Queer Girl Gets Married

Rationale Meets Irrational

http://youtu.be/yjG4rA2GzRk Welcome to my new blog “Queer Girl Gets Married.” I’ve decided to start this blog for a few reasons and here is #1: First of all, I am not the only one. There are lots of people with sexual orientations other than heterosexual who find themselves married to someone of the opposite sex. Let’s rephrase that: who choose to…   …read more.

Cougars & Goatees

When I first met Guo Jian, I had already noticed him. I was in a music venue in Beijing called “Mao Live House” in June of 2007. I had just performed with my American friend Traci’s (now ex-)boyfriend’s band. I played three songs, one of which was backed up by her boyfriend’s band members after only one really casual rehearsal…   …read more.

Triangular Skirts

One of the most common discussions that queer women have when we first get together is about our past relationships. We talk about our exes, what we’ve learned, what we hated about the dynamics, what we wish had been different. We often talk about the ex-ex-exes too and string each experience together like a series of episodes in a complex…   …read more.


The second time I met Guo Jian was on my second journey to China. I was three days into my trip. I had arranged to meet my friend Traci at a local folk music bar and she felt like a beacon in my fog. I didn’t really know why I had come back. There was some sort of invisible magnetism…   …read more.

Why I Don't Identify As Bisexual

I wrote an article last year that was published in Herizons Magazine called “Corridors of Queer.” It was more of an academic piece and less of a story like this blog. Still, it was about this very topic and its intent was to bring to light the experiences of women like myself who have chosen to be with men but…   …read more.

Training Woes

When I finally got to know him better—again, through Traci and her boyfriend and her group of musician friends—it was with music that we communicated the most. It was our common fluent language. He invited me to some jams. I met lots of other players. He invited me to hear some traditional music and to see some Chinese instruments played….   …read more.

Salt & Pepper

We were sitting in a vegetarian restaurant talking, me with my dictionary in my hands and him with his patience and sparse smattering of English words for linguistic emergency. He was explaining the core meaning of the Tai Chi Yin-Yang symbol to me. He grabbed the salt & pepper shaker from the table. (These are rare on Chinese tables, but…   …read more.

Heart Pastures

Now, just to catch you all up, I’m going to insert a little additional context to this storytelling. First of all, I’m going backwards in time here. I’m telling the story chronologically. I came to China for the first time in the late spring of 2007 and stayed for 3 months. During that time, I noticed but didn’t get to…   …read more.

Roller Coasters

The last few weeks of my second trip to China included a lot of hanging out Guo Jian. I wasn’t taking it very seriously, though. He represented a sort of sugar-high daydream that China had become for me—liberty, foreign culture, exploration, healing—that I knew logically was soon to be doused with the cold Canadian reality of my established life and…   …read more.


I love my ex-partner very much. We were together for nine and a half years and had a lot of great times. We grew up together. As I’ve mentioned, we were also in an open relationship, a decision that suited us both—sometimes one more than the other—and remained a consistent feature in our partnership for the full duration. I have…   …read more.


Sometimes it all has to fall apart for it to feel whole. It’s when you have nothing—nothing in the way you’ve been previously conditioned to value your worth—when you realize how much wealth you really possess. Sometimes it’s in the breaking that you finally heal, in your heart, in your sense of loving yourself or at least truly accepting yourself…   …read more.

Waterfall Rainbows

So, as you have read by now, that December 2007, my long-term relationship ended. It created a cascade of closure crashing around me, the effects of which I liken to trying remain standing upright at the foot of a waterfall. By March, after a spontaneously cancelled Australian tour left a gap in our pre-booked show schedule, I bought another flight…   …read more.

U-Haul Straight Boy

That spring of 2008 when I came to China to really see if we had a shot, when it came to the living situation, Guo Jian acted like a U-Haul lesbian. At least years of being surrounded by that community behaviour—where new lovers would move in together within a month or two—meant that I could recognize it, if nothing else….   …read more.


Back in the late 90’s, I used to nickname my mailing list “signees” this cute play on words: “M-Embers,” that is until a male friend made a joke about how much that nickname made him think about genitalia. I was mortified! I promptly stopped using that in my (then just postal) mailings about my shows. I’m admitting this because I…   …read more.

Dyke Cousin: Parts 1 & 2

I know this is a blog about my partnership and the courtship that eventually led to my decision to get married to this creature known as Guo Jian. But, if this is a full story then you sometimes need some sub characters. Guo Jian’s cousin is one of those characters. She plays a role in this story of identity, identity…   …read more.


Why do men seemingly feel no sense of urgency when it comes to changing boxers or socks? We fought. When one of us made dinner, didn’t it make sense for the other to do the dishes? He agreed to this, reluctantly, but never agreed to a timeline on the task. Sometimes two or three days went by before he actually…   …read more.

The Second Coming (Out)

Sometimes love is revelatory, not unlike religion… Seems fitting to post this one right after the Christmas holidays! Here’s hoping your holidays have been wonderful and I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year! -es ****************************************************************************************************** After the three-month living together experience in China that spring of 2008 was over, I went back to Canada. At the…   …read more.

Crossing Over

Sorry for the delayed posting of this regular blog, but it’s been a big week! This is a regular series that tells the retrospective story of my current partnership, but the current version of this story includes the recent birth of our new little girl! So, thankfully, I had per-written this posting before she arrived on Monday and so I’m…   …read more.

The Argument for Marriage

As I’ve spoken about already, we started living together before we got married. Guo Jian wasn’t comfortable with it. It’s still a new concept in China and even though he’s a modern guy who looks like he stepped off the streets of Toronto with his dreadlocks and stage-ready stance, he is still a product of his culture. Up until just…   …read more.

The Great Toilet Seat Debate

When I read Lindsy Van Gelder’s “The Great Personhole Cover Debate,” I was seventeen and in my last year of high school. I remember the essay so well. It opened my eyes to the obvious injustices of gendered language that exist in my everyday—injustices that I had never noticed or worried about until that moment. And, as a lover of…   …read more.

Proposals & Explosions

Chinese New Year 2012 has just come and gone. Happy year of the dragon! I want to wish all my readers a happy new year and hope that this is an amazing year for you all–one to remember and one to look back on fondly. It’s fitting that I’m posting this story now as it happened exactly 3 years ago…   …read more.

Locked in Dread

After the New Year celebration was over in 2009 and I was back in Beijing, my six months in the country (my longest stretch up until that date) were coming to an end. I found myself packing my bags to head back to Canada with a sense of… well, there’s no other word: dread. I was going home with a…   …read more.

Remember or Never Forget? (Part 1)

Back in the first wave of being with Guo Jian in late 2007, before anything ever changed in my life in a dramatic and drastic spun-out way, back when I realized that I had fallen in love with someone who had these strange body parts called testicles (and they’re really funny looking things, I have to say!) and I was…   …read more.

Remember or Never Forget? (Part 2)

That night after the perfect morning in Beijing in early December of 2007, I dreamed of us on that same bed waking up in the morning light, and then a small child of about three years old running from the other room and bounding into bed with us as though we were the child’s parents. I remember the dream clearly…   …read more.

Bitterness Valves

One of the first people I shared the news of my engagement with (after my family, that is) was my ex-partner. I wanted her to know before the news found her along the grapevine. Grapevines can strangle trust. Besides, we had been best friends for over twelve years (our relationship plus our earlier friendship) and I wanted such an important…   …read more.

Pleasantries & Peace

There are certain words in the English language that, in Western culture, are fairly important for peaceful relations between people. They are “thank-you,” “sorry,” “excuse me” and other less important but equally pleasant additions like “good morning,” “good night,” “How was your day?” etc. Between lovers, the most important one is, “I love you.” In Chinese culture, words like the…   …read more.


I had no idea how important wearing rings would be to me until Guo Jian resisted the idea. After our engagement in his hometown that New Year’s, 2009, I bought him a ring from the jewelry department in a fancy local mall. It was a simple gold band with some silver inlay that he really liked and that suited his…   …read more.

Absentee Confetti

Getting married in China is not officially the fanfare and the ceremony; first you have to “dengji登记.” This is the act of getting your marriage certificate and, often, is all people do to signify their union. The next stage—a wedding—is a choice. In Chinese the expression is to “ban shi 颁示” or “make it public.” Some people get married but…   …read more.

Tomb Sweeping

The first time “Tomb Sweeping Day” arrived in China while I was there, I had no idea what people were talking about. Guo Jian described it as China’s “Hallowe’en” and I was expecting costumes and candy. It was spring of 2009 and we were back to visit his parents in Shandong. As per the translation of the holiday (Qing Ming…   …read more.

Getting Naked

  On my second trip back to Guo Jian’s hometown, the family announced one night that we should all go to the bathhouse. I had experienced a Chinese spa before and so I imagined a similar environment of whirlpools and various scented hot tubs. Basically, a collective bathing experience between men and women—in swimsuits. When we arrived at the place,…   …read more.


Ever since I came out, the discussion of butch/femme has been a common one in the queer community. It seems to have lessened over the years as a central identity point, meaning: people don’t seem as hung up about it as they used to be. Then again, that could just be my particular perspective. In the fifties, the gay community…   …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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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