The other day I spoke with an older Gaysian guy I respect. He first gave me some advice about my Psychology residency application process, and our conversation later turned to topics such as the political roots of queer Asian men’s romantic desires. He expressed some ideas about white supremacy and transracial adoption I hadn’t yet put into words, which I appreciated.
At one point, though, as we talked about how internalized racism may motivate fellow Gaysian men to date white men, he said something along the lines of: “well, if gay Asian men don’t have any other options around them, is it their fault to be with a white man even if he’s basic or a fetishizer? It’s like Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games, it’s not like they had a choice to kill other people. I’m not saying it’s the ideal scenario, but if gay Asian men don’t have other options, I’m not sure I blame them.”
I want to make it clear that I do not think this older Gaysian himself endorsed the idea of Gaysian men settling for white men (just in case this Gaysian somehow happens to stumble upon this blog post, I think you’re rad and cool and otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to you!) However, I felt struck by the logic underlying this analogy, that not having any romantic prospects removes you of your agency to the same extent as being forced to kill other people against your will by a totalitarian police state. And yet, I have heard the same sentiment uttered by a less rad older queer Asian man
who is now engaged to a white man who couldn’t hold a conversation on his own when I met him, uh yikes, that it’s not about if you’ll settle, it’s about who you’ll eventually settle for.
What strikes me as most bizarre about this idea that you have to settle for the romantic prospects in your geographic area, is the implicit notion that you have to settle for a romantic prospect at all. Continue reading
My romantic attraction to men often makes me feel trapped. Because I grew up with an abusive, unpredictable mother and because my personality leans toward independence in and of itself, I like feeling in control, like I have the autonomy to shape my surroundings without anyone else interfering. Feeling attracted to men makes me feel trapped because my friends and I have encountered so many mediocre men. I also feel trapped because we live in an amatonormative society that prioritizes romantic love above all else.
Over the past week and a half, I have spent a lot of time and energy reflecting on my romantic attraction to men and my dislike of it. While listening to BlackPink’s song “Lovesick Girls” on repeat nonstop, I started to wonder: wait, what if the issue here is not my romantic attraction to men itself, rather, what if it’s the way we socialize men as well as the way the state and related media glorifies romantic love (e.g., people in marriages get tangible financial and other benefits while people who are not married do not)? Continue reading
A few days ago, I had a dream about a former crush of mine. In the dream, I reached out to him through Goodreads messenger and asked if he could talk. He said
wow Thomas, even in your sleep you’re obsessed with books and Goodreads, no wonder I’m not good enough for you yes and we agreed to talk on Friday afternoon. When Friday morning came around, he messaged me and said he could no longer talk on Friday afternoon because he had double booked himself. He asked me if I could talk sometime the following week instead.
When I woke from this dream, I remember feeling so hurt that my former crush canceled on me. Yet, I wondered why my psyche included him in my sleep, because I feel literally nothing about him at all at this point in my life.
“I’m pretty sure my ex-crush was a stand in for my father,” I said to my therapist a few hours after my dream. Continue reading
BlackPink released a new single last week and I may have fanboy screamed about it a lot since then. When I reflect on why I like BlackPink so much, I think a lot about my childhood. Growing up, I received a lot of binary role models related to gender – my mother acted in a lot of toxically masculine and abusive ways, whereas my grandmother embodied nurturance, softness, and kindness. Though I knew they were both women, I came to associate my mother – because of her cruel behaviors – with masculinity and I viewed my grandmother as an exemplar of femininity. Of course, I wanted to be like my grandmother and not my mother, so I clung to femininity, emotionality, and gentleness all throughout my childhood and adolescence.
As I’ve written about before, later on I realized the perils of my hyperfemininity. As a more femme guy, I had become so scared of asserting myself and expressing any anger that I developed an eating disorder in middle school and early high school. I took out my rage on my own body instead of propelling it into crushing the patriarchy. I didn’t learn until therapy and my feminist friendships in undergrad to assert myself and that I could assert myself without acting like my mother.
I discovered BlackPink right after I graduated from undergrad. Continue reading
The other day I reached complete closure on an on-and-off crush I held for the past year and a half. Though part of me judges myself for how long it took to finally let go of this guy for good, I also feel proud of myself for the lessons I learned along the way.
“I just don’t understand,” I said to my therapist over Zoom, talking about my former crush. “He’s done so much organizing for so many social justice causes. How could he be so bad at organizing himself and his own internal issues?”
“Emotions can be hard to confront, Thomas,” she said, in her usual patient and kind tone. “A lot of people will throw themselves into their work and professional lives to avoid doing their internal work. That’s what he could’ve been doing, which is very unlike you to do.”
When my therapist said this, so many pieces in my mind started falling into place. Continue reading
I turn 25 in a couple of weeks so I have spent time reflecting on my growth as a person, including my sexual identity and romantic attraction to men. While I have unsurprisingly not yet met a man I want to date, I have learned something about the guys I’m generally into: I’m turned on by guys who can dominate me. In other words, I’m a bottom.
It feels weird to out myself as a bottom on the internet, though it feels weirder to claim that identity given the stigma I’ve internalized about it, especially as a gay Asian man. Continue reading
Yesterday in the middle of a Coronavirus-inspired haze, I found myself indoors watching dirty videos. It all felt fun and pleasurable until I came across this comment:
In all honesty, when I first saw that racist comment, I just exited that webpage and found a better use of my time. I feel sad admitting this, but the comment did not surprise me. A lot of people have written about how queer Asian men are fetishized and perceived as subservient by white gays, and I’ve already written about how we as queer Asian men are socialized to desire a white man’s love. This racist comment made me roll my eyes but did not elicit more emotion than that.
Today though, I remembered this comment while out on a socially distant jog. And suddenly I felt pissed. Continue reading
I grew up as a pretty girly guy. Ever since a young age, I liked pink and floral colors and designs, gravitated toward female television and video game characters, and hung out almost all the time with girls. I derived a lot of benefits from this association with the feminine: empathy, communication skills, valuing softness over brute force. At the same time, I also encountered the message that I should want boys to like me, or that desire always flowed in one direction: other boys did the desiring, whereas I desired the desire of other boys.
Until I grew into my own social justice awakening and until I met my bff Bri in undergrad, my female friends and I would often interpret a guy’s rejection as a fault of our own. If a guy did not exhibit interest in us, we took it as a sign that we did something wrong. Maybe we cared too much. Maybe we should weigh less. Maybe we expected too much communication. Some of my friends and I analyzed the motives of men with the ferocity of rabid chihuahuas, bloodthirsty for emotional intimacy and care. We gossiped about whether their past relationships and traumas inhibited their capacity to connect. We strategized on ways to conduct ourselves to maximize their comfort and openness.
Things more iconic than spending time on emotionally under-developed men #313: eating iconic Asian food while reading in San Diego during a conference! This took place in October, at the restaurant Underbelly. The pork belly bao buns were iconic.
Imagine my surprise when a cisgender, heterosexual white male acquaintance of mine in undergrad did the exact opposite. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I was texting with an acquaintance of mine, a smart and passionate and kind woman. This friend started dating a white man this year and they already moved in together. I shared with her about my struggle to find friends who feel as passionately about friendship as I do.
“I fully believe in nurturing all healthy relationships, but there are only so many hours in a day and we can’t commit to everyone the same,” she texted. “It’s easy to get hurt when you go outside the script.”
I responded about how I feel that the script itself confines people into valuing romantic partnership above all else, how the script hurts people who do not conform to heteronormativity. In all honesty, I felt a bit annoyed at this acquaintance. Like, given her feminist leanings, how could she not discern how patriarchal and heteronormative romance is? But then she shared that she had tried to form a non-sexual life partnership with a friend who turned her down, an experience she found discouraging. Her sharing this shifted most of my annoyance into empathy, as well as anger at the heteronormative patriarchy.
I share anecdote this because sometimes I freak out about whether the script will consume me. Continue reading
I once fell in love with the perfect boy. Of course, he never texted me back. Continue reading