Mengwen Cao, a Chinese photographer, videographer, and multimedia producer, was born in Hangzhou, China. She emigrated to the United States in 2012.
At age 25, her parents thought she hadn’t fallen in love yet. Little did they know she had a secret.
She started to come out to her parents via a letter, and that ended up turning into the following video, which became part of a larger project called Here We Are that documents the experiences of other Asian and Asian-American LGBTI people struggling with their identities.
A few months after writing the letter and creating the video, Mengwen decided to FaceTime her parents and show them her creation.
‘I definitely feel closer with my parents now. I think they do, too. They kept saying that they are really glad that I told them, even during the early stages, when they were still trying to fully understand,’ Mengwen tells BUST Magazine about her parents’ reaction.
‘I would talk about my relationship and introduce my queer friends to them. Last year when they visited New York, they stayed with me in a six-people queer co-op. They made friends with all my roommates, who are all queer or trans.’
‘I feel that it is impossible to see ourselves without first learning how to see other people. What I mean by that is that our lives don’t pack any significance until we see it already reflected back,’ Mengwen says of her Here We Are project.
‘I also did not want to show a singular narrative because singular narratives flatten. It is impossible for me to share my personal narrative as a queer and Asian person and have it be read as strictly personal, the way someone white and hetero’s (or even white and queer) personal narrative would be read as. Therefore, I have to show that there is complexity to the labeling that this narrative as descriptor.’
‘It is a group effort. The sense of community can impact person choices. I want to show various perspectives from people with different backgrounds. I also want to include parents into the conversation. Ideally, “Here We Are” would be an ongoing project.’
Learn more about the Here We Are project on Megwen’s website.