Picture This

This past Tuesday afternoon I talked with my therapist about my elongated struggle with men. I told her about how that morning, I spent around half an hour investigating when Caroline Knapp, one of my favorite writers, met the romantic partner she later married, Mark Morelli. I used my millennial/Gen Z cusp internet sleuthing skills and pulled up several articles about her, such as one about when she and Morelli went to couples therapy together and another that shared that she got sober at 36.

“I figured out that she met him in her early 30’s,” I said. “Which is kind of helpful but kind of not because if I do want to date a man, which is questionable, I want him now.”

“There’s a sense of urgency here,” my therapist said. We had stopped wearing masks at this point, both of us vaccinated and sitting at least six feet apart, so I could see her smile. “I wonder if you can think of this like growing a garden.”

Omg, she’s about to solve all of my mental health problems with florals, I thought to myself. Continue reading

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Reasons to Live

content warning: explicit writing about passive suicidal ideation

I thought about killing myself* for the first time in a while earlier this June. I did not have any active plan or means to do so. At the same time, I felt a lot of pain related to my attraction to men and wanted that pain to stop.

When I noticed these emotions, I googled a DBT worksheet about the pros and cons of engaging in self-destructive behavior and filled it out on a piece of paper I found lying around in my apartment. Continue reading

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Our Own World

On my 26th birthday a couple of weeks ago, I spent a few hours jogging around Green Lake Park in Seattle, a beautiful expanse of water and naturey space in the middle of a dense urban neighborhood. When I paused to cool down on one of the docks that jutted out into the water, I reflected on how complete and fulfilling my life felt with stellar friendships, a deep sense of purpose, and physical and psychological health. I still haven’t dated a man yet, though I thought to myself, and I felt a tinge of sadness. I let myself sit with that sadness for a few minutes. Then I reminded myself that any emotional intimacy a man could give me, I’ve already gotten – through my immersive, loving, and in the past, challenging relationships with my closest friends.

Here is a picture of the edge of one of the docks at Green Lake, featuring my feet adorned by one of my favorite pairs of shoes! Yay for dedicated space for self-reflection in a capitalist society that always encourages productivity and accomplishments. Also, yes, I took this picture during a non-jogging trip to Green Lake because I would have disintegrated if I tried to run six miles to Twice’s “Feel Special” in these sandals lol.

Ten years ago, as a junior in high school, I started watching Queer as Folk for the first time. Continue reading

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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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Research

Several months ago, I asked my best friend Bri if wanting to do research made me a bad person. Sometimes I minimize the trauma I have experienced in academia, and Bri reminded me of our conversation from several months ago as an example of how academia has affected me. The fact that I even asked that question aloud highlights the breadth of heinous events I have witnessed in my academic career so far.

To provide a non-exhaustive list of some of the shit I have been through in academia: Continue reading

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Thank Her

Growing up, I often told my grandmother that I wished she were my mom. She would laugh in her soft way and tell me that I was silly for saying that, though looking back I wonder if she had been pleased to hear that from me. My wish made sense to me as a child: my mother was emotionally abusive and yelled at me all the time, whereas my grandmother practiced nurturance and compassion in every moment, so of course I would want my grandmother to have more years to live and to raise me over my biological mother. I question now whether my younger self felt life’s unfairness while making that statement. Why did the universe give me such a horrible mother when it could have given me my grandmother as my mother instead?

I felt a somewhat similar sense of unfairness this past Mother’s Day weekend, about a week and a half ago. 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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No Going Back

In about a week and a half I will get some photos taken to commemorate my new blonde hair. When I think about how I will look in these photos, I sometimes start to feel icky about the weight I’ve gained during the pandemic and over the past few years in general. Some of the disordered eating thoughts from my early adolescence emerge all over again. How nice would it feel to have a completely flat stomach like before? Remember that time when your face looked so much thinner and more angular? If you start cutting back on some meals, you could have your super skinny body from 2009, it wasn’t even that long ago.

These thoughts and emotions feel odd to experience because on an intellectual level, I recognize that a desire for thinness is fatphobic bullshit. Continue reading

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A Non-Self-Loathing, Very Self-Loving Gaysian

I feel at peace with myself and enjoy my life a lot nowadays, which struck me as a bit odd the other day. Part of that odd feeling I think stems from themes I have noticed crop up consistently in fiction about gay men’s lives: persistent self-loathing and engaging in unhealthy relationships. Some popular titles that include these themes include Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman, Real Life by Brandon Taylor, and Memorial by Bryan Washington. The queer protagonists of these novels possess deep insecurities, date men who mistreat them, and lack self-awareness about their intrapersonal and interpersonal patterns.

I am not suggesting that these stories are unimportant or that artists should only portray happy, healthy queer men in their work. Gay men – especially gay men with additional marginalized identities related to race, fatness, femininity, and more – go through a lot of oppression and it’s important to capture that oppression and its effects. I acknowledge the power and compassion of honoring people’s pain without trying to force them into healing or more positive emotional states right away. Especially in light of the AIDS crisis in the United States and how the government’s mishandling of that situation killed many queer artists and queer people in general, I feel grateful for the presence of queer art and how that art exists in a heteronormative world.

At the same time, I feel annoyed when these stories about queer pain receive the most publicity or popularity compared to art that promotes queer joy and healing. 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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