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Everything Everywhere All at Once: Queer Identity Representation Through An Immigrant Lens

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Everything Everywhere All at Once,” a 2022 film directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert featuring a predominantly Asian cast, follows the story of Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American immigrant who must undergo connections with herself from parallel universes to stop a powerful being from destroying the multiverse. The film covers topics ranging from being an immigrant to understanding and rebuilding relationships, queerness, and acceptance. Including recently winning best picture at the Academy Awards, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” capped off a groundbreaking awards season and became the most-awarded best picture winner since 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire.” Following the Oscars, the film has taken seven Academy Awards home for multiple different categories including best picture, lead actress, and supporting actress. 

SPOILER: The film openly discusses queer identities, and includes queer characters. Joy, the daughter of Wang, is openly gay and wants to introduce her girlfriend Becky to her grandpa, which Wang hides from her father, saying Becky is a “good friend.” The aftermath of the interaction leaves Joy storming out in tears. The plotline itself has much depth and can hit close to home for any queer child who has immigrant parents. The theme and symbolism of the movie focuses on recognizing the simple moments in life as the best ones and finding love and connection with those you love, which includes Joy and her mother. The movie furthers the plot of mother and child through Evelyn attempting to protect the multiverse from a being named Jobu, who resides in her daughter. The journey both characters take in order to bond and heal from the pessimism and pain of the world is filled with science fiction adventures, battles, and a taste of reality. When the movie nears the end, Evelyn saves Jobu from eradicating herself from the multiverse and finally recognizes Joy’s queerness and her relationship with her daughter. 

USA Today discusses an interview with Daniel Kwan and his reasoning for the storyline.

“Each time, it’s almost brushed over or ignored, or the parents are waiting for the ‘phase’ to end,” Kwan recalls. “There’s no big screaming match. They just end up having to come out every couple of years, every time they introduce their partner. They have to basically fight for the chance to be seen – it’s like this slow-motion erasure of who they are.”

From a personal perspective, the storyline provides representation for queer individuals who are immigrants/children of immigrants. The discussion of feeling erased and not being seen is a large issue within more ethnic and POC communities, which leaves unique and singular experiences for individuals who have these shared identities. I applaud the movie for providing such a positive outlook in the end for the relationship between Joy and her mother, which might give other queer immigrants the same hopeful outlook that their parents will one day see their identities and accept them.

Julius Patto attends Michigan State University, double-majoring in Professional and Public Writing and User Experience (UX/UI) Architecture within MSU's College of Arts. He strives to showcase his creativity and inspire others in the world, while also working towards prioritizing mental health and representation for immigrants and marginalized communities. Outside of his studies, he enjoys writing poetry and fiction stories, reading, being adventurous, traveling, and skateboarding.