Follower Friday: andytrannnn

Follower Fridays is a series of profiles highlighting members of Gaysian Third Space to showcase the diversity of gaysians in the Community. This week’s featured member is @andytrannnn

Who are you?

I’m Andy Tran.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (Minnesota).

What do you do?

I’m a provider in family and community engagement, marital & family therapy, and family financial studies. I have a B.S. degree in Family Social Science. I am currently a senior at the University of Minnesota going towards a second degree in Kinesiology with a minor in World Religion expecting to graduate this upcoming Fall of 2018.

What are you passionate about?

Few of the things that I am passionate about is learning about different cultures, engaging and giving back to the community, become an advocate for various issues such as mental health, LGBTQ+, policies and many more. I enjoy listening to individuals or either them and their partner when they are stuck at the end of the road, giving them advice and trying to point them towards the right direction.

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

My dream job is to work within the government in order to spread more awareness of the LGBTQ+ asian community, but to also work with families who are in need. If I end up not working within the government then I hope that by working with a non-profit organization will being more knowledge and ways for me to bring out to the community and spread awareness. 

If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?

If I  could change the world with one idea, it’d probably be finding a way to fit a policy that could work for everyone, rather than having corruptions. I want to create a policy that revolves and works for individuals and their families rather than having policies that split between the rich between poor or the fact that because they are from a different place and have a different background. Just a policy that could work for everyone no matter where they are from, what kind of background they have or their status is. 

Any personal plugs?

www.facebook.com/andyquangtran

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Diary Entry #28: Realizing the Authentic Self—The Journey of a Transgendered Korean Adoptee

thegaysiandiaries:

Dear Diary,

Being a transgendered Korean adoptee has meant a life-long process of coming to terms with identity issues related to gender identity and sexuality as well as to racial, ethnic and national identity. Just as I have always known that I was an adoptee, I have always known that I was transgendered; but precisely what that meant to me and to the larger world would take me decades to understand and articulate.

While there are obvious differences between the experiences of those lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people who grow up in Korean American families and my adoptive family – my Norwegian American father and my German American mother and grandmother, all devout Lutherans – the patriarchal heteronormativity of Korean and Korean American families is strikingly similar to that of the German American culture of Milwaukee in the 1960s that I grew up with.

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My parents were not merely ‘Sunday Christians’; they were as devout and committed Christian fundamentalists as are to be found in most any Korean American church in Koreatown in Los Angeles or in Flushing or Skokie. I knew I was transgendered as long as I can remember and certainly by the age of four, though I didn’t have the vocabulary to express it; puberty brought about a realization of my attraction to other male-bodied creatures; but I also realized at a very young age that gender identity and sexual orientation were not topics I could discuss with my parents.

Around the time of my confirmation, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was taken over by its fundamentalist wing, coinciding with a change in minister at our home church. The likable and theologically moderate pastor I had grown up with and who had confirmed me left us to lead an LCMS congregation in Iowa and was replaced by a fundamentalist minister who preached fire-and-brimstone homophobic sermons from the pulpit just as I was trying to come to terms with same-sex attractions that began with puberty. These developments hastened my exit from the mother church when I moved away to go to college.

I came out as gay in my first semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but I understood even then that my first coming out was incomplete one, as it addressed my sexuality but not my gender identity. I spent my fourth year at the UW in a study abroad program in London and stayed for a second year to do my master’s degree at the London School of Economics. In that second year in London, I began going out regularly in public dressed as a woman for the first time, and it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. But when I returned to the United States after my two years abroad, I also went into a period of denial about my gender identity. However, my mother did come to accept my sexuality just before her death only a few months after my return from London, though she never knew about my transgender identity. (My father died just before I turned 13, and so he and I never had the opportunity to discuss – or argue about – sexuality and gender issues.)

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After a career in public relations and another one in academia, I came out as an openly transgendered woman when I moved to Queens in 1997. And while my first coming out was a huge step for me, my second coming out was bigger still in its implications for my life and work. It is not an exaggeration to say that I came out as transgendered through my activism and advocacy work, co-founding a number of organizations, including Queens Pride House (the LGBT community center in Queens) and Iban/Queer Koreans of New York (Iban/QKNY) in 1997 and the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) in 1998.

I also came to see a parallel between my identity as a transgendered woman and my identity as a Korean adoptee: just as I came to realize that the sex/gender binary constructed an artificial and ultimately false dichotomy between ‘man’ and ‘woman’ (heteronormatively defined), I came to understand that I had a set of experiences and a life history as a Korean adoptee that was distinct from that of Koreans or Korean Americans just as it was different from European Americans, despite my having grown up in a white household and in an all-white neighborhood on the south side of Milwaukee. What had impeded the resolution of both identity complexes had been a false discourse of authenticity; the authentic identity was to be found only through an articulation of the true self and its ultimate expression through advocacy on behalf of those communities of which I was a member.

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In February 2000, NYAGRA launched the public campaign for the transgender rights law ultimately enacted by the New York City Council in April 2002. Leading that legislative campaign was the honor of a lifetime, and since that campaign, I have found many other opportunities to speak out on behalf of queer Koreans and other Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) and the LGBT community at the local, state, and national levels.

In June 2005, I was honored to be the first openly transgendered person named grand marshal of the New York City LGBT Pride March, the oldest and largest pride march or parade in the world; and in June 2015, during my first trip back to Korea since my adoption at the age of seven and-a-half months, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Queer Korea Festival/Seoul Pride Parade, addressing an audience estimated at over 35,000, the largest and most successful event in the history of the LGBT community in Korea up until that time.

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Last year, I spoke at LGBT conferences in Oslo and Madrid as well as giving a talk in Oslo last June about my participation in the first US LGBTQ tour of Palestine in January 2012. And I continue to serve as coordinator of the transgender support group at Queens Pride House, work that I know is helping to empower people from many different demographic groups and from across the gender ‘spectrum.’ As the Mahatma Gandhi so aptly put it, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Pauline Park

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jackdsg: fuckyeahfuckstory: anonymously-r-a-w: Paradise is a…

jackdsg:

fuckyeahfuckstory:

anonymously-r-a-w:

Paradise is a place behind your eyes

What did I do to deserve a life with you
When your love is all I need and all I need is your love

Featuring Original Single “Paradise” by Joshua Simon

nice one! finally a local full gay-themed short movie. love the actors though. great job. ;>

We love unconditionally. Surprisingly good short film about our kind of love. Must watch. Starring two actors whom we know.

Follower Friday: souffle-soul

Follower Fridays is a series of profiles highlighting members of Gaysian Third Space to showcase the diversity of gaysians in the Community. This week’s featured member is @souffle-soul

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Who are you?

Hi! I’m Matt, and I use he/him/his. I’m 20 years old, Chinese-American, and so very gay (getting gayer every day). I think of myself as a jack of all trades; my hobbies include acapella, dance, makeup, nail painting, plushie making, cooking, baking, and more! I love trying new things, and I always try my best to be good at what I do.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in San Jose, California. I’m also temporarily based in New Jersey for school, but I’m planning on returning to the west coast after graduation; I’d like to end up close to the rest of my family, and the allure of good Asian food is also quite difficult to resist.

What do you do?

I’m currently studying Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. On campus, I’m active in an acapella group (VTone) and two dance groups (Triple 8 and Koko Pops), and I believe those all have videos public on Youtube, so you can check those out if you want. I’m also an LGBT peer educator on campus.

Over the summer I’m a software engineer intern at Facebook, so I’m back in the bay for the next few months. Looking forward to eating lots of good food and reconnecting with my friends!

What are you passionate about?

I would probably have to say that I’m really passionate about music. The exhilaration that I feel when jamming out to a great tune is indescribable, and when I get really busy, I like to take some time to relax by belting my favorite songs or dancing in an empty dance studio.

I’m also particularly passionate about deconstructing and destroying norms of toxic masculinity. I think that toxic masculinity is to some extent at the root of both sexism and anti-LGBTQ sentiment, and furthermore is also harmful to cishet men. At the moment, opposing toxic masculinity for me is expressing non-traditionally-masculine attributes and interests in everyday life, whether it be nails, makeup, or body language, which has made me much happier as a person. Though I’m not sure if things will improve in the short-term, I’m optimistic that over my lifetime our culture may become less strict about gendered expectations.

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist, because I absolutely love all marine animals (especially the weird ones). I’d browse articles on Wikipedia, and daydream about scuba diving every day or exploring tide pools along the coast.

Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that I maybe don’t want to spend my days seasick, but a little part of me still thinks I could’ve made it work.

If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?

I’d probably want to remind people that a little empathy can go a long way. There may be plenty of people who you can’t see eye to eye with, but I think that it’s still important to have empathy, to be forgiving where forgiveness is earned, and to understand that people have had different experiences than you have.

This is not to say that you should keep people who negatively impact your life or livelihood as acquaintances (you probably shouldn’t), but rather that you do not need to believe that someone lacks basic humanity in order to justifiably disagree with them.

consenting to normal – Hyejin Shim – Medium

consenting to normal – Hyejin Shim – Medium:

In the mainstream, “real” sexual violence often needs to be proven through a deeply unjust legal system or multiple forms of incontrovertible evidence. Then, it must be brought to “justice” by criminalization and/or complete exile (usually incarceration). […] The legal/binary frame of sexual violence assumes that all real forms of sexual violence or harm must be immediately legible as crimes, and therefore be treated as such. (And If not legible as a crime, then it must not be real sexual violence, or even very harmful at all.)

There is an immense amount of pressure for survivors to be the right kind of victim with the right kind of assault story and all the right kind of evidence, because the punishments that follow must also be harsh and absolute. In this paradigm, there is little room for cases where survivors want safety and accountability without criminalization or social isolation, and little room for people who may want accountability for sexual harm that they themselves may not identify as sexual assault or rape. In spite of how varied the experiences of sexual violence and harm can be, the collective responses that we currently have remain painfully limited. As Native organizer and writer Kelly Hayes says, “We exceptionalize both “good” and “bad” people to spare ourselves the labor of interrogating normalcy — the very space in which most harm occurs.”

Affirmative consent, which is often discussed as the main remedy for normalized sexual violence and harm, is increasingly also used as the metric for determining what is and isn’t legitimate sexual practice, or what is and isn’t legitimate sexual violence and harm. […] I may not have all the words for this yet, but I believe that there is much more to safety, dignity and respect in sex than to agreements and permission. In addition, sexual assault and coercion, as well as many instances of sexual harm, are not simply a result of people failing to recognize the signs of when someone is uncomfortable or afraid. It’s pushing forward in spite of them.

Verbal contracts and lessons in sexual etiquette aside, it seems that many people (particularly men, and people of all genders who do not treat their sexual partners well) often view negotiations of consent as ways to navigate liability or blame. What if instead, the conversations started with our humanity as women, queers, and people, first, and what we thought it meant to honor that? Not all sex will ever be guaranteed to be good, fulfilling or fun, but it shouldn’t have to feel like we are being pressured, or like it is exhausting, humiliating, traumatic, or scary because we aren’t being respected or truly seen.

Acknowledging that we can and often are harmed even in consensual sexual experiences, in “normal” sexual experiences, is not a cowardly attempt to shift blame, manipulate everyone, avoid responsibility and perpetually live as a victim, as some may imply. Rather, it is a practice in describing the oft-overlooked conditions of our sexual lives, giving voice to that feeling that something is not right, and moving towards reckoning with the far-reaching impacts of living in a world where sexual violence is the norm.

Diary Entry #26: My Firsts

thegaysiandiaries:

Dear Diary,

They say you never forget your first love. There’s a reason for this. When you first find yourself taken with another you’re taken by surprise. So, when you fall you free-fall and usually to the bottom of adolescence’s hormonal wishing well. You don’t go in guarded because you don’t know that falling in love is a thing to guard against, at least at first. This is especially true when you’re queer: no one tells you that the feelings you feel for your best friend might be more than those of friendship. You have to parse the pain to figure that out, and the trauma of this first romantic drama will co-author your love stories for the rest of your life.

Simply put: you never forget your first love because, if you’re lucky, your first love is also your first nonconsensual sensual relation.

Mine was, and it wasn’t my last either.

This is what I have to tell you.

He was my best friend, he insisted he was straight, and I’d fallen for him as the leaves fell for the ground around us on the day that everything changed. Teenager that I was, though, I didn’t know I’d fallen at the time. Not for certain. What I knew was that my desires were at war with each other. On one side, the desire to be normal made its last stand from a foxhole dug by the promises of state recognition, family acceptance, biological children, and privilege, pure and simple. On the other side of the war, the stronger side, the desire to touch and to be touched by this beautiful boy marched unstoppably over the battlegrounds of my mind.

We sat in his parents’ driveway that day, my car our only privacy. He spoke first: “what do you need from me?” My engine was running, the heat was on. I said, “I need you to kiss me.” If I’m being honest, dear Diary, I didn’t need him to kiss me to know how I felt. I wanted him to kiss me to know how that felt. (What is the difference between experimentation and instrumentalization?) There was a long pause before we held hands. It wasn’t the romance of laced fingers but the too-tight grip of two arms wrestling for safety. Then, with our eyes closed, we kissed. Our contact was as fleeting as it was infinite and Dashboard Confessional sang along the whole time.

We were two lonely brown boys just trying to survive the small minds of a small town. Our friendship was our only sanctuary from structural stupid—at least until the armies of my desire decided to raze it to the ground. Eventually I told him, “it hurts too much to be your friend.” His reply felt like a lie but I let it be true because I so badly wanted to: “What if I said that we should be more.” What followed were flashes of something just short of sex: mouths met moments that were once just fantasies; hands held tight to things that seemed too good to be true. And were they? Was he expressing a queer impulse even more impossible than my own, or was he simply so in need of a friend that he would give his desires over as hostages to mine?

I probably don’t have to tell you that whatever we had between us didn’t last.

Months later, having fled to college, I gave what was left of my gay virginity to the first cute-enough boy that would let me call him “boyfriend.” We did it in his basement dorm room and by “it” I mean…well, something. I remember wanting very badly to get all the below the belt stuff under my belt; I needed to be finished with firsts. So, bluntly, we took turns getting fucked. It felt like pain and pooping; we announced as much to one another as it happened. It was his first time, too. Looking back, we could have used some more lube and a lot more sex education. Still, it was fun—in the way that trying and failing to swim across the Discovery Zone ball pit was fun. I never imagined that my sexual fantasies would be less fantastic in reality until I actually tried to realize them, you know?

Sometimes—as in your first time(s)—you don’t know you have a boundary until you’ve already passed it. A move gets made, a line gets crossed, and you find yourself standing with someone else in territories ranging from uncomfortable to unsafe. What should happen then?  

A year or so after that first fuck, my first boyfriend, now my first ex-boyfriend, would offer his help upon noticing me drunkenly stumbling to the bathroom at a party. When we got there, he stood behind me as I stood over the toilet and vomited. I was tasting stomach acid and shame when it happened. I felt his hands unbuttoning my jeans, his fingers feeling around beneath my boxers. I didn’t say no (I was throwing up…), but I did struggle to remove his hands from my pants. He persisted, though, and I, barely able to hold my head up, stopped struggling. When my stomach finally emptied I turned to face him, but before I could wipe my mouth clean and my eyes clear he kissed me on the lips and forced his tongue against mine. After a few suffocating seconds I pushed myself free and hobbled back into the party.

It might surprise you but I didn’t think much of it at the time. It didn’t feel violent; it felt annoying and even arousing. He was probably horny and one drink away from where I was. It was stupid, sloppy seduction from someone I used to know—a forgivable crime.

I didn’t second-guess this until the next morning when he texted me an avalanche of apology. Surging, heavy, cold. “Please don’t say anything.” “It will never happen again.” “I’m so sorry.” Like most men, his apology was also a confession. Like most sexual assailants—so, again, like most men—he was a cliché, defined by his evil banality.

Even then, though, I didn’t want to do anything like press charges. Partially this was practical: I had no desire, as Sara Ahmed might put it, to become a problem by exposing a problem. Mostly, though, I didn’t want to press charges because I didn’t think that what happened was all that bad. Assaulted or not, I felt unscathed and unharmed—a product of my patriarchal privilege, no doubt, but still. Certainly, I thought, the impact of his actions did not warrant the consequences he might (but likely wouldn’t) face were I to accuse him of what he had done (and, as a good abolitionist, I didn’t much believe in that kind of punitive consequence anyway). Of course, some will say that my shame or masculinity or yet-to-be-unearthed trauma is causing me to misrecognize my own experience. They might be right, I guess, but I bet those same people would say that it’s my right to narrate that experience and to have that narration respected as truth.

Sometimes a boundary you know you have (or should have) gets crossed, but you find yourself feeling, like, fine or whatever. What should happen then?

I ask because the problems posed by my first love and my first ex-boyfriend are problems that I still confront all the time in gay male (queer masc?) contexts. Consider, for example, a gay bar. It’s happy hour and someone wraps their arms around me. I don’t consent to this, but they seem tipsy, friendly, and harmless enough so I giggle and wiggle away. That same night, someone, I don’t see who, grabs my ass. This act in a straight bar might cross a line, but does it here? Does the fact that I was more flattered than offended make it okay? Maybe we have to let go of hard and fast rules and acknowledge that we each draw our boundaries differently. But, of course, that’s just as tricky. If a super hot stranger kissed me goodbye on the lips I might love it; but, honestly, if a not so hot stranger did the same? No, thank you. So, are the conventionally pretty privileged (read: white/light, thin/built, cis/masc) less likely to transgress? That’s not a world I want to live in—though, duh, I already do—and this is to say nothing about what happens when new hands find involuntary hard-ons on a dance floor, or when some extra-extroverted someone backs into you at a sex party and you find yourself—surprise!—inside of them. Is that somehow not the unwanted sexual contact referenced in New York’s legal definition of sexual abuse? (I’m asking earnestly, not rhetorically.) Is this just the price we have to pay to play?

I doubt it and I have to ask: when does queer context provide for pleasures unknown to the straight world and when does it cause us to confuse sexual misconduct for something else: closeted boys being boys, a right of passage, a sloppy seduction, or a heretofore beloved form of non-normative intimacy?

My point: problems for queer sexual ethics don’t begin when one first attempts to manage multiple partners and they don’t end with the question of consent. They begin before we know they begin and they end when we die (or when our sex lives do). Let’s face it: the scripts of straight sexual ethics fit us like baseball gloves we never wanted. We don’t throw and catch on the same field or in the same way. We may not throw or catch at all. Of course, many queer subcultures have ethically sound sexual scripts, and, even when they don’t, sex without a script isn’t always a bad thing. The question, though, is this: What do we do when it is?

Let me know,

James McMaster 

James McMaster is currently political chair of GAPIMNY and a PhD candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU. Twitter and Instagram: @jmcmaster29

Follower Friday: gaysianadventures

Follower Fridays is a series of profiles highlighting members of Gaysian Third Space to showcase the diversity of gaysians in the Community. This week’s featured member is @gaysianadventures.

Who are you?

A current University student who has been lucky and privileged enough to live and work on opposite sides of the world!

Where are you from?

I would consider myself to be Vietnamese.

What do you do?

I’m a full time student. But you might catch me tutoring and cooking somewhere in Vancouver 😉

What are you passionate about?

Always been a writer at heart.

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

Writing for the big screen would be the dream! The thought of seeing my ideas and characters come to life on TV or Movies would be amazing!!

If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?

Hmm. I’d want people to have more empathy with each other.