China Pride’s Wicki Huang

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Wicki Huang is one of the founding members of China Pride, an Auckland based non-profit organisation for Chinese LGBT+ people in Aotearoa. She tells us about growing up in China, moving to New Zealand and China Pride’s plans for 2022.

Tell us about yourself: where did you grow up, how was growing up for you and how was ‘coming out’ for you?

I was born in Beijing and spent most of my childhood between the city of Guangzhou, and Beijing which is located roughly 2,000 miles away.

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Back in the 80s, it took more than two days to travel from one city to another by train and most people did not have the luxury of time nor funding to do it frequently. These two cities are my parents’ hometowns, so I got dragged between them.

For me, it is always hard to decide which one is my true hometown, which can be confusing for a small kid, but the benefit is also obvious. I feel I have the privilege of choice. This gives me my ‘rebel’ thinking that despite being raised in a typical Chinese family where parents often have specific ideas of what kind of person you should be when you grow up, I have my own options too.

When I was 17 I went back to Beijing for university and for the first time I had the opportunity to experience the city through my own eyes. At university, mt friends and I started the first campus website, which had a channel for homosexual related topics. I found myself being very interested in this channel and the thoughts shared by other people, mostly anonymously, but I felt that to some degree I resonated with what they said.

Being a traditional Chinese girl, I did not dig further as to why I felt like this and the website was eventually taken down a year. I was back on track of being a “normal” Chinese girl, graduated, found a job and settled down in a big city.

I think I would never have my “coming out” moment if I hadn’t come to New Zealand, which is a magical place that somehow guides you to find your true self.

Wicki Huang (right).

After experiencing some relationships, I am very certain about who I was, but had not “come out” to my father.

I asked him, ‘what if your daughter never married a man?’ He answered, “then you will have to be able to do everything yourself.”

I then asked what if I want to spend my life with another girl. After a long silence, my father finally said: “it is not ideal… but as long as this is what you want.”

When my tears almost burst out, my father added: “but you might want to keep it to yourself.”

It’s like in the Eastern movies, two martial art masters have mutually decided who won their battle without letting the audiences see whether they have drawn the swords.

I am not sure I won the battle, but I am just glad that I have told him the truth, without hurting (too much of) his feelings.

What do you do and where are you based now?

I work in a professional service firm and I am based in Tamaki Makautau (Auckland).

When did you first start China Pride and what inspired you to start it?

It started as a small gathering of fewer than 20 people. We just wanted to meet some friends who share our identities and understand our stories.

In March 2019, after the horrific attack in Christchurch, a few of us thought that we should also do something as this hatred towards religions, can also target races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, or anything people might form an inaccurate and stereotypical idea of without really understanding it.

I shared my thoughts with my friends and we all agreed that we should form an organisation to unite other Chinese LGBTIQ+ people like ourselves and to build a bridge of understanding between us and other communities in NZ.

There are 16 of us who signed their names on the document and China Pride NZ was officially born on 19 March 2019.

How has Covid affected the China Pride festival so far?

The team was devastated when we had to cancel the China Pride Festival for the second time due to lockdowns in February 2021. Our team of 24 had been working for weeks planning and organising these events, including our very first China Pride Gala and the China Pride Night Market, which we had amazing support from Britomart and Westpac, and were going to present the traditional Chinese culture right in the centre of the CBD.

Due to unpredictable risks, we had to cancel these two large events but we managed to launch three smaller ones, including a mental health painting workshop hosted by Danyang Wang, a queer movie night hosted by Shu Wang and an online gym session, which I was fortunate enough to participate in person as the trainee with my coach Lorraine. It was one hell of a session. Literally hell!

What are your plans for China Pride in 2022?

Due to the uncertainties brought on by lockdowns, our focus has been shifted to online meetings and gatherings during the second half of 2021. We expect that this trend will continue at least during the first quarter of 2022.

We will continue our existing online programmes such as mental health workshops, the “one-week couple” events and virtual meet-ups.

With regards to the off-line events, we will continue follow the government’s guidelines and see what events are safe to host.

Our dream is still that we will be able to launch the China Pride Gala and have a great night to celebrate with other rainbow communities and our supporters.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing LGBT+ Chinese in Aotearoa?

A lot of our members are tackling not just the bias towards LGBT+ but also those made based on their ethnicity. As such they will need more support and courage to step out and step up.

Wicki Huang.

Another challenge most of our members are facing is the visa application. Sometimes they are asked to provide supporting documents and information which is difficult to have due to their cultural background.

For example, family support is not a given for Chinese gay couples. In fact, gaining family support and understanding is itself one of the biggest challenges for a lot of our people.

What can non-Chinese members of the LGBT+ communities in NZ do to help?

One of the things that I learnt through planning our China Pride Festival last year is the amount of help other rainbow communities are willing to give, which is fantastic.

Due to our cultural background, a lot of us are “quiet strugglers” who are either reluctant to ask for help or are bad at doing so. Showing a bit more support and understanding that not all of us grow up in a similar environment or have the privilege of choice, will open a lot more hearts.

We love the rainbow as it is bright and colourful and it is bold. But even the most beautiful rainbow has a darker colour and might show up only after heavy rain.

Just let it shine in its own time!

Visit chinapride.org.nz for more information.

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