Five minutes with Kerry Chin, Sydney WorldPride Rainbow Champion

Published 24 February 2023

Sydney WorldPride is celebrating 45 influential figures from across Australia’s diverse LGBTQIA+ extended family, chosen for their contributions to Australian LGBTQIA+ community and culture. 

The 45 Rainbow Champions represent the 45 years since the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978.

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One of the Rainbow Champions is Kerry Chin – an aromantic, asexual, autistic and transgender community leader whose work with Australian Asexuals has helped spread awareness of human rights issues that affect asexual people.

We spoke with Kerry to learn more about Sydney WorldPride and his role as a Rainbow Champion.

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

Hello, my name is Kerry Chin. If you’re reading this, you might recognise me from the ADNSW video: Workplace adjustments for people with invisible disabilities

I was born in Hong Kong and lived there until I was 15. Moving to Sydney was one of the best things to happen to me. 

I'm lucky to have known about being asexual from a relatively young age. I’ve known about the concept since I was 14 and started claiming the identity for myself at 16. Asexuality is a sexual orientation that's defined by the lack of sexual attraction. It’s not a choice and it’s not a description of behaviour. 

I used to be a very shy person up until my university years. At university I started riding a bike out of necessity and I’m so glad I’ve continued riding throughout my life. My current bike is black with rainbow wheels; I cast colourful light wherever I go!

Outside of my day job as an electrical engineer, I spend a lot of time doing community organising, which is how I came to be a Rainbow Champion. I work with Australian Asexuals and also run a meetup group for autistic adults.

I am quite a passive person by nature, but the trajectory of my life has been that to find community, I need to help create that community – and so here I am, one of the most well-known asexual people in Sydney.

What does your role as Rainbow Champion involve?

My role as Rainbow Champion is to be an ambassador for Sydney WorldPride. 

I attend lots of events and do many interviews and photo opportunities. I wear my Rainbow Champion medal and talk about the festival – the medal attracts a lot of attention!

Being a Rainbow Champion is a wonderful opportunity to promote the community work that I do and raise awareness about asexuality – one of the less-known parts of the rainbow community.

Sydney WorldPride is a Mega Mardi Gras. Can you tell us about the festival and some of the events you are attending?

I’ll be attending the main events such as the Mardi Gras Parade, the Pride March across the Harbour Bridge, the opening and closing concerts, and the Human Rights Conference. 

I was at Fair Day last weekend, working on the Australian Asexuals stall and I will also be marching with them in the parade. 

I’m not into nightclubs or loud parties, but I have filled my calendar with Pride Amplified events.

I’m featured in two exhibitions: Cloak: Queer Science, Fashion & Photography (a free exhibition at UTS) and Fleur de Villes: Pride (a floral mannequin exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens). I’ll be speaking at An Evening With 500 Queer Scientists and Coming Out, Coming Home. I’m also helping to organise the International Asexuality Conference 2023 with a new community group, Ace & Aro Collective AU. 

It is a tradition within the international asexual community that during each WorldPride, the local asexual group in the host city runs a conference where we talk about topics related to asexuality. Here in Sydney, part of the conference will be an in-person event and other sessions will be online.

Sydney WorldPride will host the largest LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Conference ever to be held in the southern hemisphere. Who are you looking forward to seeing present and why?

I’m looking forward to seeing asexual activists Dipa Mahbuba Yasmin and Kate Wood present at the conference. 

Dipa has worked with marginalised communities in Bangladesh for more than 10 years and is currently a queer filmmaker and curator focused on South Asia. Kate’s research work focuses on discrimination, violence and hate crime against asexual (and aromantic) people – and she herself is a survivor. It is so important that we get a platform to talk about serious issues affecting our community, such as hate crime and medical discrimination. 

The conference features a wide variety of speakers covering a wide range of issues, so I’m also looking forward to learning more about topics I’m not personally familiar with.

Have you experienced discrimination as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community? 

The answer in short is yes – for all aspects of my identity.

For being aromantic or asexual, most of the negative reactions come from a place of ignorance rather than malice, but I’ve met people who were committed to not understanding the concept because it doesn’t suit them. I’ve also had people tell me they can ‘change my mind’ about being asexual. 

I'm transgender and was assigned female at birth. When I first started taking testosterone, there was a stage when I looked quite androgynous, and I had strangers make inappropriate comments. I am fortunate that none of it escalated into physical violence. 

I was once called Kathoey (a Thai transfeminine identity) in the street – which is silly because I’m not Thai nor trans feminine, but this is typical because heckling often doesn’t make sense. Luckily, I had my bicycle so could get away quickly.

Having been through medical affirmation, people usually assume my gender correctly now. 

But I did experience issues when seeking medical gender affirmation. Some medical professionals didn’t understand asexuality or were overly focused on my autism over my gender affirmation needs.

Asexual people often face discrimination in healthcare. NSW Health has published their LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy 2022-2027. I’m hopeful that the next iteration will include the voices of asexual people and be an LGBTQIA+ health strategy.

Can you tell us about your work with Australian Asexuals? 

Australian Asexuals is a community organisation focused on raising awareness about asexuality. The main activities of the group include having a stall at Fair Day, a float in the Parade, and running social events throughout the year for asexual people to meet each other. I’ve volunteered on the Fair Day stall every year and participated in float working bees even in the years when I’ve opted to march with a different group. 

As an organisation, we also get media requests, and we share the media opportunities amongst our members. I was on ABC’s You Can’t Ask That as part of a panel of eight adult virgins answering anonymous viewer questions. I’ve also represented the asexual community on Triple J Hack, Abbie Chats, and in various interviews in both English and Chinese.

We also celebrate International Asexuality Day on 6 April and Ace Week (formerly Asexual Awareness Week) in late October.

Do you have any words of advice for LGBTQIA+ young people? 

That’s a tricky one, as there is no one-size-fits-all advice for everyone. But I do recommend finding your community so that you and your peers can support each other and learn from each other. 

Remember, your identity is yours alone, and no one can tell you otherwise. But don’t get too hung up on terminology; not everything can be easily explained in a few words, and it’s also OK to be unsure. 

Things can be hard when you are young, but they often get easier the older you get. Stay safe and don’t let the haters get to you. And be sure to reach out for mental health support if you need it. 

 

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Last updated:

24 Feb 2023

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