Reflecting on "stuckness," family expectations, and love

May 17, 2022

May is Asian Heritage Month, an opportunity for people of Asian origin and descent and others to reflect on the histories of discrimination, struggle, belonging, and solidarity that divide and connect us. To celebrate, the GSWS Student Blog will feature student creative work throughout May. 

In Dr. Nadine Attewell’s GSWS course “Queer Relations” (GSWS 321), students explore how intimacy, kinship, and community look and feel like for Asian Canadians and Americans today, drawing inspiration from films, graphic novels, memoirs, and other creative texts by queer and feminist Asian diasporic thinkers like Andrew Ahn, Joella Cabalu, Richard Fung, Hiromi Goto, and Kama La Mackerel. For their final projects, many take the option of producing creative works of their own, which you can explore here, as we share a new post each week in May.

Dr. Attewell will be offering GSWS 321 again in the 2022 fall semester; the course can also be taken for Global Asia credit.

GSWS 321 Student Spotlight Posts:

GSWS 321 Student Spotlight: Catelyn Sue

For my GSWS 321 final project, I assembled a multi-page zine consisting of hand drawn illustrations and personal photographs. Drawing inspiration from Andrew Ahn’s 2016 film Spa Night, I reflect on the sense of stagnation – stuckness – I feel thanks to my lack of experience in both giving and receiving love, as well as the gap between my family’s expectations of me – that I go into a STEM field like medicine, engineering, or computer science; that I conform to heterosexual norms – and my own desires – to go to art school – and curiosity about myself.

In these images, I evoke my sense of alienation from commonplace stories about family life and growing up. Although I’ve experienced funny moments and happy times as well as familial loss and collective mourning, it still feels like I haven’t grown and have just stayed inside my box. While everyone else moves forward, I am stuck at a standstill with my goals for my future, my relationships, my understanding of my own values, my sexuality.


Artwork by Catelyn Sue
Artwork by Catelyn Sue
Artwork by Catelyn Sue
Artwork by Catelyn Sue

Student Biography

Catelyn (she/they) is a fourth-year interactive arts and technology (IAT) student who specializes in visual design and branding. Outside of academics, she loves engaging in fandom spaces and is heavily involved with zines, either as a participant or organizer. She is currently curating an original content food-centric digital zine by Asians, for Asians, about how they connect to & celebrate cultural heritage through ethnic cuisine. It’s about the many ways food is tied to traditions, customs, and generational values by gathering with family, cooking, eating, etc. You can keep up with @AsianFoodsZine on Instagram and Twitter!