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.
Ten years ago, as a junior in high school, I started watching Queer as Folk for the first time. Continue reading →
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 →
Over the past week I have spent at least half of my waking hours listening to “Feel Special” by Twice, at this point my favorite Twice song by far. I love upbeat dance pop because it both matches and fuels my cheery and energetic day to day personality. I most appreciate “Feel Special” because within its positive and uplifting grooves, it contains more melancholy lyrics about feeling alone, motionless, and without purpose.
These more somber lyrics spurred me to reflect on my own history of feeling misunderstood and isolated. Continue reading →
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 →
Multiple people have mistreated me within my several years within academia. This mistreatment has taken the form of gaslighting, lashing out at me over innocuous statements, and borderline emotional abuse. One of the reasons I try to keep this blog somewhat low key (e.g., I changed my Twitter handle so it no longer contains my full name) is so that I have a safe space to share about my experiences without too much fear of repercussion.
While I like research, the culture of academia often annoys and disheartens me. I know so many folks who have mistreated me and other students who have tenure or will get tenure just because they publish a lot of peer-reviewed articles. I have met people who conduct research about social justice topics and then directly perpetuate harm and white supremacy culture. I have seen people who have made multiple students cry and then take no accountability for their actions. While I know many others experience similar forms of harm in other environments (e.g., nonprofits, the arts) due to the intersection of patriarchy and capitalism and white supremacy, I still sometimes feel sickened by my own participation in a system that allows people, including people of color, to treat vulnerable students with such malice and lack of care.
I felt down in the dumps about academia and my participation in it after experiencing another painful incident earlier this week. In my worst moments of distress, I remembered a research mentor I had in undergrad who I still keep in touch with. Continue reading →
In 2019, I started a clinical placement at a community health center in a city near where I live. This upcoming May, I will end my time there and my relationships with the clients I have worked with for over a year. Because I feel that people in helping professions should practice consistent self-reflection and because I enjoy over-disclosing about my various emotional experiences on the internet writing, I want to process what it feels like to say goodbye from my perspective, the clinician’s perspective. When I soak in my emotions about my impending goodbyes with my clients, I first think about the goodbye I experienced four years ago, with the first therapist I saw long-term, L.
When I reflect on my goodbye with L now, I feel a sense of calmness and serenity, that even though our work together felt difficult, I processed my PTSD and grew a lot as a result. However, when I reread the post I wrote four years ago right after our relationship ended, I remember all the emotions I experienced then. Continue reading →
After experiencing my mom’s abuse as a child, I knew around the age of 12 that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people and making a difference. Over a decade ago, as a kid, life felt arbitrary and meaningless – like, what force decided that I would be born into a family with this cruel and dysregulated monster? Somehow I decided to create my own purpose: if I could not control the circumstances of my birth, I would take charge of my destiny and devote myself to empathy and compassion.
A few weeks ago, I judged myself for my former crush on AWLOB (attractive writer labor organizer boy), the queer Asian organizer I pined for from December 2018 to mid-June 2020. Long story short, he messaged me through this blog, we began an intense email conversation, then started and stopped that convo as he broke up with his boyfriend of five years (December 2018), told me he felt attracted to me (January 2019), then began seeing other guys even before getting over his boyfriend (apparently throughout 2019 to 2020). I ended my desire for him in June 2020 after I sent him a pretty mean email about how he hurt my feelings.
Over the past few weeks, I have thought to myself, Thomas, how the heck did you not know this guy was garbage from the beginning?Continue reading →
The other day I talked for two and a half hours with this really cute radical Asian guy from California. Over Zoom, we chatted about what got us into leftist frameworks, discrimination in the dating scene, and whether it felt possible to create meaningful justice-oriented change in academia. I liked our conversation a lot. While I tend to be outgoing and energetic in conversations, he had a chill and mellow vibe I found refreshing. The somewhat unfortunate news: he’s straight.
I am letting myself feel sad about his straightness. I recognize that even if he were not straight, we had literally one conversation which may not have turned into anything anyway. But this California guy stood out to me. One of my previous crushes was radical yet not emotionally available or mature, and another was more emotionally available yet not that radical. California guy seemed to have both, the radical social justice leaning and the emotional availability. I feel a little sad about not getting to know him in a romantic way.
Over the past few years, I have gotten a lot better about giving myself space to feel sadness. Continue reading →
Sometimes I worry about whether I will abandon my values and settle for a mediocre man. I process this worry through journaling, talking with friends, and writing on this blog so the concern does not affect my life much. A few weeks ago though, I had an incident with a man that hurt my feelings for about an hour, which then triggered this fear-provoking question: will I get so tired of disappointing men that I will eventually settle for some random man who doesn’t excite me much but is nice, pays for meals occasionally, and can hold a conversation about a mildly interesting topic for one (1) hour every other week?
This fear of settling for a man gets inflamed in part because of observing many people I know settle for men. Continue reading →