Category Archives: Society

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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If I Could Choose

Oftentimes I despise feeling attracted to men. I love my gayness, it just sucks to be into men because we’re socialized to be uncommunicative, uncaring, and overall unsatisfying. Most days I wish I could choose not to be attracted to men, because then I wouldn’t risk abandoning my values or settling for someone mediocre.

About a week ago I felt super angsty reflecting on how I have no choice being attracted to men. Continue reading

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Are White Men More Confident and Dateable than Asian Men? AKA, I Hate White Supremacy

A few months ago, I talked with one of my good friends L about a disturbing phenomenon we observe in the Asian American community: Asian Americans who prefer to date white people. While texting her about this issue, I encountered this video about Asian American women who talk about their preference for dating white men. I felt so disturbed watching this video because it reminded me of queer Asian men I know who prefer dating white guys over Black, Indigenous, and other men of color (BIMOC). While this whole video reeked of internalized racism and anti-Black racism, one comment that annoyed me in particular: the notion that white men are “more confident” than Asian men.

I despise the notion of white men being “more confident” than Asian men because that idea so often fails to take into account the effects of white privilege and racism. Continue reading

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