Category Archives: Society

No Strikethrough

Last week I sat in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and came across an article about the controversial practice of re-evaluation counseling. The article talked about how this unlicensed form of counseling harmed public school students, many of whom felt coerced to attend sessions against their will. As I sat with my laptop out waiting to board my flight back home, this article reminded me of a crush I had a couple of years ago who told me that he went to re-evaluation counseling. Thinking about this guy’s issues, I wondered if he would have treated me better if he had instead seen a licensed therapist before talking with me. He had issues related to his immigrant parents, coming out at a later age than me, and placing his self-worth in external accomplishments. I felt curious about what factors precluded him from seeking therapy: financial barriers? Adherence to toxic masculinity? A lack of desire to grow and change?

This thought process reminded me of the many emotionally compromised queer men I have come into contact with through my dating life. Continue reading

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Growth

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this super hot queer Asian American politician and felt a rush of longing heat up my chest. Through investigating his social media platforms, I saw how this guy advocated for legislation to hold corporations accountable, prioritized housing for the disenfranchised, and attended healing spaces for Asian American folks in the wake of anti-Asian violence. I literally can’t remember the names of any of the men I’ve ever felt desire for before, I thought to myself as I read this man’s Wikipedia bio and almost shivered in delight.

Pre-2020 Thomas would have idealized this guy. Continue reading

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More Love Left

I turn 26 in a little over a month and am unsure about whether I want to raise any kids in the future. While I feel okay about not knowing, at this point I lean toward not having kids so that I can maintain my independence, a core value of mine. What frustrates me more than not knowing whether I want kids: the stigma against those who do not have kids, as well as the glorification of those who do have them.

Flash backward to a conversation I had with one of my ex-friends about two and a half years ago. Continue reading

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Men are Irrelevant

To take a break from engaging with the anti-Asian hate going on in the United States, I wanted to write a blog post about my gender identity and men’s irrelevance. Over the past several months, I have started to go by any and all pronouns. This change does not feel major to me because while I have always felt comfortable in my male body, I have also always had a femme side which I cherish a lot. However, I have caught myself thinking at times: will men feel less attracted to me if I go by any/all pronouns instead of only he/him pronouns?

Whenever I notice this thought, I remind myself: I literally do not care what any man thinks of me and never will. Continue reading

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Simple Pleasures

Within the past week I set a date for my dissertation defense, finished writing the first draft of a grant to investigate queer men of color’s health outcomes, and analyzed data for various research projects for about four hours with my students. While I work a lot, I also set aside time to nurture my relationship with myself and with close and casual friends. In my 25 years of life, I have met so many people who achieve a lot in their professional lives yet do not take time to work through their internal traumas and conflicts or to practice self-compassion generally, which often shows up in how they treat others. Thus, amidst the business of my life I wanted to write this informal post to celebrate some simple pleasures I have encountered as of late. Continue reading

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In the System

As I have gotten more leftist over the years, I sometimes feel increased guilt about my work within the system. I have room to grow, and I acknowledge my strengths: my therapy supervisors always affirm my clinical skills, I publish a decent amount of research, and my students tend to report positive things about me. At the same time, I often wonder if therapy should even exist. I wonder if academia should even exist. Or should we work toward building a society where we can take care of one another as a collective and prevent the traumas that call for therapy? Should we create a society where we can all contribute to the development of knowledge instead of a select privileged few?

When I question whether therapy should exist, I reflect on my own therapy experiences and the trauma I experienced at the hands of my mother. Continue reading

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One Year

A couple weeks ago I felt sadness at the thought of winter approaching. I struggled to figure out what brought on this sadness. At first, I wondered if the emotion stemmed from the impending coldness and darkness cutting off my ability to go on walks and jogs outdoors, my break from the boringness of staying indoors. Several nights ago, though, I had a dream that helped me realize the true root of my sadness: that this winter marks one year since I broke up with one of my former closest friends.

The end of that friendship felt painful. Continue reading

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My Friends Make Me Laugh

Several hours ago, I went on a date with this guy who works in geographic information science. What we talked about felt fine – him considering getting a PhD and my feelings about almost having one, him resisting stereotypical images of Black men growing up and me loving myself as a gay Asian man in my mid-twenties, him wanting a spontaneous romantic partner and me wanting a social justice-oriented one. Toward the end of the date though, I recognized that I felt bored. This guy came across as kind, self-aware, and communicative, yet I noticed I had not laughed once. So, on my way back home I texted him and said that I would enjoy a casual friendship or friends with benefits situation, given that I did not feel any romantic chemistry.

I love how this played out because I felt no sense of defeat. Continue reading

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Queer Asian Confidence

Sometimes I struggle to honor my strengths. I have pretty high self-compassion and self-esteem, I just don’t like acknowledging what I’m good at. For example, I’m starting my fourth year of training as a psychologist. In my most recent therapy evaluation, my supervisor commended my “ability to connect with clients and make them feel safe with [me].” She also wrote that I have “an intuitive approach that is bolstered by [a] strong theoretical orientation… influenced by a multicultural lens, feminist therapy, ACT and CBT, and interpersonal process,” as well as an openness and genuineness that helps clients feel connected to me. Though I recognize my clients’ growth, I still think: am I actually good at this?

Even though I can grow in honoring my strengths, I like my modesty a lot. I think it stems from Asian values of humility, as well as not wanting to be like other men who have an inflated sense of their abilities. Instead of searching for the spotlight, I can spend more time honing my empathy, social justice advocacy, and mentoring. Still, internalizing modesty to an extreme may have its downsides. My supervisor also wrote in her evaluation, “I think Thomas is always a bit surprised at the progress of his clients, as he sometimes doubts that he is a good, actually excellent, therapist. I encourage his humility, but also think he would benefit from receiving the fact that he is very skilled and capable.”

Upon reflecting about my supervisor’s comments for the past several weeks, I feel like a lot of my hesitancy to own my strengths stems from my queer Asian male identity. Continue reading

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Athletic, Kinda

“It sounds like you may be into athletic guys, too,” my therapist said a few weeks ago, as we talked about my attraction to men.

Over Therapy Portal, I gave her my signature skeptical look:

“Okay, let me explain,” she said. “You’re very athletic. You jog, you play tennis, so I wonder if you’d be looking for the same in someone else.”

After my therapist asked me this, I spent the next few weeks reflecting on my relationship with athleticism. Continue reading

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