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Mengwen Cao

Here We Are

Here We Are

My parents thought I had never been in love. We didn't talk about relationships because I had a secret: I like girls.

I created a video letter coming out to them and shared it with them as we talked on Facetime.

Only around 5 percent of LGBTQ people in China are completely open about their identity due to huge family and societal pressure.

This project aims to share raw and intimate moments and adding to nuanced stories about Chinese queer community.

Here we are in spite of everything.

Artist Biography

Mengwen Cao is a photographer, multimedia artist, and cultural organizer. Born and raised in China, they are based in New York. As a queer immigrant, they use care and tenderness to explore spaces between race, gender, and cultural identity. As a board member of Authority Collective and a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, they are championing diverse narratives and perspectives in the media industry.

Their projects have been featured in publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, Sina, Tencent. They have participated in international exhibitions like Photoville, Jimei Arles, Lianzhou Foto Festival.



My name is Meng.

I'm a 25-year-old Chinese girl.

My parents think I have never fallen in love.

We don't talk about relationships, because I have a secret:

I like girls.

As much as I want my family to know me better,

the fear stops me from revealing the truth.

I wrote a letter to my parents.


Less than 5.5 percent of LGBTQ individuals in China choose to be fully open regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jude would have to marry a man if she went back to Beijing, her hometown not sweet for her love choice...yet. She shares the story of her coming out to her best friend.

Growing up as a first generation American in a traditional Asian household, Dilys struggles to find balance between her two conflicting cultural identities.

Born and raised in China, Lanny moved to the US three years ago for graduate school. Through self exploration in the queer community in New York City, she has gradually come to terms with her own sexuality.

I CAN’T LIE ANYMORE April 11, 2016

Four months after I wrote my coming out letter and made that video,

I decided to show it to my parents via Facetime.

My parents asked me this:

  • Are you just curious?

  • Are you REALLY REALLY sure?

  • Do you think you are just influenced by Western culture?

  • Have you ever liked a boy?

  • Do you have anyone you like now?

  • Do you think it’s because you in the art circle?

  • Are you the man or the woman in a relationship?

  • What’s your plan if you come back to China?

  • Who will take care of you when you are older?

  • What about kids?


To see more of Mengwen's work, visit their website or social media.


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