Mel&Con / South Korea
“Con and I met in South Korea and fell in love. We decided to live together in seoul to be near her family (she’s half Korean) and take advantage of the culture and more accepting nature of the big city. We were both working as English teachers, and though homosexuality isn’t illegal in Korea, it is frowned upon. Our jobs would definitely have been in jeopardy if we were ever discovered. we defined our relationship to colleagues as best friends, even though we had lived together as a couple for years.
To complicate things, Con’s androgynous appearance and darker skin tone drew negative attention that made her feel uncomfortable to enter public restrooms. on more than one occasion, women would question her gender out loud. She was also shooed out many times. But the worst instance of discrimination happened when she was by herself in Hongdae, an area well known for queer culture. Walking down the shopping street, a group of young adults followed her, taunting and laughing, questioning if she were a man or a women. To escape the terrifying experience she had to duck into an alley way to lose the crowd.
I felt so much anger and helplessness. I couldn’t protect her or even make her feel comfortable in a country that is represented in half her blood. Not being able to express our love outwardly, and facing those hardships daily, prompted us to move back to the United States. I can only imagine what native Korean queer people must go through everyday in silence.”
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