weights. And in my case, suddenly, they’re different genders. When we drop one relationship and pick up another, we discover they have different problems…   …read more.

Visa Nightmares

I’m going to write this piece from the present and work my way backwards, unlike the rest of this blog. The moral of the story will appear at the end, as they tend to in stories. It’s July 2012 and we are struggling to get Guo Jian to Canada for his third visit. His Canadian visa is all secure. As…   …read more.

Thin Ice?

When I came to Beijing in 2007, I still had a partnership back home with my ex-girlfriend. When people asked me questions in Chinese about my life back home, I remember looking around furtively for the gender-neutral expressions of partnership in this language, especially since I had just encountered this culture and was in protective mode. I was afraid of…   …read more.


If there’s a low-hanging light fixture in your home, Guo Jian is sure to bump his head on it. If there’s an uneven step on your stairway, Guo Jian is sure to trip up it ….or down it… or both. If you’re carrying something that’s obviously precarious and you don’t verbally warn him, he is sure to not notice that…   …read more.

A Bicycle Built For Two

As I mentioned in this blog, the morning portion of the Chinese wedding tradition seemed to strike me as the most fun. At least, with a design twist, that is. As I was assembling my psychological armour for this event, I would classify the morning as my helmet: it kept me sane. In traditional Chinese culture, the wedding event starts…   …read more.

Queer Witness

As I mentioned in this blog, I started panic when the wedding bobbed its enormous, spinning head on the horizon. I remember also feeling like I was on a collision course with it and I began to look around desperately for crash pads and a helmet and culturally appropriate armour—appropriate to my culture. And what culture is that? I’m Western,…   …read more.

Alien Green Beans

Fumbling in a second language (or third, in my case) often has its moments of hilarity. I wish I could have written them all down. By now, I’m more than functional in Mandarin and the hilariousness has calmed down, but back in the first couple of years of being in China, I must have had cause to laugh at language…   …read more.

The Dress Mess

The issue of the dress quickly became a mess, one that I liken to knocking over coloured paints onto the floor and watching the cultural collisions swirl into each other, the colours all powerless in the merge. I got fitted for a qipao 旗袍 or Chinese silk gown about a month before the wedding. My mother-in-law and I chose a…   …read more.

Meek or Mute?

Back in the first year with Guo Jian, when my Chinese was so remedial, he and I would sometimes spend long chunks of time in silence. We would walk together without words or enjoy a meal with only exchanged smiles between us and the occasional “hhm” or “ah-ha” about the food. Back then, we often used music to communicate. We…   …read more.

Wedding Planning?

After we got engaged and the hustle and bustle of the proposal settled down, I realized exactly why I didn’t ever want to get married. Despite having proclaimed that I “didn’t believe in marriage” in the past—mostly as an opposition to the (then) “officially unrecognizable” nature of my same-sex unions by the government—the thing that I really didn’t believe in,…   …read more.

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