Hit with the tragedy of his mother’s death at age 12 and a father in denial about his son’s sexuality for more than a decade, Jason Om writes his first memoir, All Mixed Up. The novel shines a light into the darkness of his past and tackles love, acceptance and finding healing in grief. 

A daytime reporter for 7:30, Jason Om is used to writing short and punchy sentences for TV, so tackling a memoir of 328 pages was completely new territory for him. In 2017, an article written for the ABC on the 16-year journey it took for his father to accept his homosexuality, gained traction and touched viewers. Om has since written a memoir titled, All Mixed Up, a book that unfolds a storied past and the experience of growing up in a multi-racial household. 

Coming out to a friend at the age of 18, and to his father at 20, Om describes his experience of accepting his sexuality as long. It involved “copping a lot of racism and homophobia” at the all-boys Catholic school that he attended during his secondary education. 

He adds that racism affected him more because it was something that was visibly reflected back in the mirror. At the same time, he had to overcome the denial of being gay from his own internal struggle and fearing his father’s reaction if he found out. In retrospect, the journey between his father and himself has gone from “16-years of deep denial to complaining that he can’t see enough of me marching in the Mardi Gras parade on TV.” It is a welcome change. 

All Mixed Up is a story that pulses around trauma, love and acceptance. Om speaks of growing up biracial, which gave him leeway when it came to following Cambodian customs; he didn’t attend Cambodian language school, and (surprisingly) his family never took off their shoes at home. 

When asked whether queerness has shaped his life or his writing, Om states that though he occasionally feels pressure to fall into the stereotypical flamboyant gay character, sexuality comes in all shapes and forms and “I just have to be myself and live by my own standards. Queerness is a state of mind.” 

A story six years in the making, All Mixed Up begins with the loss of his mother to a heart attack at the tender age of 12. Choosing to write a memoir engages with the personal and 2013 brought on an emotional rollercoaster, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of his mother’s death and the death of his grandmother. The feelings suppressed finally came “crashing through the emotional barricade” and gave him the resolve to “bust open” family secrets. 

Om hopes that his memoir will give people the courage to confront their fears and talk about the unspoken truths in their lives. 

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