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!