“Faith” Kong is a 1.5 generation Khmer/Cambodian lesbian born in the refugee camps in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime. She fled as a hungry baby with her parents to the US. Since then she has settled and grown up in South Seattle, WA, graduated with a Bachelors Degree with a double major in American Ethnic Studies and Speech Communication at University of Washington, and a Masters in Public Administration at Seattle University. She loves watching movies, surfing the Internet, being surrounded by nature, and sleeping. She and her partner are the co-creators of LesbeAsian.com, a website created for and by Asian lesbians.
Who? name, age, what you identify as (or not).
“Faith” Kong, 31, lesbian
I hold a lesbian feminist perspective and have found that the umbrella terms of queer and LGBTQ hold the assumption that we share the same values and experiences. I don’t believe this is true and feel that in queer labeled spaces, lesbian and/or women’s issues and identities are marginalized just as much, if not more, as in hetero-malestream spaces. Personally and politically, lesbian is a term that fits best with my values because it clearly sends the message that I am a woman who loves only women.
What do you do for a living or things you would like to do?
For about 10 years I managed/worked in alternative education and employment training programs for marginalized, at-risk youth and young adults. When I wasn’t working, I was doing a lot of organizing and volunteering – specifically within the Khmer community, for other youth organizations, and food banks. I decided last year that there had to be more to life than trying to save the world.
So I quit my job, took my savings, and traveled all throughout Asia with my partner for 6 months. Since then, I discovered within myself a wide variety of interests that I previously never had the time or opportunity to explore. This includes home repair, screenwriting, web design (hence LesbeAsian.com), and entrepreneurship. I have always loved running, hiking, cooking, and watching movies.
When did you come out? Any stories?
My coming out process has been incremental. I came out as bisexual to my closest friends when I was 20 years old, then identified as both bisexual and queer (using the term interchangeably) at the age of 27 with the folks I did community organizing with. When I was 29 years old I finally came to terms with my sexuality and came out to myself, my parents, and everyone else I knew as lesbian.
My parents were surprisingly supportive. The first question my mom asked was, “well is she cute?” haha. Both of my parents told me that as long as I was happy, they were happy for me. I’m not going to lie though – my mom did go and burn some incense and pray for me soon after.
How did coming out impact your career or relationships with others?
I was only out to a few employees of mine so being lesbian did not impact my career too much. Some of the students I worked with knew, and I believe it was a positive experience for them to see someone that they identified with working in the organization.
I am much more aware of myself, and the dynamics of homophobia and heterosexism, so I have had to end quite a few friendships. I have even distanced myself from people that I have called my friends for over 10 years because they have not been supportive of my relationship with my partner and/or my being lesbian. Unfortunately I have also had to distance myself from some queer spaces and people because they have not been inclusive or supportive of lesbians.
Advice you can give to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers.
My coming out process was more of a challenge internally than anything. Once I came to terms and realized who I really was, being proud of my identity and sharing that with others came easy. I do have to remind myself however, that not everyone has the ability to be out and feel safe. Not everyone has a support system or even a support person. To all the readers that feel isolated – You are not alone. There are others like you. We do exist and we are not going anywhere. For others that do have a support system in place and feel relatively safe, let us be as loud and visible as we can be for others who do not have that. LesbeAsian pho lyfe!
Check out Faith’s website here: LesbeAsian.com