March 1, 2023 · 11:05 am
In the academic department I’ll join later this year, everyone except me has a child. Seeing this reminded me of stigmatizing comments I’ve received about staying childfree, like an ex-friend who once said that my nurturing and feminist spirit would be wasted if I didn’t have a kid. I also thought of one of my past therapy supervisors who told me about how because she doesn’t have a kid, her former coworkers expected her to do more work, as if she didn’t have other things to do with her time.
To cope with this childfree stigma, I searched “childfree” in the Podcast app of my new iPhone and found the amazing “The Childfree Girls Podcast,” where three women living in different countries talk amongst themselves and with guests about being childfree. I’ve felt so validated after listening to just a few of their episodes. Continue reading →
January 28, 2023 · 7:06 am
A couple of years ago, I went on a date with a Filipino guy after I submitted my residency applications. We met at an Asian restaurant in northern Virginia sometime in December, late in the evening. We sat down, started eating, and talked about our work situations, music tastes, and dating histories. When I told him that I hadn’t dated a man long-term yet, he said “that’s surprising,” especially because I had been 26 at the time.
“What’s surprising about that?” I asked him. Continue reading →
January 19, 2023 · 2:58 pm
A few weeks ago, a cousin I have not spoken to for about a decade invited me to his wedding in Hawaii. I knew almost right away that I would decline the invitation. Yet, I felt guilty about saying no. I talked with one of my best friends about it a few hours after receiving the invitation which helped me feel better, and I decided to donate $30 to my cousin’s honeymoon fund instead. Still, his ask and my reaction to it lingered with me.
I felt a small drop of guilt for a few hours after I made up my mind to say no even though I had several strong reasons not to attend. Continue reading →
October 2, 2022 · 7:02 am
A couple of weeks ago I went on a coffee date with a queer Chinese man from my local gay tennis league. This guy loved talking about tennis, so I let him steer the conversation into topics such as: how long we had been playing tennis, how we felt about our performance in the summer challenge ladder, and tennis tournaments taking place in nearby cities. Somehow the conversation shifted into talking about racialized dating preferences. This man proceeded to tell me that he does not find it problematic for queer Asian men to prefer white men over men of other races *and* that he finds white and Asian men more attractive than Black and Latinx men. I felt triggered when he made these racist comments; my body tensed and I felt my heart rate increase. Later in the day I emailed him my recently published peer-reviewed paper on the topic and checked his name off on my mental list of men who I will not associate with in the future.
I talked about this encounter with one of my best friends Bri. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal
Tagged as colorism, dating, friendship, idealization, internalized racism, men, mental health, processing, romance, self-awareness, therapy, white supremacy
September 21, 2022 · 10:43 pm
This morning I woke up with excruciating pain in my right foot. I could not put any weight on it; if I tried to set my foot flat on the ground, I felt burning shots of fire run up my heel. After texting my best friends about it and changing into short shorts, I hopped on my left foot to the elevator of my apartment and then into an Uber that took me to a local hospital.
The doctor and nurse informed me that luckily, I did not rupture my Achilles tendon – I had just inflamed it. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal
Tagged as achilles tendon, amatonormativity, best friends, feelings, friends, friendship, gay, grief, injury, short shorts, uncertainty
August 17, 2022 · 10:14 pm
Several years ago, I met a woman in college who I will call P. P told me about how her boyfriend, K, once scheduled a virtual call to catch up with one of his best friends. His best friend did not show up to the call and did not let K know in advance. When I asked P if K intended to let his best friend know how this failure to attend the call affected K’s feelings, P shrugged and said that K did not have that type of relationship with this best friend. When P told me this, I thought to myself, no wonder K relies so much on P for his emotional support, if he does not even bring up with his best friends when they hurt his feelings.
This behavior reminds me of people who devalue friendship and prioritize their romantic partners. Earlier in my 20’s I would get more upset about this, and though I still do detest amatonormativity I think my feelings have softened. I suspect this softening has occurred because of how close I feel with my two best friends, both of whom I have had stable deep bonds with for several years now. Continue reading →
Filed under Personal, Society
Tagged as amatonormativity, fleabag, friendship, love, platonic, platonic love, relationships, secure attachment, security, trust
January 21, 2022 · 12:01 pm
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 →
Filed under Personal, Society
Tagged as amatonormativity, caroline knapp, dating, empowerment, friendship, liberation, mental health, relationships, romance, self-love
December 12, 2021 · 10:18 pm
Several nights ago I had a dream in which one of my former professors from undergrad told me that she had started seeing my old therapist, L. When I interacted with this professor in real life several years ago, I could sense that she possessed unaddressed mental health issues. So when she told me in the dream about seeing my former therapist L, I felt happy for her, though a bit confused that we spoke about this topic while standing in one of the large, open bathrooms of my childhood home. The dream then shifted to me standing alone in an empty hallway with blue carpeting. A single showerhead jutted out of the wall, and I washed my blonde hair and saw it turn purple. As water continued to pour onto my scalp, purple hair dye ran through my fingers, the original black and the newer blonde strands nowhere in sight.
When I woke up, I knew right away that my former professor represented my mother. Continue reading →
November 19, 2021 · 11:59 am
“You can name your emotion as an emotion,” my therapist L told me, in one of our first sessions six years ago. I showed up in his office beat up and bruised, at least on the inside: a close college friend and I had broken up a few months prior, my friendships with a few folks from high school had imploded, and I was experiencing mental breakdowns in several different buildings on campus. I asked L how to cope with emotions that felt overwhelming, and he directed me to an exercise called cognitive defusion, which I started to enact alongside mindfulness meditation on a daily basis. I practiced these mental health techniques rigorously, often multiple times a day, and in conjunction with weekly sessions with L, my PTSD symptoms started to dissipate.
Flash forward six years later to now: I have spent over 800 hours in L’s position, as the clinician sitting across from the client. Continue reading →
October 27, 2021 · 7:21 pm
I have seen my current therapist, a white lesbian woman, since June of 2018. When we met on Wednesday a week ago, I brought up an exchange we had during a pre-COVID session. Back then, I had told her once about how when one of the straight guys I played tennis with drove me home, I felt a strong physical attraction to him to the point where I would have wanted to make out with him if he had identified as queer and provided consent.
“I’m so jealous of you because when I told you about that, you literally said that you would have wanted to vomit if you had been sitting next to him,” I said, smiling. “I don’t know if there’s anything I wouldn’t give to be physically repulsed by men, honestly.”
“I get your frustration,” she said, laughing. The session contained a lot of positive energy. “But if you weren’t attracted to men, you wouldn’t be you.”
I have felt annoyed when my therapist has made similar comments in the past. Continue reading →