I was invited to attend the 2nd Asia Pacific Rainbow Family Forum in Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China, 11th – 13th May 2018, which coincided with the International Family Equality Day (IFED) and International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) and it was certainly a refreshing new experience.
Let’s face it, most of us who are activists or advocates, are oriented to action, with the usual focus is on “what’s out there”, and we usually put aside our own personal challenges thinking that the ‘cause’ is bigger than ‘me’, thus sacrificing the need for happiness and accepting burnout and anger as part of lived reality of an activist / advocate.
Coming from Malaysia, a South East Asian country where emotions are not usually uttered in ways that would be beneficial or emotionally supportive for an individual, to be included in forums and conversations that incorporated the most pertinent situation in an individual’s lives into the ‘cause’ that one is advocating for, can be confusing and welcoming at the same time.
Mitch and fellow participants speaking on a panel.
Confusing because there’s so much of emotion being shared freely among participants and welcoming because it’s warm and uplifting. The most apt description that I can think of is similar to the warm embrace of a mother.
When I was offered to write a few words, I was torn between writing a report that’s filled with text or a personal feedback of my experience throughout the forum and I decided that I may not be able to do the APRFF 2018 justice in any form but by being honest in my feedback.
As in any forum, workshops and events, there will be speakers and topics that have been set that’s according to the theme but what makes APRFF different is that, the forum is not just talk…its about living the experiences. The close relationship and how hospitable they are that you immediately feel a sense of belonging.
The full rainbow of LGBTIQ families at the event.
One of the most emotional and meaningful session for me was during the breakout of Global Interfaith Discussion where we were encouraged to continue our sharing and conversations with any of the faith leaders / speakers. We spoke about our deeply personal issues and for me, to be able to share my concern on being a transgender parent, having a child who is ‘ADHD’ and dyslexic, knowing that I can share my deepest fear, with people who understand and are in the same boat…..it was freedom.
Asia Pacific Rainbow Family Forum creates a platform like no other, especially for LGBTIQ parents, a platform that’s solid and supportive, in creating a better and brighter future fill with love and hope for our children.
Mitch with his two children.