Straight Through the Labyrinth chronicles the true story of a gay Jewish scholar of China caught in the crosshairs of the very history he has studied. Suddenly ensnared in Hong Kong's handover back to China in 1997, Peter Lighte, intent on adopting a Chinese baby, navigates his way through daunting bureaucracy and unforeseen drama---and prevails, likely becoming Hong Kong's first adoptive gay father. A second daughter soon follows, a story no less fraught, convincing him that purposeful synchronicity can thrash anything in the way of love.
Over his lifetime, Peter Rupert Lighte immersed himself in matters Chinese, all the while longing to become a father. After obtaining a PhD from Princeton in East Asian Studies, he haphazardly accepted a position at a bank that sought to mold him into a “renaissance banker.” In 1982, he was dispatched to Beijing, which was then gradually emerging from the Cultural Revolution, to become a pioneering circuit rider traveling around a country he had come to know through Confucius and Ming gazetteers. Before long, he was briefing the US Secretary of the Treasury for a speech at the Great Hall of the People, explaining the significance of turkey to Premier Zhao Ziyang at President Reagan’s Thanksgiving banquet, and having a bouquet of flowers brusquely snatched from his arms by the Australian prime minister to present to a Chinese dignitary.
After three years in Beijing, Lighte was posted to London, where he met his life partner, Julian Grant, a composer. Though resolved to become a father, he was at first thwarted by his sexuality and local authorities turning a deaf ear, obliging him to put his parental agenda on hold until the couple relocated to Hong Kong on the cusp of the colony’s return to China in 1997.
Subsequently, the couple adopted two daughters from China, after which their family went on to Tokyo, London, and Beijing, where Lighte became the founding chairman of J. P. Morgan Chase Bank China. He now lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his husband, Julian, and Fuqi, a mutt from Beijing. Their daughters, both Barnard women, are well out in the world. He is also the author of Pieces of China and Host of Memories: Tales of Inevitable