About a week ago, I thought about how I would feel about my life if I never left my apartment again. I am so privileged to get to work from home while Rona rears its ugly global pandemic head. Yet, how would I feel if my life somehow came to a screeching Coronavirus-induced halt, forever, right now? For the most part I have accomplished all I ever wanted, like escaping my abusive childhood, providing direct mental health services, and listening to the most iconic pop music. Yet, I realized one thing I may want yet have never experienced: I have never been kissed by a guy I care about.
The moment I realized this unfulfilled desire, I judged myself hardcore. Like, I’m freaking Thomas from the quiet voice, the gay red-haired icon who could not care less what any man thinks of me. I’m Thomas, the Viet guy who’s succeeded in dismantling internalized patriarchy and heteronormativity to the point where I care more about the well-being of the bunny-shaped, citrus-flavored fruit snacks I eat most mornings than if I will ever have a long-term relationship with a man or get married. I would rather be forced to jump rope over hot coals while reading the phone book backwards for the rest of eternity than settle for a mediocre, or even decent man.
I still feel a slight yearning to be kissed by a guy I care about, though. This yearning reminded me of times when I sat in my first long-term therapist’s office in undergrad. In those sessions with my therapist L, I talked on and on about how men are emotionally immature, how I get all my needs for emotional intimacy met by my close friends anyway, how it’s a shame that Ariana Grande’s music videos didn’t turn me straight or bisexual so I could be attracted to women instead, and so forth. He always offered a bemused smile in response. He praised my independence. He said something at one point that still resonates with me, though, in the middle of one of my rants about monogamy and its heteronormative messiness.
“I hear you about monogamy,” he said. “But I do think there’s something different about having a relationship with someone who you’re both physically and emotionally connected to.”
At the time, I acknowledged his statement and moved past it without much thought. But what he said came back to me the other day when I Skyped with one of my best friends Natasha. Natasha, similar to my other best friend, has pretty much everything I would want in a guy: she’s caring and loyal, she’s into social justice, she’s an excellent communicator, and on top of all of that, she’s creative, super smart, witty as heck, and also gorgeous. Our conversation the other day felt so emotionally intimate and supportive, thoughtful, and filled with laughter. I thought to myself at one point, what would it feel like to have this with a man who I also want to make out with?
Now, I have learned to sit with and accept this desire without fighting it. I often worry that this desire for a romantic connection with a man will derail my life, that I will end up like a lot of the people I know who really do rely on their male romantic partners for their happiness and would not know what to do without them. Then I remind myself that I have lived for almost 25 years loving myself and those I am close to, providing compassionate care to others, and growing as a person and as an advocate without any man by my side. I’m confident that because I’ve made it this far, no man could derail the life I want for myself.
To be clear, I have kissed a ton of guys. Yet, I’ve never kissed, or even really met a man who would meet my standards, someone who both impresses me and has the emotional maturity to sustain a meaningful connection. This lack of a man does not bother me much though, because I already create everything I could want from a man through other facets of my life: emotional intimacy with close friends, intellectual rigor from research, compassion for others through therapy and teaching, physical pleasure from myself, and bursts of unbridled energy from pop music. I wouldn’t trade any of it, neither for a man nor his lips.
I intended to wait until next week to publish this post but on this blog I make the rules, hehe. What are your reactions to this post? How do you feel reflecting on the trajectory of your life, especially with Rona around? Any goals you still want to accomplish, or nah? This week is my first week back to my full schedule of teaching, research, and therapy so posts may come a little less consistently from this point forward – we’ll see. Sending everyone warmth and strength during this trying time!