21 In Love

Interracial Relationships

Back when I was at University I dated a Chinese boy. That was in 1997.

He was a nice guy who had the same interest in creative writing as me and was studying Radio Broadcasting with a good friend of mine. We hit it off. He made me laugh. He also wanted to read my writing. No one had ever wanted to read my writing before. It was terrifying. And then he asked me out. That was even more terrifying, as I’d never had a boyfriend before. I decided to take the plunge and said yes.

For our first date he took me to dinner at a quaint little Italian restaurant in Fremantle. I don’t remember much else, apart from one thing – the looks we were getting from most people. I mean, a pale red-head girl and a tall, lanky Chinese boy sitting at the same table in a romantic restaurant – how so? What could they possibly see in each other? Why? I’m sure there were a whole lot of other thoughts going through those people’s brains. Asian guy stealing a white girl? What does she see in him? How dare he? What the F@ck is going on there? You get the picture.

Those looks continued throughout our brief relationship, and I couldn’t quite understand it back then as to me we are all people. I knew it existed though, the racism. I mean, I suspected that my folks would have a fit. It was everywhere. And when I met his mother and she called me an ‘evil Western girl’ who would ‘corrupt‘ her good Chinese son – well, I couldn’t quite understand that either.

We didn’t last long, but it wasn’t because of those ‘against’ us. It was because I wasn’t ready for a relationship, and had issues to deal with (plus I preferred him as a friend, minus the complications of intimacy and all that guff).

So it was a surprise when, whilst out at lunch with D, we got looks. D had gone up to the counter to order, and I was sitting in the sun, soaking it and my newly unemployed freedom up. I looked over to D, glowing with this strange feeling (happiness?), and there was a woman looking from me, to D, back to me, to D, back to me, to D. She had a look of confusion combined with slight distaste on her face. I caught her eye and gave her a look that hinted at the following:

‘Yes – a pale, redheaded white woman AND a brown Anglo-Indian man TOGETHER at lunch…’

In this day and age in the world we live in – especially in Australia which is as multi-cultural as they come – you would think we wouldn’t get these looks still.

Over the expanse of our 10 years together, the ‘looks’ have decreased. Or so I like to think. D doesn’t think they have. I do have my moments when I catch people staring and complain that I must have grown an extra head or have 6 eyes, or that we are just damn good looking! And yes, at times it does bother me, especially when we are out and about with D’s kids and I see people looking at us trying to work us all out. But as more and more people enter interracial relationships, the easier it gets. Which is why when we do get stared at it comes as such a surprise… after all, I think we are just normal!

  • Amanda
    September 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Oh yeah, that sounds like a familiar story. As much as Australia likes to think it is ‘multicultural’, the racial prejudices are still rife in this country. Most of my friends are expats and interracial relationships are normal, but I still notice the ‘looks’. It’s frustrating in this day and age, but not uncommon.

  • Hocam
    September 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I have a young Turkish male friend. If we go out for a coffee together we certainly get looks. People immediately assume we are more than friends and we get the “ah, another poor old slapper being taken in by the young visa geezer” look. It makes being out together an uncomfortable experience for both of us. You feel an unreasonable need to explain!

    • neanster77
      September 12, 2011 at 9:15 am

      Amazing – so many challenges to where you live…but I guess attitudes like that can be experienced anywhere (i.e. having coffee with a man at work…kickstarts that good ole office gossip something fierce!).

  • Marie
    September 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Loved this post and your Beauty of Difference series. My oldest son is bi-racial (we think), you see all 4 of my kids are adopted. Even though none of my kids are biologically related to each other, 3 of them look alike. But my heart breaks for my oldest when strangers single him out and say he looks different. Although it’s funny, I’ve had the complete opposite happen too and a woman in the airport commented he was the one who looked most like me. Although I don’t know if a 12 year old boy really likes being told he looks like his mom…..oh well.

    • neanster77
      September 12, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Thank you Marie.

      It is funny how people react isn’t it (well – not funny…but I choose to be amused these days). We kind of have the same experiences as Denis has 2 children, and they look like him. The looks we get when we are out shopping together – the puzzled faces trying to piece everything together. I am quietly chuffed when I get referred to as their Mum.

  • kylie
    September 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Hi Janine, Think of it this way that women was probably looking at the two and realised that you would have attractive children and was probably green with envy. I have to agree with Amanda on this one, we as Australian’s we are still blinded by prejudice and tend have blinkers when it comes to inter-racial couples. The most important people in your lives have seen the beauty in your relationship so I wouldn’t give a toss what anybody else thought.

    • neanster77
      September 12, 2011 at 9:12 am

      Oh Kylie – that reminds me of this last weekend when we were out grocery shopping with Den’s kiddies. The looks we get – from them to me to Den and back hehe. I must admit I am quietly chuffed when people refer to me as their Mum…not that I want to be their Mum as they have one…but it’s nice.

  • Muriel
    September 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Janine I wouldn’t worry about how people look at you. I have learned not to care any more. People can think whatever they like, I have reached this point in my life where I decide what to do!
    Some people just need to judge, it is in their DNA.

    • neanster77
      September 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

      Oh I don’t worry too much these days. I go with Den’s thought that we are a ‘stunning’ couple hehe. And now, in m 30’s, I walk proud, instead of with my head down and shoulders sunken – for man reasons, one that I actually like the way I look now and am confident within myself.

  • cath
    September 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    The only thing that came to my mind when I saw your photo, is what a handsome couple you are! Even though my hub and I are both Caucasian, I live in a small rural neighborhood in the south, and was ostracized somewhat when my kids started school. It dumbfounded me that people would judge me as different because I grew up in California!

    • neanster77
      September 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

      Oh thank you Cath. The pic was a couple of years old (how time flies) but I love it. It was a good hair day for both of us hehe.
      Amazing that you were ostracised because you grew up in California?!?!?! The world is indeed a confusing place.

  • Barbara
    September 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Good looking couple, full stop, hair what hair?

  • Piri
    September 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Janine this is so lovely, and I’m glad someone has finally written about this! The Australian experience of inter-race relationships- it’s crazy!! Someone commented about this: Australia is just “multicultural” on paper. The amount of bigotry around never ceases to amaze me! If you were in Europe no one would even blink an eyelid, lol. You guys are too good looking – they’re just jealous 😉

    • neanster77
      September 18, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      Aw thanks Piri 🙂 hehe
      Sometimes I find it hard the fathom that Australia is part of this century, with the bigotry, sexism, racism, etc that is still present in today’s society. I guess in a way, it makes us stronger, but sheesh! We WILL change it…

  • Sherry Zander
    September 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Very inspirational and I can fully relate. I remember the first time I ate out with a black friend in a larger city nearby. Fellow patrons stole glances at us throughout our meal. I didn’t notice it at first, but my friend did and brought it to my attention. I don’t think the people meant to be rude, but the local area just wasn’t racially diverse at all at that time, so my friend was an anomaly rather than the norm. Today, however, that same area is plastered with racial diversity and even has its own unique cultural areas. I can’t imagine anyone reacting the same way today as they did back then.

  • Laura Gillette
    April 23, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Hi~I’m a redhead of European descent that’s lived in India for almost 11 years! My husband and I were working on a tribal development project in Raipur district, Chhattisgarh state where the locals said we were the only foreigners who had lived there for about the past 100 years. I tried hard to adapt, serving chai, dressing in the full salwar kameez with chunni. But, sure, I had tough times with harassment from the young men, and was even chased across 2 empty fields by some college guys who were our neighbors! On the other side of the coin, I would say that we had a few families we had gotten to know that would have laid down their lives to help us if we were ever in severe danger. They knew I had 2 little toddlers! What? Anyway, now I’ve lived in Delhi for the past 8 years, and I love it. Still get cat calls just because of the fact I stand out, but hey, I just ignore it. We recently had a friend that we had met in Raipur 10 years ago visit us here. He was born in Raipur but grew up in Doha, Qatar. He and I got close because we love so many of the same things (my husband was very upset, sorry to say, so for that reason I’m relieved our friend had gotten a job in Africa). Whenever my Indian friend and I hung out in public here, I never noted any antagonism toward us. That was nice. I’ve learned to empathize with those who do face racial prejudism. In fact, my husband is Indian but European racially. So, it was very difficult for us to get his Person of Indian origin card. First of all the application we had sent in from San Fran. had apparently gotten lost, so my husband had to go in person to the offices in Delhi. The main government officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs here about 4 years ago looked at my husband and said, “Nahi, we will not give you the PIO card; you are a “gora aadmi”= a “white man”. Finally, we have been able to get Overseas Citizen of India cards for my husband and 3 blonde children. We are proud of it. I love your blog 🙂

    • neanster77
      April 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Wow Laura, thanks for taking the time to leave some an awesome comment / story of yourself. I really appreciate you sharing! And thanks for liking the blog 🙂 That means a lot.

      I’m so glad you have finally been able for your husband and kiddies! I’d love to read more / hear more about your experiences. Maybe consider guest posting for me sometime 🙂

      Janine

  • Abi
    October 4, 2012 at 3:40 am

    It’s really refreshing to see a piece like this. I’m currently in college, and I am of East-Indian heritage, and currently interested in a red head Caucasian guy. I’m nervous about pursuing it because of the looks that I’ve gotten in the past, dating men outside my race. Thank you for this article. It really puts things into perspective.

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