Thu, Mar 28, 2019 - Page 13 News List

The family at the end of the rainbow

Jovi Wu and Mindy Chiu are a same-sex couple bringing up their daughter with love, courage and empathy

By Davina Tham  /  Staff reporter

Jovi Wu, right, and Mindy Chiu are parents to six-year-old Miao, who was conceived through in vitro fertilization.

Photo courtesy of Jovi Wu

Jovi Wu (吳少喬), 38, and her daughter Miao (苗), 6, have been fixtures at demonstrations for LGBT rights, but once, they found themselves face-to-face with a protester from the anti-LGBT Family Guardian Coalition (護家盟). Like Wu, the protester was a mother who had brought her child along, a boy just a year older than Miao.

The woman took one look at them and pulled her son away, shrieking, “Don’t look at dirty things!”

Never one to take an insult lying down, Wu hurled back, “And if your own child turns out to be gay, what are you going to do?”

“I’ll give him poison everyday until he dies,” the woman said.

Homophobic platitudes abound at anti-LGBT demonstrations. But the ease with which the woman had talked about taking her child’s life profoundly appalled and angered Wu. At best, she had traded him in for a cheap rhetorical flourish. At worst, she was being serious.

For Wu, those words were all the more jarring given her own arduous journey to become a mother.

PROTECT THE FAMILY

Wu is in a committed relationship with a woman and refers to her partner, Mindy Chiu (邱明玓), 36, as her wife. They raise Miao as a family of three in Taoyuan.

Last Saturday, the organizers of Miaoli’s first LGBT pride parade, which takes place on May 11, invited Wu and Chiu, both Miaoli natives, back to their hometown to share their experiences of raising a same-sex family.

In the cozy interior of an independent bookstore, Wu speaks candidly about her life. The intimate surroundings and friendly audience are a long way from the violence and loneliness of her childhood.

Wu was brought up in a household terrorized by an alcoholic and abusive father. She describes how he used to barge in when she was in the shower and beat her until she lost consciousness, only awakening from the chill on her skin, covered not in bathwater, but blood. The trauma is so visceral that she still shakes uncontrollably whenever she has to drive past the road signs leading to her old family home.

Wu’s mother had her at the age of 17. When Wu was a toddler, with two younger brothers, her mother left the children behind to escape her husband’s abuse. For the longest time, Wu used to resent her mother for the choices she had made — for having children with a violent man, for not protecting them from his beatings and finally for abandoning them.

Wu’s first inkling that she might be attracted to women came when she was 10 or 11, when she glimpsed a female classmate walking by and almost hallucinated rainbow-colored bubbles around the girl.

“I thought to myself, am I having a stroke?” Wu quips.

When Wu was planning to marry her first wife, she extended an invitation to her estranged mother.

“I didn’t actually expect her to come. But my mother’s boyfriend told her: if you aren’t there, then you will lose your daughter for good,” Wu recalls.

That was the start of a reconciliation, which deepened when Wu herself had a child and began to understand how overwhelming it must have been for her young mother, then barely an adult herself, to singlehandedly be responsible for three young children and an abusive husband. Wu now maintains a relationship with her mother, who is a doting grandmother to Miao.

When Wu and her ex-wife decided to have a child, they went to Thailand for in vitro fertilization. For the pregnancy cocktail, they used Wu’s ex-wife’s egg — to avoid a gene for a hereditary spinal disease that Wu carries — and donor sperm from a Caucasian donor — given the extremely limited supply of Asian donor sperm and physical traits, such as height, that they wanted her to have.

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