I grew up in a very conservative Vietnamese family. No sex, living together, holidays or sleepovers with partners before marriage. On the rare occasions when overnight stays were permitted, the boys slept on the couch. Growing up, my sisters and I expected that we’d live with our parents in Sydney’s sleepy northwest until we were married. There was a lot of sneaking around.
I unexpectedly moved cities at 23 for work. I had a long-term boyfriend, and when he came to visit every month or so, my mother asked if we slept in the same bed. In those early days, I could picture her wringing her hands as her voice gently shook. Sometimes she cried.
Eventually, she didn’t protest when we said we were going overseas together. She let me go to his family Christmas interstate – something I had been forbidden to do for the first three years of our relationship. Slowly, things were changing.