A neighbor recently gave me a copy of Suki Kim’s novel “The Interpreter” and my curiosity bumped it to the head of my reading pile. It’s a poignant story of two sisters, daughters of Korean immigrants to the U.S. It is well worth picking up.
One of the themes that struck me was their desperate dream of being “American girls, full-fledged American darlings, more golden than the girl next door, even cheerier than the prom queen, definitely sweeter than all-American sweethearts. Far, far away from their parents’ Korea, which stuck to them like an ugly tattoo. How misguided such a dream….” The main character, Suzy, finds a high school newsletter entitled “Generation 1.5” which represents those who were born and lived in Korea in their early years, who, although fluent in English, will forever have a Korean accent, will forever be a “point five.”
This idea of being “in between” resonated with me as a Sexual Immigrant. I, too, had wanted to be a full-fledged American girl, far, far away from being the boy that clings to me like an ugly tattoo. I, too, realize how misguided a dream it was. I am part of neither the world of men nor the world of women. I am the “point five” that lives between the integers. While I’m thankful that our society is becoming aware of us “point fives” and taking amazingly fast steps to accept us as real people, we still live in a very uncomfortable border zone where even our need for a safe place to pee labels us as predators and perverts, outsiders.
I am delighted that young “point fives” are finding the support, direction, and encouragement they need and deserve, that they can be out and proud. My own journey required too many years of hiding, of guilt and doubt, of uncertainty. I cannot yet be proud of – whatever I am. I have a long way to go.