Category Archives: Society

Moving on from AWLOB

A few weeks ago, I sat in my therapist’s office, talking about my most recent crush.

“It’s probably because I’m economically advantaged,” I said. “He was a labor organizer, so he’s probably not interested in me because I can’t relate to the class struggle.”

“It makes sense that you’re searching for a reason,” my therapist said. Over the past few months, she has listened to me talk on and on about what happened with this guy – who in this post I will refer to as AWLOB (Attractive Writer Labor Organizer Boy) – why he broke up with his boyfriend, said he felt into me, then said he did not feel ready to talk to me without an explanation.

Though I do not care at all about men finding me attractive or what men think of me in general, for some reason I kept searching for reasons as to why AWLOB wanted space from me. Continue reading

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On Nurturance

As a child, I thought a lot about the meaning of my life. I thought a lot about the meaning of my life especially after my mother would yell at me for hours on end – why would anyone put me on this earth so this woman could scream at me and make me want to kill myself? I remember typing on my laptop at some point, during sixth grade or earlier, with tears running down my face: I was put on this earth to make a difference, to stop people like her from hurting others. While other kids thought about prom and popularity and potential first romances, I felt dedicated to escaping my home and then devoting my life to helping others help themselves.

Except escaping my home marked just the start of my healing. Continue reading

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People can Value Social Justice and Still Lack Emotional Intelligence

Sometimes I conflate passion for social justice and actual emotional intelligence. Take for example, a crush I had about three years ago on this attractive Asian man who went to an Ivy League school. He worked or volunteered supporting survivors of interpersonal violence, he could articulate the costs of racism and colonialism on people of color, and he said he valued empathy and compassion on his LinkedIn profile, which I may have read a dozen times. “Oh, my goodness,” I thought to myself while listening to Ariana Grande’s “Into You” in 2016, “this guy is like, the one. This is a hyperbolic re-rendering of my thought process at the time for dramatic effect but like, we’re totally going to date, get married, have two kids, and conform to heteronormativity in at least one other way, like buying a house with a white picket fence.”

But it turned out that this guy had not come out to his conservative Asian family yet, which bled into his inability to form a connection with me. Continue reading

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In a World with Couples Therapy, where is Friendship Therapy?

I have always loved my friends with my whole heart, even more than I love Jeni’s ice cream. My friends and I in elementary school traded stories about our abusive parents. We Facebook messaged each other after our parents yelled at us or hit us and took comfort in our shared pain and support. I first came out as bisexual, and then as gay, to my high school friends, who loved me all the same. We talked about boys who never stood a chance with us anyway. Today, my friends and I still talk about our shared trauma, we rant about the racism we encounter at work, and we roast the men who have wronged us with the most eloquent rage.

But like every relationship, sometimes friendships suck, too. Continue reading

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Honoring My Red Hair, Doing Science While Valuing Compassion, and Other Bloggy Updates

This blog turns nine years old in December, wow! Who knew I would transform from a weird, dark-haired, not-yet-aware-of-his-gayness high school student into a weird, red-haired, very queer and femme grad school student? Time sure flies when you spend hours processing and healing from your trauma, breaking the hearts of thirsty men, and over-disclosing about your life on the internet have fun! I will now share some blog and life updates because I love the readers of this blog, all 2.5 of you, and I want to keep you in the loop.

First, I updated my “About Me” page to include a photo of me with my red hair! Continue reading

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I Love Myself, I Love My Friends, I Love My Life Without Romance: Thank You to “Against the Couple Form”

Last weekend, I sat in the Chicago O’Hare airport sipping a Caribbean Passion smoothie from Jamba Juice when a friend sent me the essay “Against the Couple Form.” I opened it, expecting an okay analysis of living life without a romantic partner, but instead, I found one of the most radical, validating pieces of writing in my entire life.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I care a lot about finding, cultivating, and maintaining love and connection outside of romance, in particular outside of romantic relationships with men. But fighting the patriarchal, heteronormative narrative that I need a man to complete me – the story sold to us by Disney movies, dating apps, and the wedding industrial complex – can feel lonely. It feels lonely when the majority of students in my graduate program and one of my feminist book clubs heavily prioritize romance and/or their romantic partners. It feels lonely when people post about their weddings and engagements and no one comments or adds a disclaimer about the problematic origins and implications of marriage. It feels lonely when people view my anger about the over prioritization of romance as a symptom of some unresolved internal pathology, as opposed to a justified emotion that acts as a reaction against the oppression of femmes, women, and all those who want to thrive outside of an antiquated social more.

But when my friend sent me the essay “Against the Couple Form,” I felt so validated and happy. Continue reading

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Thomas Practices Self-Care in the Face of Anorexic Thoughts and Watches a Glorious Movie, Girlhood

Sometimes I act a little dramatic. Earlier this week, after an eyeroll-worthy email exchange, I stopped harboring feelings for the crush I held onto for the past eight months. Afterward, I thought well, if this seemingly beautiful well-read social justice-oriented hunk of a man turned out to be awful and an emotionally stunted communicator, I will literally never ever trust or date a man on this planet. On top of that update, one of my good friends, who I still care about and respect, has started prioritizing her boyfriend in her life, and I thought well, if this is happening to a person who identifies as a feminist and used to rant with me about people who over-prioritize their boyfriends, I might as well never make new friends because they’ll all eventually prioritize their boyfriends. For a day or two I felt the urge to stop eating. I thought to myself, hm, if I cannot control the quality of men that exist in a patriarchal society and I cannot control the prioritization of men and romance in a patriarchal society, then I might as well control the prominence of my ribcage. I literally felt my heart freeze up, like someone sprayed an icy mist into my chest and made my insides all cold and untrusting.

But after feeling my feelings while playing tennis at 7:30 this morning and then waiting for my tuberculosis screening in a nearby CVS, I thought to myself, wait a f-ing second, this is not who I am, I am not a fundamentally cold and untrusting person. As I guzzled a Blue Machine Naked Juice while in line at the CVS and then an Orange Fanta in my apartment, I thought I’m Thomas, who values warmth, vulnerability, and over-disclosing about my personal life on the internet, I’m not going to let some random man on the internet and the patriarchy turn me into someone I’m not. Continue reading

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