Growing up Chinese-Australian in north Queensland, William Yang felt pressure as a child to ignore his Chinese heritage and be a dinky-di Aussie.
“We were the only Chinese family in our small country town and were among an Anglo society, so although there was some acknowledgement of difference … it was expected that people assimilate into
the Australian way of life, which we did,” he said.
“My mother was very keen for us to be more Australian than the Australians, and so in that way my ethnicity was suppressed. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I claimed my Chinese heritage.”
To add to the pressure, Mr Yang was also hiding his sexuality as a gay man before coming out in the ’70s.
The themes of suppression, difference and diversity have been over-arching themes throughout his 30-year career as a photographer and performer and heavily influence his upcoming show, The Story Only I Can Tell, which will feature at the Wyndham Cultural Centre on February 17.
In it, the Sydney-based artist will share his life story and will encourage a small group of participants to do the same.
“It’s a bit of a lottery. We’ve got five applicants, or five storytellers, but I’ve never met them and it’s always a mixed bag,” he said.
“I work under the assumption that everybody’s got a story. Some are better than others and some can tell it better than others, but everybody’s got a story and I’ll try to help them tell it.”
Tickets are $30-$20. For more information or to book click here