My First Kiss by Lian Low
In My First Kiss by Lian Low we have the theme of curiosity, sexuality, connection, freedom, vulnerability, discovery and acceptance. Narrated in the first person by Low herself the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Low may be exploring the theme of curiosity. Low spent her first fourteen years of her life in Malaysia where it was illegal to be homosexual. Public displays of affection were widely disapproved of. Regardless of an individual’s sexual preference. Rather than feeling suppressed or ashamed of her sexuality, Low remains curious. In reality she longs for a connection with another woman. Something that only happens when Low arrives in Australia where she is free to do as she wishes.
Low also finds it difficult to adapt to her new school in Australia and is resentful that she is being put in an ESL class. She also doesn’t like her accent as she feels it gives her personality away. What is interesting about the story is the fact that Low isolates herself from others. This could suggest she does not wish to be taunted by the other kills in school over her skin-colour or how she peaks. Though it is noticeable that when in the final year of high school she allows for herself to be vulnerable. The school play being an example of this. Low’s parents are supportive of her. Something which is of huge relief to Low.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Low likes to stay in her bedroom for two reasons. The first is to hide from a world that she thinks is cruel. Secondly she can escape and be who she wants to be in her bedroom. The clash in culture that Low feels lends the reader believe that Low has more on her plate than most people. She is after all trying find her identity. She knows she is an outsider because of her skin-colour. This along with accepting her sexuality leads to confusion for Lian. The kiss with the girl serves to breakdown any wall that might have been taboo.
The end of the story is interesting as Lian, after kissing the girl, feels elated. In reality she liked the kiss. Which is a major step when it comes to Low accepting who she is. One major difference (for Low) is how open or westernized Australia is. Public displays of affection are not forbidden and there are no negative consequences for showing affection in public. It is while growing up in Australia Low embraces Australian culture and if anything she feels like a liberated woman. No one is looking at her or making cruel remarks about how she looks. For once in the story Low is comfortable in her own skin.