Sayoni sat down for a chat with Olivia and Irene Chiong last year. The Chiongs have been receiving some attention in recent years, with Olivia’s blog gaining traction online and their same-sex parenting group (Rainbow Parents) advocating for equality for LGBT parents and children. But over the course of the interview, it became clear that Irene and Olivia do not want to be solely defined by their same-sex parenting activism. Other topics that came up in the course of the chat included media representation, children's rights, and queer politics. Olivia has released her first book, The Unbusy Entrepreneur and is taking preorders for her second book, titled Baby Zoey: Our Search for Life and Family.
Note: The views represented here are those of the individuals and may not represent Sayoni's stand.
Irene (left) and Olivia. Photo courtesy of the Chiongs
How would you describe yourself?
Irene: I've done quite a bit of queer activism and language activism, working on issues that affect me personally. I would like to work on issues that don't affect me personally, like racism or transgender issues. I'm a queer parent. I'm also interested in the intersections between feminism and the tech space; other related issues are sex work, queer rights and transgender rights. I don't want to use the umbrella term "queer rights" to cover transgender rights, because there are unique challenges.
Olivia: I'm an accidental activist. Still accidental after all these years. I like to think that I put my family first at this point in my life. I'm enjoying my work and hoping to build an empire helping small business owners. My politics are different from Irene's, in that I'm passionate about things that touch me personally. For example, encountering someone who is transgender helped me to understand and want to contribute to that.
What's the image you're trying to present?
Irene: I'm not trying to present an image, but I don't want to buy into the thinking that queer rights is based on being safe, monogamous and having children. It should not be the case. So part of me is thinks that we shouldn't be so visible, not because I am closeted, but because queer rights is about everybody.
You mean it should be about the whole spectrum of queer people and not just a certain group.
Irene: Yeah, not only monogamous, married queer couples are entitled to certain rights. I'm quite uncomfortable with using couples or families as the face for queer rights.