To celebrate this year’s Amsterdam Pride, we invited individuals from our Asian LGBTQ community in the Netherlands to tell us their stories.
What does that mean to them to be proud? What is their experience of discovering and accepting their own identities? What do they have to say to those who still need courage and reason to be true to themselves?
We believe it is crucial that their voices can be heard, so that everyone out there knows they’re never alone, because we always stand by each other. And together we shout out to the world:
Be spicy, be you.
Queers represent a big part of our team and we are always looking for a platform to express our stories. Last year during the pride, we came up with a story-telling portrait project – BE SPICY BE YOU. It is a non-profit project through which our brave LGBTQA+ friends share how they overcome obstacles and be proud of themselves. This year we have kept up the tradition and extended to a topic of Unconditional Love, where they shared the stories of their love.
Love is mutual, fluid, patient and unlimited. Love is reflected from ourselves and each other. Love is unconditional.
By the time we had dated for six months, I came out as transgender to both myself and the people around me as well. First, my closest friends, family, and also my boyfriend. That’s what was somehow weird because Jim identified himsef as a gay guy and also a trans person. So he did know what kind of struggle it could be. But for me, when I had this realisation, my entire world collapsed. Basically I had to rethink everything, to restructure my whole life around my gender.
For me, unconditional love means to stay with the ones you love without any condition. Just like Jim had to struggle quite a lot, but he still stayed with me and took care of me during that time. Back then we were both shocked.
He didn’t really sign up for this. I would totally understand if he wanted to break up. It was Covid time and we already moved in for six months, which felt like much longer. We really got to know each other a lot. So it was a very hard and uncertain moment for both of us. But I am still deeply in love with Jim. I would prefer to continue the relationship. And we did and I’m very happy.
When she came out, we were questioning each other. All I could feel at that moment, was fear, the fear of losing her. Because I was in love with her, with who she really was inside her body.
I think at that moment we were fixed together in our lives, so there was such a huge uncertainty all of a sudden. I was also scared, because the world is really unfair towards trans people, especially towards transgender woman, because of the patriarchy in our society. I could see everything, all the troubles that she could have gone through.
On the other hand, concerning my sexuality, I was unsure because I liked boys. I wondered what the situation was gonna be like. It was very painful at the same time, because I was very mad at myself. I’m a transman myself. I know she needs to be accepted for who she is, and to have the support of the people she loves. I thought I couldn’t give the whole thing to her and I felt very shitty about it. I actually called my mom. She told me something that is very beautiful. She said, “you love whatever the gender may be. Love is very powerful and can transcend gender and a lot of things.” So I think unconditional love is fluid, and is the love that we share.
In my opinion, there is no such relationship of a “must-love”. Not even between partners or parents or siblings. Unconditional love is a feeling or emotion that you don’t ask for anything in return. It is not delusional but rather the kind of love without expectation.
“I love you, and it’s OK if you don’t love me back”.
I have a friend who believes in the power of people, and the magnetic field between them.
She told me that there was a moment of realisation for her. She was holding someone in her arms and felt no matter how fucked up this person is, how sad the person might have made her feel, she would continue the love. This is unconditional love. I am also learning from her about how to love others.
Sun is always shining, for bad or for good, it is just shining without any conditions. For me, unconditional love is like the sun, without any expectation or even asking something, even expecting any reflection of what you’ve given to someone. But the first thing is we have to feel that love inside ourselves first to sense it, to taste the pureness of love. And then we can remove the conditions of love and share it like the sun.
I was struggling with seeking love for years. No one ever can give me that love. During COVID time, I was all alone at home. I had to deal with the loneliness and face my trauma, all the painful moments in the past. I wandered in my room with a lot of mirrors and I saw myself. There was a moment that suddenly something happened inside of me. I felt something and no one gave me that feeling.
It just appeared inside of me. It is the moment that I put my hand on the chest and feel my heartbeat. It keeps working 24/7, only for me. So does my whole body, every cell. This is unconditional. They only work for my existence. I think this is love. It’s always your power. After I found it, I could see it outside everywhere. It’s like your glasses have changed. This feeling actually forced me to art. Before that, I had no idea that I could make artwork. This transformation was too much. This realisation, the awareness of love, I couldn’t find words for this realisation and the awareness of love. That’s why I channel all the feelings and communication with myself through art.
To me unconditional love is the willingness to put a person before you and to love them for the core of their characters, rather than how they serve your purposes. It transcends beyond gender, race, class, or other constructed divisions. It’s different from blind love. In other words, It’s seeing someone as a person without the glamour of infatuation or urge to control them.
A moment when I’ve received unconditional love is my partner at the time walking through the rain to get a slice of mille crepe for me when I was dying in period cramps. Outside the sky was already tainted with darkness as the night fell, alongside the damp storming rain. There was no way I could pull myself out of the foetal position I’ve been in for the last two hours into the rain, and you can’t order a single slice of cake from the bakery. I was so thankful for that slice of heaven within my pain. It’s a small action of sacrifice but it meant so much to me at that time.
Unconditional love comes with an initiative; with no concern about self interests. When you embrace unconditional love, the only concern you have is how to fulfil one’s happiness and welfare. My mom always tries her best to make me and my sister’s life healthier and happier, even though she might sacrifice her own happiness.
However, all of the love comes from her understanding of what love should be. As for my love for her, I am also concerned from her point of view. Unconditional love makes me realise that even though we are born with a default mode of viewing the world with our own perspective, unconditional love requires us to switch to others’ point of view, to feel, to understand others’ thoughts and demands. I understand that coming out to her is a matter of patience.
That she might not accept it immediately is not because she won’t love me as my identity. It is because, from her perspective, the prejudgement and discrimination against LGBTQ+ community, especially surrounding her, are dangerous to me. She will worry about the circumstances that I will face. It is something out of her control and will make her feel miserable that I won’t be happy. Therefore, I’d rather wait patiently until the social values have gradually changed.
I don’t believe many people have experienced unconditional love. This is because, to be able to love unconditionally, you must first love yourself unconditionally. Why do we not give love to ourselves? It’s such a mystery to me. When my partner of 15 years left me, it forced me to learn to love myself fully and unconditionally. It was necessary to be able to move on. And, opening myself to unconditional self love opened up all new possibilities.
For 15 years, I was a lesbian. Everyone knew me as one half of this lesbian couple, both personally and professionally. When she left, it was like a veil was lifted. I looked inside myself and realized I had become trapped in my lesbian identity; I am pansexual and always have been, I just didn’t have a word for it (bisexual had never quite fit).
When I came to terms with this, I was able to love myself unconditionally as I was finally with my true self. That self is amazing, independent, confident, empathetic and with so much love to give and capacity to receive. I still struggle sometimes with the “unconditional” part of it. But once you experience it, you never want to go back.
It is controversial to talk about love, as being a gay in Asian families. People might argue that then this love from family is not unconditional. However, I can say my family still shares unconditional love.
While I was in Taiwan, I was afraid to tell my parents about anything I did outside of my family. Being struggling with dealing with my mom’s unacceptance on anything I did, I chose to leave my country to work and we had always talked little about me. However, things started changing after they listened a song, Unlimited Love, that I wrote for a queer TV series. Through the song, they start being empathy with my identity, my struggles and me never giving up love. They started calling me more often and expressing their care to me.
Even though there is never a moment that we talked through my choices or my identity, I know that they love me unconditionally. After I came to the Netherlands, my mom made me a necklace written as “Ik sta aan je kant” (I am on your side). Even though she doesn’t speak any Dutch, she tried to be more connected with me. I felt her love in my heart. Now I always wear the necklace when I attend queer events. It gives me courage and confidence.
Although every love probably knows limits in being enough to overcome certain challenges I believe love in its essence is unconditional. Respect might change and even lead to disliking the object of your affection but I don’t think that changes the love.
Maybe look more at the perception of the loved one being a mirror of your own judgement and the disappointment in yourself which shatters that.