So I didn’t have a chance yesterday to make a post about this exhibition in the World Cultural Museum that I went to, in Gothenburg. All of my writing ability were used and dried up for thesis, not that I had to write anything specific yesterday,except for transcribing the interview. But I want to share with you all a bit about what amazing stories I have read.
They were different stories, in different shapes, of different brave individual who decided to share a piece of their life to the world; so that some others who might have similar situations, would have the strength. They are not only the stories about being gay or lesbian or transgender. They are also about their beliefs in polygamy, as long as the story shows a side of different from the common world, not normal, but the common world. I did not even think about it that way before; despite the fact that I always support the difference within life. But I like whoever quoted this from Dorothy Parker: “Heterosexuality is not normal. It’s just common”. And I like the words used.
The exhibition was small, not as big as I thought. I held in my hand the stack of papers conveying all those stories. I read some, then I walked a bit more to see around. There were pictures of different couples in Vietnam, from my own country and culture. I recalled seeing them before in Prague, from Maika Elan.
The Pink Choice is a series of photos about the love of homosexual couples which focus on living spaces, the affectionate touches, and more importantly, the synchronized rhythm of lovers sharing life together. Viewers may not feel the personalities of the subjects in the photos, but hopefully they can feel the warmth of their love and caring. In way, I wanted to show what I see of homosexual people and not how they see themselves.
Photographer: Maika Elan
She wanted to show a different approach to Vietnamese society, through “personal stories using direct language: documentary photography to capture real moments and real people”. And I think she did a wonderful job. Not that she needed one more person to tell her so. I, myself, have never even looked at my own culture from such angle. I am a voluntary person who wishes to go abroad and explore and sometimes find myself being strongly disagree with many things relating to Vietnam. Something about the life when I was there, quite turned me off now and then. However so, the pictures “nostalgized” me in a way, reminding me of my own rootedness. It is a warmth you might find, living abroad for some time and subconsciously, you start to forget or let go some of aspects of your old life.
There was a whole corner only showing aspects about my culture. They were mostly in Swedish; hence, I did not take many pictures, except for these.
The left one, you can easily see what is about; and the second one emphasised women’s power and role in our society. Even though women are still considered to be in weaker position, to be taken care of and protected by men; Vietnamese women have a unique difference from other Asian cultures – we fought in the war, literally, and we fought against enemies when the men were not available. I liked it a lot. I liked hearing those stories, and seeing some of Western people know about this aspect of Vietnamese women. Because I was raised so. In some of the post in Tumblr, I had shared a bit about my parents. My mom is a tough woman, and not in the strict way or so. She likes to have fun, jokes around and not like I am always tip-toeing around her. But she is strong and tough. She has been through a lot, that I know; but she does not lose her spirit. She might lose her temper quite often though. She does not show emotions out a lot; and clearly, she does not always need my father to have a life. She can always be on her own. She is fine being on her own, most of the time. She keeps whispering to me, since I was a kid, that I needed a career first before getting married. Nowadays, she mentioned more about me having a boyfriend and not delaying those things too late, I don’t know why, I am still “freshly” young. But that was how she used to teach me. From whatever vibe she has wrapped me up, I grew up as an independent girl, so far, both fearful but also fearless. Pretty sure the fearless is from her.
The left picture though, was true in a sad way. And I don’t think it only applies to LGBT community; even though the situations might be the most unfortunate. It is said; owing to the fact that society there has too many standards for people to follow. It reached a point that we rarely questioned why, especially the old generation. A lot of young people, with different new modern mindset, have to be put in situations, in which they are against their family. I ensure you, it can be one of the worst feeling, to know that even your family is not supporting or believing in you. Or at least, from where I was raised, it is one of the worst feeling. Family should be the stop one returns or crawls to, knowing that stop would always be there no matter what harsh life has put you through.
There was a black board with a chalk; and I picked it up just to write: “Thank you for doing this exhibition. From a Vietnamese person.”
I walked further to see them presenting about our musical instruments, different types, and our traditional outfit – Ao Dai. The right part of the exhibit room, there was a screen playing about natural phase of a girl having armpits; in order to declare a refuse to believe in the norm, that all the girls are supposed to shave all the armpits. Then, there was a board with many faces, from many background, having a diverse skin colour. That is what a diversity exists within our community. I already wrote a note to myself, reminding me of how much this exhibition has given me. But I would also share here again, its impact.
I like to study about culture. Because I believe in differences. This is not to say I embrace it so well; but I believe in it, and try to study more about it, so I could embrace it better in the future and help others to see it too. Having people doing a totally different things or being different from the common knowledge one is taught about, makes one start to wonder about his/ her identity. I suppose it is a hard thing to accept; because most of us start to react in a negative way. We refuse to believe. We tend to hold onto to the common norms; because that is the way it should be. But I realised, through my limited living experiences, that we are all different. We are different from each other from the core, but that makes us all the same. Looking from far away, we are all same human, with body, legs, hands, arms, brain and all. Then getting closer, we reflect different pictures. I even realised, sometimes, in spite of how different the road you might take from the other, the two people might end up to be exact the same point. Between difference and likeliness exists such a thin life, would you agree?