Several years ago, I judged one of my two best friends because she worked in marketing. She and I met through a part-time job we shared in undergrad, and we bonded over our enjoyment of writing and our shared Vietnamese ethnicity. During undergrad, we did not talk much outside of work, and we did not grow into best friends until a few years after we both graduated. We had different social circles back then, with hers including a boyfriend of several years. I also used to evaluate people more based on their jobs, and I thought more highly of people whose professions directly involved helping others or promoting social justice.
Our friendship intensified beginning in late 2018 to early 2019. This best friend and I love ourselves no matter what any man thinks of us, which introduces an element of irony because men helped bring us closer together. At that time, I found myself in a situationship with an academically successful, artistic, emotionally unavailable Asian man. She was in the midst of navigating a situationship with an exciting, chaotic, and uncommunicative man who shared her sense of humor. We texted each other support about these men; even now, we laugh about how she texted me while holding her phone underneath a boardroom table during an important meeting to roast the guy I found myself attracted to back then.
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 →
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 →
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 →
A couple weeks ago I felt sadness at the thought of winter approaching. I struggled to figure out what brought on this sadness. At first, I wondered if the emotion stemmed from the impending coldness and darkness cutting off my ability to go on walks and jogs outdoors, my break from the boringness of staying indoors. Several nights ago, though, I had a dream that helped me realize the true root of my sadness: that this winter marks one year since I broke up with one of my former closest friends.
Several hours ago, I went on a date with this guy who works in geographic information science. What we talked about felt fine – him considering getting a PhD and my feelings about almost having one, him resisting stereotypical images of Black men growing up and me loving myself as a gay Asian man in my mid-twenties, him wanting a spontaneous romantic partner and me wanting a social justice-oriented one. Toward the end of the date though, I recognized that I felt bored. This guy came across as kind, self-aware, and communicative, yet I noticed I had not laughed once. So, on my way back home I texted him and said that I would enjoy a casual friendship or friends with benefits situation, given that I did not feel any romantic chemistry.
A few months ago, I talked with one of my good friends L about a disturbing phenomenon we observe in the Asian American community: Asian Americans who prefer to date white people. While texting her about this issue, I encountered this video about Asian American women who talk about their preference for dating white men. I felt so disturbed watching this video because it reminded me of queer Asian men I know who prefer dating white guys over Black, Indigenous, and other men of color (BIMOC). While this whole video reeked of internalized racism and anti-Black racism, one comment that annoyed me in particular: the notion that white men are “more confident” than Asian men.
I despise the notion of white men being “more confident” than Asian men because that idea so often fails to take into account the effects of white privilege and racism. Continue reading →
For the past week and a half, I have not held a crush on any man, which has felt both liberating and odd. Though I enjoy the extra man-less brain space and feel so happy and content without a man in general, a part of me still craves to have a crush on some man. In rare moments I find myself fantasizing about an unnamed, unfaced man of color who cares about others, has his life together, and reads books. Though I can very well imagine a life in which I remain “single” forever and thrive like the radiant gay redhead Vietnamese icon I am, my occasional fantasizing and the many posts about men on this blog force me to confront that I on some level still desire romance.
Most of the time I feel frustrated that I want a man at all because wanting a man feels pointless. The other day though, while reflecting on this desire, I felt such gratitude toward my two closest friends because they fulfill for me what any man could and would. Continue reading →
I like to think of myself as a pretty empowered person. While I recognize the importance of collective liberation over individual empowerment, I value my empowerment in terms of defying stereotypes about submissive gay Asian men. A few weeks ago, though, I found myself struggling to integrate this idea of an empowered self with another part of my life: the abuse and hurt people have put me through, especially my mother.
My angst reached a crescendo the day after my birthday, as I sat on my couch listening to “Break Free” by Ariana Grande. Continue reading →
In 2019, I fell out love with one of my closest friends, A. I remember a couple of our FaceTime calls during the last few months of our friendship, when she talked about how she and her boyfriend felt unsure about where they would live after she ended her internship year. My friend wanted to move closer to her family down south, whereas her boyfriend wanted to stay closer to his family in the mid-Atlantic region.
“And after we talked I just thought, what if he’s gonna break up with me?” A said to me, after one of those tenser conversations with her boyfriend.
Who the heck cares, I thought to myself, though I said other things to my friend: I’m sure you two will work it out, it sounds like you’ve both been practicing healthy communication, I hope you can take care of yourself through this. Taking a step back, of course I understood why my friend cared about if her boyfriend would break up with her. She had moved to a new state where she knew no one, then she started dating this guy, and he acted as her only in-person support system. Whenever they got into fights, she always asked me: what if he breaks up with me, and I’m all alone in [name of state redacted for confidentiality]?