The draw of an alternative lifestyle

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2005, 12:00am

Idrew my first cartoon when commissioned by a Chinese University lecturer to produce some work for a journal about gender and sexuality.

I put all my years of experience of the misconceptions of sexuality, and gender bias, into those four pages. At first, I thought the piece was too radical for most people. But instead, I received a lot of positive feedback, and that encouraged me to continue my work.

As a Chinese woman, and the youngest girl in my family, I was told that there were many limitations on what I could achieve. My parents did not have very high expectations and told me that I did not have to work very hard. They placed all their expectations on my elder brother, who had his own study in the loft, and had several private tutors. He went to a private school, while I attended a public school. I was told by my teacher that I should pursue my studies in the arts, but I did not have the resources to do so.

I did not know to question my parents. I just believed everything I was told. From being little, I worked very hard to be at the top in every field. I wanted to prove to them that I could do it and that I was worth the same kind of investment that they had put into my brother. But every time I received an award, my parents would tell me that it was luck. It took me nearly 20 years to recognise my own abilities.

I think a lot of talents are lost or lay undiscovered because of gender restrictions - the beliefs about what men and women should or should not do. When I went to school, women were supposed to be obedient. That doesn't make sense.

I have a consistent theme to my work. I express a lot of daily life experiences in drawings, giving readers a different perspective. I like to twist the angle in everyday things. We have many choices if we choose to look at things from a different perspective.

I have tried different lifestyles, including heterosexual and homosexual relationships. I am with a woman now, but I also married a man. I find that having a choice is a very good thing. My family - including my parents, who are in their 70s and 80s - is very supportive.

I have learned that sharing my own experiences is a way to support the gay movement. I am not heavily involved in promoting gay rights, but I see a more open and accepting society in general, with the exception of a group of Christian conservatives.

I go out, and I see lesbian couples holding hands. But Hong Kong lacks a large-scale survey of the gay and lesbian population. We do not know what kind of problems they face in this community.

I was a churchgoer several years ago, but I do not attend church in Hong Kong any more. One of my fears is that I would have to explain myself. I do not worry about discrimination but, rather, it is the time it would take to explain why I am a lesbian. I would have to put a lot of energy into it, and I do not want to. And if they decide that I am a sinner, what would I do then? I would feel bad, and I would feel like I am a sinner. That would not be very healthy for me, psychologically.

People always say that knowledge and traditions cannot change. I want to say that you can look at every single thing and every theory from your own perspective. You can choose how to act. There is no ultimate answer. I believe that you have to find your own answers, which come from you and you alone.

Lily Lau Lee-lee is a political cartoonist, visual artist and social commentator. Her work is currently on exhibition at Meta4 Design Forum in Causeway Bay until July 2