Barbara Streisand's son, Jason Gould, is gay.
Streisand has become a kind of role model parent who stands up for the dignity
and rights of gay sons and daughters. Here are two quotes from the Advocate
magazine, August 17, 1999:
would never wish for my son to be anything but what he is. He is bright,
kind, sensitive, caring, and a very conscientious and good person. He is
a very gifted actor and filmmaker. What more could a parent ask for in
their child? I have been truly blessed. Most parents feel that their
child is particularly special, and I am no different. I have a wonderful
son. My only wish for my son, Jason, is that he continues to experience
a rich life of love, happiness, joy, and fulfillment, both creatively
Streisand to the Advocate, Aug 17.
on this earth has the right to tell anyone that their love for another
human being is morally wrong. I will never forget how it made me shudder
to hear Pat Buchanan say that he stood 'with George Bush against the
immoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing
in law as married men and women.' Who is Pat Buchanan to pronounce
anyone's love invalid? How can he deny the profound love felt by one
human being for another? ... Unfortunately, however, as long as people
like Newt Gingrich and Pat Buchanan continue in public life, the fight
to codify gay marriages will be a tough battle to win."
Barbara Streisand to the Advocate, Aug 17.
Here is the son's view:
parents are very supportive of me. God, I generally don't like to go
into personal issues, I'm pretty private. I was never in the closet,
anyway, but I think that, within a family that's heterosexual, you're
always going to be an outsider if you're gay. I don't think it's easy to
grow up gay anywhere, especially with the amount of fear and
uncomfortableness that surrounds sexuality, let alone homosexuality.
It's painful. But I think we've made some big strides now, we don't have
to apologize for being gay. I believe we were created this way by
Gould, to London's Gay Times, July 1997.
Cher's daughter, Chastity Bono, is gay. And there are
more, but it is not the purpose of this article to enumerate examples.
One of the unfortunate effects of heavy Western
representation in the media is that it is the Western voices we hear. Not only
do some people think, as a result, that gayness is a Western phenomenon, but
many gay Asians think that parental acceptance is also a Western phenomenon. Gay
Asians read Western gay magazines, such as Out and the Advocate, and in their
pages, they see interviews with famous personalities such as Barbara Streisand.
There are hardly any gay Asian magazines that rise to the same level of
journalism, carrying interviews with Asian parents. From this absence of voice,
comes the belief that Asian families will never be able to accept homosexual
sons and daughters to the same degree. Tolerate maybe, but stand up for them?
Chinese parents and siblings
But now, there is a groundbreaking book. It's a slim one,
but wedges that drive cracks apart are slim.
In 1993, a group called MAPLBN (Mandarin Asian Pacific
Lesbian/Bisexual Network) was formed in San Francisco. It brought together women
who were immigrants or children of immigrants from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and
South East Asia. As an outcome of their discussions, they conceived of
publishing a book, comprising letters written by their parents and siblings. The
book Beloved Daughter (ai nu in Chinese) is the fruit of this
The book is bilingual, English and Chinese, and contains 4
letters from mothers, 7 from fathers and 3 from siblings.
Some of the parents spoke about how they first suspected
their daughters were gay:
at my daughter's graduation in the summer of 1985, I noticed changes in
her and her close relationship with her housemate. I think deep in my
heart I knew then, but I just let it ride, as she didn't say anything.
And in part of my mind, I hoped that it was only a passing phase that
many young people go through as he or she grows up."
mother from Sarawak, Malaysia
And how it hit them when they first knew:
remember vividly when our daughter came out to us as a lesbian during
her freshman year in college. We were very shocked and terrified as if
the sky was going to fall. We thought she was "influenced" by
the school environment and we didn't know what to do. We thought about
sending her back to Taiwan.
"She told us about
her personal struggle and that she had sought help in school. My wife
and I wept countless tears as did our daughter and suffered nightmares
during this phase. We worried about the hard life our daughter would
experience as a lesbian in this society and feared she would be
"We tried in many
ways to change her, and persuade her; we even urged her to see a
psychologist. She stood firm on her sexual identity despite our efforts
to change her. On the contrary, she tried to persuade us to acknowledge
and understand her. This period of adjustment was indescribably painful
for all of us!"
Cheun Chen, a father.
her admission, I felt shocked and temporarily at a loss. I hurriedly
stated that her happiness was more important. I told her I did not mind
whether her choice would be a man or a woman. At the time, I was
actually quite confused. I was pleased she wanted to share her feelings
with me. But I also never imagined my guess would be correct. I also
felt sad that she had been carrying her secret along for so many years
without her family's support. I can only imagine the pressure and
isolation she must feel as a lesbian living in a heterosexual society. I
worried about the difficulties she will face and our parents' reaction
when they find out.
"Finally I could no
longer hold back the tears and I began crying with my sister over the
"I felt a sudden
desire to join forces with her in her struggle. I know for this society
to accept and respect homosexuality, a lengthy struggle will be
necessary. Regardless whether she is straight or lesbian, at the very
least she is still the oldest sister who has the respect of her younger
Juliet, a sister
parent of a lesbian or gay child will experience their own 'coming out'
process. My own emotional struggles, however, were not very turbulent.
This probably is because, by nature, I am an easy-going, non-traditional
person. Once my mind is calm, I can resolve most problems. I think when
many parents discover their daughter's lesbianism, they not only need to
deal with their own feelings of shock and ambivalence, but they also
have to deal with concerns of 'face'. They may feel too ashamed to face
their friends, neighbors and relatives, as if the world has come to an
lesbianism is not an intentional act of rebellion. As a parent, as long
as I know I have done the best job I could, other people and their
opinions cannot affect me. Therefore, is it more important that my
daughter lives with a clear conscience or worry about other people's
gossip? Do I want my daughter to feel proud of herself, or do I want her
to hide behind a mask? To support her or to put pressure on her? If we
make life difficult for her, then we all lose out. My daughter is still
my daughter. How is it possible then, that between knowing and not
knowing, our world might be turned upside down?"
sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual is just a natural
fact. It is therefore unnecessary to put more significance on one or the
"In regards to my
views on homosexuality, I have given it a lot of thought and am still
processing it. I do not agree with the traditional view of
discrimination against gays and lesbians. I believe that homosexuals
have long existed throughout history. It is because of these tradition
[sic] views that gays and lesbians are afraid to come out. With current
advances in science, we have gained more understanding of living things.
Additionally, we have changed our views on sexuality."
as I learned more about the Chinese history leading to the Chinese
revolution in 1949 and also changes in Chinese society since 1949, I
came to reject the Confucius philosophy in the Chinese culture. The
Confucius philosophy is deeply rooted in the Chinese feudal society,
which is based on patriarchy. This philosophy propagates the idea that
intellectuals are superior people and they should rule, and those who do
physical labor are inferior and they should be ruled. It believes women
are less than wholly human and they lack moral character. I was so
excited to see women and men in China rose up [sic] and challenge these
old and outdated ideas from below ….
"The reason I said
so much about my own transformation is that if I had not changed my
values, I would have had a difficult time accepting Dao-liang's sexual
"… as I learned
more about homosexuality, my level of understanding and consciousness
have been raised. More importantly, I no longer look at issues
concerning gay and lesbian as an onlooker, they became close and
personal. I feel the pain when someone is treated unfairly because of
his/her sexual orientation."
Pao-yu, a mother.
For every gay person in this world, there are four, six or
even eight family members, whose lives can be traumatised by prevailing
attitudes against homosexuality. Fathers and mothers especially, have to go
through a similar process of self-acceptance and coming out, otherwise they live
with guilt, shame, and truncated emotions. If you add up the numbers,
discrimination against sexual minorities is a
widespread problem -- one of the most pervasive forms of discrimination today.
Yet in Singapore and most Asian countries, there are no
helplines, no support groups, virtually no information resources (particularly
in local languages), for family members. No air to breathe in societies that
prefer to suffocate all mention of homosexuality. Societies that would rather
denial and hate than honesty and fairness.
Here are a few lines by a sibling. From the language, I
reckon it's a brother:
guilt, hate and anger --
each one is a waste of emotion
sister, daughter, friend, lover, boss, not just a dyke --
her roles are many
by the dozen you may go fly
if, my sister, as a person, you deny"