Some excerpts from an interview with Crystal Jang for API Equality Northern California’s Dragon Fruit Project collecting oral histories of LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander people:
CJ: It wasn’t until the late seventies that I started to think about having children. And as I
figured out my lesbian identity, I started to think a little about what it would be like to have a
child, because I sort of missed it and my friends were having children. And you know, I like
kids, because I was a teacher, as well. And that’s why I went into teaching, because I loved
kids. But as a lesbian, I was also cognizant that the courts were really not on our side.
CJ: So, faced with that, it gave me great pause in thinking about is it possible for me, as a
lesbian, to have kids at all and to not be faced with them being taken away? Because that’s a great fear. Or of losing my job as a teacher, which I have always wanted to be a teacher.
So those types of things really weighed heavily on my mind and decision making process
CJ: I have three brothers, and my parents were fourth generation
Asian American, but they were still very steeped in Chinese tradition. So it was all about
family. Before when I was just in, not just in, but I was in lesbian relationships, and I would
bring my partners home for dinner and attend family gatherings, it was like we were an
other. We were just like, not part of the family. We were on the fringes because my brothers
got married traditionally, heterosexual relationships. They had children. Asian families are all
about having children and grandchildren and legacy passed on. And I wasn’t really a part of
that, until I became a parent.
We, Sydney and I, had a child. Then all of a sudden, we were just part of the family. And we
could share our experiences with my brothers and my mother became very enamored by
our child. She was a grandmother to our child. She really embraced Cameron. As a matter
of fact, Cameron is her favorite grandchild now, so it’s really wonderful. So that was a big
change in the way I was perceived, or we were perceived in our family, our traditional family.
CJ: As a parent, you won’t
realize until you are. And nobody can tell you, ever prepare you for the ride that you’re going
to have because it’s ups and downs. Lots of joys and sadness, disappointments and it’s
nothing you can control. You think you might want to control things, but it’s totally out of your
control. You can have parameters. You can have resources available, but emotionally it’s
out of your control. I’ve had my heart broken, just been totally upset. She may not be the
activist I want her to be, but she’s her own person. And I think that’s the main thing, that you
allow them to really find their own path, with guidance.