Category Archives: Society

30 Dollars

A few weeks ago, a cousin I have not spoken to for about a decade invited me to his wedding in Hawaii. I knew almost right away that I would decline the invitation. Yet, I felt guilty about saying no. I talked with one of my best friends about it a few hours after receiving the invitation which helped me feel better, and I decided to donate $30 to my cousin’s honeymoon fund instead. Still, his ask and my reaction to it lingered with me.

I felt a small drop of guilt for a few hours after I made up my mind to say no even though I had several strong reasons not to attend. Continue reading

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Weak

The article about Mindy Kaling’s obsession with white men triggered my depressive feelings. Not at first – the day before I read it, thought to myself, yeah, great points, and retweeted it and went about my night. The next day, though, I noticed more emotions of dread and frustration creeping up. Against my will I started thinking about messages I’ve received about my desirability as an Asian American nonbinary/male-adjacent person and other experiences of racism in my life.

It’s easy for me to acknowledge the anti-Asian racism I’ve faced in my life. Continue reading

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Home Ownership??

Earlier this year I started thinking about home ownership. The timing made sense – as the majority of my friends enter their late 20s, they raise the topic more so I start thinking about it too. I myself may enter a new state of permanence where homeownership makes more sense. Next May/June I graduate with my PhD, and if I land a tenure-track job, I could end up staying wherever I go for the long-term.

Holy sh*t, I thought to myself when I looked up one-bedroom homes right outside the city I live in now. Continue reading

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Life Partners

Several years ago, I met a woman in college who I will call P. P told me about how her boyfriend, K, once scheduled a virtual call to catch up with one of his best friends. His best friend did not show up to the call and did not let K know in advance. When I asked P if K intended to let his best friend know how this failure to attend the call affected K’s feelings, P shrugged and said that K did not have that type of relationship with this best friend. When P told me this, I thought to myself, no wonder K relies so much on P for his emotional support, if he does not even bring up with his best friends when they hurt his feelings.

This behavior reminds me of people who devalue friendship and prioritize their romantic partners. Earlier in my 20’s I would get more upset about this, and though I still do detest amatonormativity I think my feelings have softened. I suspect this softening has occurred because of how close I feel with my two best friends, both of whom I have had stable deep bonds with for several years now. Continue reading

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Back to Black

I decided to color my hair red during my first year of graduate school in 2017. I had attended a conference about Asian American psychology that October. Some graduate students and I had been standing in line for a dinner banquet, taking turns introducing ourselves by sharing our names and home institutions. When I shared mine, a fellow gaysian grad student looked at me and said “oh, you’re a *insert name of program stated in an elevated and slightly incredulous voice* student,” eyebrows raised.

I imagine that gaysian said that to me because my grad program has a bit of a prestigious (code for: elitist) reputation in my field. Continue reading

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Did You Know?

Did you know that your parents are people? Me neither (I’m joking, kind of) until I read Jhumpa Lahiri’s masterpiece of a novel The Lowland a week and a half ago. In addition to her stunning prose, I love how Lahiri captures the choices, traumas, and resiliencies that comprise first generation Indian immigrants to the United States. After reading her book I reflected in a more three-dimensional way about my parents and what they gave me.

Even though I write a fair amount about my dad’s absence, he also provided me with a lot. Continue reading

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You and Your Pale East Asian Ex-Boyfriends

The femmephobic guy I mentioned in my most recent post also told me that he found me unattractive because of internalized colorism. “all my past relationships were with pale skinned east Asian guys rip” he texted me. He shared that he did not have a specific plan to work through his internalized colorist sexual preferences.

I first felt a surge of anger. Continue reading

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Peeta and Katniss

The other day I spoke with an older Gaysian guy I respect. He first gave me some advice about my Psychology residency application process, and our conversation later turned to topics such as the political roots of queer Asian men’s romantic desires. He expressed some ideas about white supremacy and transracial adoption I hadn’t yet put into words, which I appreciated.

At one point, though, as we talked about how internalized racism may motivate fellow Gaysian men to date white men, he said something along the lines of: “well, if gay Asian men don’t have any other options around them, is it their fault to be with a white man even if he’s basic or a fetishizer? It’s like Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games, it’s not like they had a choice to kill other people. I’m not saying it’s the ideal scenario, but if gay Asian men don’t have other options, I’m not sure I blame them.”

I want to make it clear that I do not think this older Gaysian himself endorsed the idea of Gaysian men settling for white men (just in case this Gaysian somehow happens to stumble upon this blog post, I think you’re rad and cool and otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to you!) However, I felt struck by the logic underlying this analogy, that not having any romantic prospects removes you of your agency to the same extent as being forced to kill other people against your will by a totalitarian police state. And yet, I have heard the same sentiment uttered by a less rad older queer Asian man who is now engaged to a white man who couldn’t hold a conversation on his own when I met him, uh yikes, that it’s not about if you’ll settle, it’s about who you’ll eventually settle for.

What strikes me as most bizarre about this idea that you have to settle for the romantic prospects in your geographic area, is the implicit notion that you have to settle for a romantic prospect at all. Continue reading

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I Thought You Would Care

A few weeks ago I started messaging this cute Filipino guy on a d*ting a**. He told me that he grew up in “the boonies of California” and I liked him because of his sense of humor, his weirdness, and our perceived sexual compatibility. At one point in our text conversation he said “I’m 5’8”, kinda average, what about you?” I told him my height, 5’6”, and I asked him if he cares about guys’ heights.

“No I don’t,” he texted back, “I thought you would care.”

“I feel like height is pretty superficial tbh,” I wrote. “Like I’ve met a bunch of guys who are tall and also lack emotional availability and/or basic active listening skills.”

“If you have a face to [REDACTED],” I added, “you have a face to [REDACTED].”

“:) Where have you been all my life,” he sent.

Damn, I thought to myself. The bar is truly below the ground and on its way to the earth’s molten core.

This exchange triggered some feelings of sadness and anger within me because I have come across so many men who do care about the height of their potential sexual and romantic partners. Continue reading

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Die Alive

“It’s hard to imagine you sleeping,” a casual friend of mine said to me over dinner a few months ago. She stated this in the context of how I like to move, how I like to get things done. Indeed, as a fifth year PhD student, I have published a little over a dozen peer-reviewed publications, I have read and reviewed about 80 to 90 books a year for the past decade, and most importantly I try to engage in consistent self-reflection and self-compassion to improve as a friend and a person. When anyone mentions my “accomplishments” accomplishments in quotes because I’m literally just a Gaysian nerd who wants to sit on my couch and read novels all day lol and also “accomplishments” don’t determine people’s worth I feel a desire to crawl into a pink-colored cave and never come out, which my therapist calls “modesty.” People often ask me though: how do you do so much?

On one hand, I have a lot of privilege. I present as male, and I grew up in one of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States. Without a doubt these factors influence my achievements. I want to own their influence and take action to deconstruct the systems that create these forms of privilege in the first place.

At the same time, I do my best to minimize distractions. Continue reading

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