Lunar New Year Diary

I absolutely love celebrating Lunar New Year with my boyfriend. Ok, I’m about to be super honest. Yes, even more than usual. I grew up totally sheltered. I went to an all-girls high school. At the time, my parents were super overprotective, and super traditional Italian (after they split, they were no longer those things). I didn’t really know a lot of guys growing up. And, when I did start to hang out with guys, they were predominantly from the Italo-Canadian community.

In University, I was part of an Italian Club and all my friends were Italo-Canadian. But, I started to also meet all kinds of new and interesting people on campus. I had a cool group of Iranian guy friends who I still bump into to this day at restaurants, coffee shops and even just walking down the street. They always treated me like an equal and with respect. In fact, the majority of my Italo-Canadian guy friends were, when I look back now, alarmingly chauvinistic.

It was in fact, other guys of other races, places, mindsets, that showed me I had value as a woman. I’ve always had a open mind when it comes to the world and people, and once I started to see how much I got along with guys of other races, places, and mindsets, I really understood what I was looking for in a partner.

Well, that was the long route to how I ended up dating a Chinese-Canadian guy. I mean, it doesn’t even matter. Maybe I’m just meeting more progressive-thinking people in general because that’s how I am. It is more likely that every culture and subculture has both progressive thinking members, as well as those who are more narrow-minded. I unfortunately, grew up with lots of Italian guys on the latter end of the spectrum.

But that’s the trouble with our world right now – we judge people of other religions, races and places, based on nothing more than fear of difference. Well, oftentimes you will have less in common with those who are “just like you” than those who have a different skin colour or different upbringing. Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this other than to say that I love my partner, and I love celebrating his culture.

I mean, I’m even learning how to speak Cantonese… slowly.

In this day and age, embracing someone else’s culture is something worth fighting for. I feel like I can speak to Italo-Canadian values because I was brought up in that world, although I far from identify with the majority of its tenets. And as much as I myself feel that culture should be something we participate in, protect and celebrate, we are all human beings above everything else.

Love is colour blind. Love has no gender. Love has no god. Love is the answer. Honour killings, homophobia, racism, prejudice, sexism – those all have roots in hate.

We should be able to join hands regardless of the colour of our skin, our gender or genderless, our sexual orientation, our gods… And it was meeting people outside of my own cultural identification that taught me to look beyond those things.

To those “Italians” who still look at me strange when I show up with a guy who isn’t “Italian,” shame on you. We celebrate Lunar New Year, now. BYEEEE.

xoxo

jetset justine signature

We need to talk…

The topic of relationships that challenge the status quo, and the topic of embracing people of other cultures should really be on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days. I feel like under the guise of “homeland security” and terrorism, we are allowing the people in power to redefine human rights. The world is a complicated web of a multitude of dynamics at play. There are all kinds of thoughts circulating out there. It is in no way black or white, and I hardly think online is a safe place to discuss any of this. But I’ve tried to carve out this blog as a place where we can say what we feel or think, without being judged. I hope you can all respect that and hope you feel the same way about leaving a comment below. If you do, please do. Let’s chat!

Lunar New Year Photo Diary

lunar new year lunar new year

12 Comments

  1. January 31, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    Loved this post! I can totally relate – I’m Chinese Canadian as well and my boyfriend is completely Italian and we live in Italy.
    Unfortunately, it’s true that too many people still judge everything based on appearances (race) and it just doesn’t feel like we are moving forward; but still, we are, and the increase in interracial couples (especially in Italy in the past few years) can prove that!
    I also love how you’re trying to learn Cantonese because my boyfriend is as well and kudos to the both of you because it definitely isn’t easy!

    • Justine Iaboni
      January 31, 2017 / 5:50 pm

      Omgosh! No way! Thanks so much for leaving this comment. Yeah, I bet living in Italy as an interracial couple is even harder than here in Toronto. How did you two meet?

      Ah, yes. The Cantonese is hard. My boyfriend doesn’t speak it, so I’m learning from his grandmother and one of our best friends. lol I need to get Rosetta Stone. So, do you speak Italian?

      xoxo J

      • February 1, 2017 / 4:37 pm

        It definitely is much harder being an interracial couple in Italy. Thank goodness we live in a bigger city so its ok for the most part, but he’s from a smaller city in the south of Italy and it’s a lot weirder being there (people stare, a lot).

        I was actually studying here so we met in Italy! I’ve picked up the language now because it’s been a few years already and I wouldn’t be able to communicate with his fam and friends if I didn’t learn it! I think he got the short end of the stick though because Cantonese is much harder! Haha!

        • Justine Iaboni
          February 3, 2017 / 12:29 pm

          Cantonese is so hard!!!!!!!! Omg Southern Italian cities… when I told my family in Italy my boyfriend is Chinese they were like omg you poor thing, you’ll never be able to eat pasta again, you probably have to cook all Chinese food for him. Like, my bf’s mom actually shared with me the best spaghetti aglio e olio recipe I’ve ever tried. I felt so sorry for them bc they can’t help their ignorance. But it’s like hello, we live in 2017! Get with the program.

  2. February 1, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Hi Justin, thank you for this lovely post! You are a beautiful and very intelligent person, the world needs more people like you. A big hug to you and your boyfriend. 💋❤️

    • Justine Iaboni
      February 3, 2017 / 12:24 pm

      Thank you so much Janet! xoxo J

  3. Siffat Haider
    February 1, 2017 / 1:35 pm

    Justine, I absolutely love this post. I feel like the political climate is starting to feel a lot like the 1930s, which is scary to say the least. I’m so glad you wrote about your own experience in an interracial relationship, as it’s how things should be! Love isn’t about race or religion.
    PS- as a brown girl, I can relate to people looking at you strange when you show up with a guy from a different cultural background, but people need to move the fuck on.
    Hope you and Alex enjoyed Lunar New Year!
    xo
    Siffat
    http://icingandglitter.com

    • Justine Iaboni
      February 3, 2017 / 12:27 pm

      Totally agree with you, Siff! This world is a super scary place these days. I was just syaing to Alex how crazy it is that all these problems are stemming from just human beings walking around, living and breathing. There are literally no external forces. We could have world peace so easily, because it is just up to the volition of one species. Something we can literally change. Something we literally have power to do. We can’t stop natural disasters or diseases, but we CAN stop being so incredibly mean to one another.

  4. Aram
    February 2, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    Being Gay and brought up also in a sheltered Armenian-Canadian home made me relate SO MUCH to this article. Not to mention I’m in a relationship with a Scotish/Italian man which makes this even more relatable. Thank you Justine for sharing this, you said it for the magority ! Love is love baby ! Also we all know mixed babies are the cutest 😉

    • Justine Iaboni
      February 3, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      Hi Aram! Thanks so much for your comment – it means so much to me to see other people being able to relate to my words. That must’ve been so hard for you! When I was writing this, I wanted to end with “…for those italians who look at me weird when I show up with a guy who isn’t Italian, imagine what they would think if I showed up with another woman!” I’m still under the bracket of heteronormative – adding the additional layer of a same-sex interracial relationship, that must be even more challenging to gain acceptance from certain communities. I commend you for sticking up for your love! Love IS Love! xo J

  5. Jocellyn
    February 4, 2017 / 9:32 am

    Yay for interracial relationships. All the guys I’ve dated have been white (yay for living in North New England) and there was 1 Thai guy who actually looked A LOT like Alex, so interesting to learn he’s Chinese.

    In the States you definitely get some looks or, depending on the town, outright harassment. But love is love! That’s why I adore going up to Montreal. I’ve never dated anyone up there per say**, but I love walking around and seeing all the interracial couples and feeling at home. So because I base all of Canada on Montreal, I figured everyone was down with the date whoever you want vibes. Sorry for the things you’ve gone through, but you are a tough one!
    – Jocellyn

    **okay, I went on a few misguided dates with a wealthy Canadian dude 18 years my senior. You know the term sugar daddy? Well, since he was from MTL I called him my “poutine papa” haha. Things obviously didn’t workout, but with this political climate I wish I would have, you know, tried a little harder ;) kidding…kinda.

    • Justine Iaboni
      February 9, 2017 / 3:00 pm

      omg we are literally crying over your comment RN. DYING!!!!! Poutine papa!!!! DYING. I need a t-shirt that says this. ahhhh, it’s good to laugh.

      Ya, I feel so lucky to be in Canada because people are definitely way more open minded. I feel for you, man, in the US must be a totally different story.

      xo J

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