At the end of 2019, I came to Manchester to study. At that age, I didn’t know how to love myself and accept myself as an LGBTQ+ person. I still remember when I first arrived in Manchester it was Manchester Pride. The whole city was in rainbow, and most of the people walking down the street were smiling, and looking positive. Deep down in my heart, I wanted to join Pride, but I was too shy and didn’t know how to release my inner self. After two years of study, I have more confidence in communication and am eager to integrate into the local social environment, especially like the way people work, social events, or simply just grab a drink to make some new friends. This eagerness to integrate into local life makes me often question myself; why I didn’t come to the UK a few years earlier, and why I was not born British. During that time, I was disgusted and refused to discuss my past self. As for my Chinese friends, I was “too white”, and for my local friends, I was “too Asian”. I was not in a good place for myself. Now it seems that everyone is looking for the part they don’t have, and this is understandable. But I was completely lost and unable to reconcile with my past self. As time went by, I gradually settled down in Manchester and slowly realized that as a Chinese person, I should be proud of my background. Even if I didn’t like my previous life, I still can be proud of it now. Tell people where I come from. Then I had the opportunity to work with LGBT Foundation. I’ve worked on some social media posts, Chinese New Year posts, and animation for sexual health. Also, they were very welcomed me to go into their office. When I was in the office, everyone there was so friendly and came to say hi to me and ask my pronouns, it made me feel respected in here. Colleagues there are so diverse, we have different races, sexualities and genders.
September is East Asian and South East Asian Heritage Month. As a person from China, I can now proudly say that I come from China. Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to feel welcomed in some of these social events like queer-friendly hiking clubs, gay badminton groups etc., where there has always been an understanding that there are many ways to be, as well as look, East/South East Asian, and all these are valid, valued and celebrated.
This year, I was honoured to be invited to join the parade in Manchester Pride with LGBT Foundation. Now I am surrounded with joy and love in the parade, all the struggle in the past is gone. No matter where you come from, all welcome. Look back at four years ago, that shy boy has grown up.
As this September is East and South East Asian Heritage Month, I want to tell people who are new here, that no matter where you came from, be proud of your Heritage, your life is valued, and every story in the past made you to be the true you. Whatever the life you choose, live to the fullest! Of course, we will have struggles in our life, but that’s ok, you are still a wonderful person, who is valued to live your own life.
So, I’m really looking forward to more people becoming aware of ESEA Heritage Month, and be proud of who you are, speak loud, live proud!
Patrick He is a freelance digital media designer, for more information about Patrick’s work visit: www.patrickhe.co.uk