Sometimes I lift my shirt up in front of the mirror and sigh because I have a stomach. I could make this go away pretty easily, I think to myself, after I suck my fat in and my torso turns flat. A plan comes to mind: cut out dinner, eat only yogurt for breakfast and salad for lunch, and treat myself to potato chips and a soda on the occasional weekend. The regime feels familiar, because I implemented it often back in my early teen years.
At that time in my life, my mom yelled at me for hours almost every day, a doctor once told me I could stand to lose a few pounds, and a Korean girl I had talked to for weeks over AIM called me ugly when I finally sent her a photo of myself. Continue reading →
Sometimes I worry about how much I write about men on this blog. Omg, I think to myself, Do my negative two readers imagine me as a Gaysian who sits in their apartment, stares at the wall for hours on end, waiting for a man of color to rail themas Blackpink plays in the background? When I let myself feel this concern for a bit, I recognize that what my readers think of me matters less to me than what I think of myself: can I practice self-kindness about my attraction to men?
“If my attraction to men were a flower,” I told my therapist in our most recent session, “I feel like I’d either want it to bloom fully, or I’d want it not to exist. Like I’d either want to date a guy or just not be attracted to men at all.”
“Let’s run with this analogy,” my therapist said, her voice challenging yet warm. “I feel like you’ve been doing a really nice job of nurturing the flower.”
She may have been referring to how I have gone on four dates with three different cute Asian guys within the past month. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
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 includeCall 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 →
The other day I had a thought spiral about whether I will ever date a man. I felt frustrated, wondering what I had done in my past life (e.g., vote for Ronald Reagan) to deserve my attraction to men, while simmering in the injustice of not having met a man who interests me. When I slowed down and named these thoughts and feelings, I realized: wait a second, I literally don’t care about dating a man. I would be 100% happy if someone told me right now that I will never meet a man I want to date, or if I’d meet this person in ten years, or five. I recognized then that my angst came less from a lack of romance and more so from a lack of control about when and how this person may emerge or not.
A few days ago, I got a text from my bio mom that reminded me of where some of my control issues come from. Continue reading →
In my pre-teen years, I gained a somewhat large internet following through writing Naruto fanfiction on fanfiction.net. While I always wrote stories that occurred within the original Naruto series, other writers created narratives that occurred in alternative universes, or AUs, like if the characters went to modern-day high schools or worked in modern-day bars or nightclubs. This past week, I reflected on an alternate universe in which my situationship with my former crush, AWLOB, played out differently. 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.
Earlier this week I talked with my therapist about my man struggles. Over a lagging video call, I shared my frustrations about how I have not had a serious crush on a guy for a few months and how I do not know if or when I will ever desire a specific man again.
“It’s not even that having a boyfriend would improve any area of my life, because my life is already complete,” I said. “I just wish I knew now if I would meet a guy on February 8, 2022. Or at 3pm on April 5, 2023. Or if I just will never meet a man I want to date and fall in love with.”
“But what would you be missing if you never met a man you fell in love with?” she asked.
“Literally nothing,” I said. “It’s just the not knowing.”
After this session, I thought a lot about how the unexpectedness of whether I will meet a man who I want to dominate me date bothers me. Unlike a lot of people I know, I feel so content and complete with myself, my closest friends, and my various ways of trying to make a difference in the world. Continue reading →
Over the past month or so I thought about whether I should change my red hair back to black, or even to a tamer brown. In the next couple of years, I will apply for my psychology predoctoral internship as well as for a faculty position or postdoc. Because of white supremacist professionalism, I figured I may want to play it safe and revert to a more common hair color. Then, BlackPink’s “Lovesick Girls” came out and Rosé wrecked me as well as everyone else on this planet with her fabulous pink hair. Upon witnessing her gorgeous emotive performance in the “Lovesick Girls” music video, I thought to myself, oh, I have to go pink now. I chose to color my hair pink because pink represents my commitment to accepting and loving myself as a femme queer Vietnamese American who survived an eating disorder and PTSD, who does not care about fitting into white supremacist and patriarchal societal standards.
My journey of self-love and self-acceptance started with my grandmother. Continue reading →