[Chapter 24] What’s in a name?


A compelling point made by ox-85 and counterpoint given by cogitoreklo (please read them! very thought-provoking and they will inform your reading of this entry) and I see the value in both of the OPs’ arguments and commentary. Now, I present my unsolicited opinion that will probably come about as a weird amalgam of running-from-the-mouth thoughts and an attempt at structured argument.

For the longest time, I chose not to tag any of my posts “gaysian.” In line with the rejection of labels cogitoreklo mentions, I did not want to be categorized, or miscategorized, as a certain type of person based on how I chose to tag my material. Simply said, I did not want to be known only as a “gaysian” blogger. Though my writing sometimes carries themes and experiences that other gaysians have or can relate to, I am more than just gay, just Asian, and just that intersection. By choosing not to tag myself as a gaysian blogger, I allowed my writing and other posts to further define what my blog meant to my readers and to myself.

However, ox-85 has forced me to think a bit farther from my own keyboard. In our society today, names and labels have power. Unfortunately, society is not color-blind, class-blind, gender-blind, nor sexual orientation-blind and this will continue to be the sad reality (with regards to discrimination/subjugation with mal intent – I think difference and diversity among people are actually quite special and ought to be celebrated) for quite sometime. I am not an evolutionary biologist, nor am I an anthropologist or sociologist, but in my amateur, germane observations of my world, I cannot help but notice discrimination and separation based on group characteristics (ranging from race to commonly held interests). Most notably, communities that are not within power with regards to socioeconomic status (in the continental US that being upper/middle class, white, heterosexual men) are systematically disenfranchised through education, the justice system, politics, and, most pertinently, the media (of course, there are many more avenues of oppression).

When a questioning and confused 13 year old logs into Tumblr and wants to do research on what being “gaysian” or “gay” means, what will he see? Perhaps that example is a bit too unrealistic (if I were 13 right now, I’d probably use Tumblr for p0rn), but my point is this. Why am I afraid to label myself as gaysian (insofar as it comes to Tumblr tagging)? Is it because I think of the older, white men who called me their “gaysian doll”? Is it because I’m a bit uncomfortable of the blogs who fetishize the Asian body with image after image of declothed Asian men? 

Though I wish to be free from identity markers and the pervasive judgments that arise from them, I’m not and never will be. Though the essence of each identity is something I was born with, society is who bestows it meaning and creates divisions accordingly. I cannot singlehandedly change how humanity views and interprets identity and its intersections, but what I can do is address my own discomfort in tagging posts a certain way and actualize the underlying reasons for my hesitation. 

So, I have decided to post under the “gaysian” tag. What I am afraid of is being lumped into this group identity under which I do not identify, but distancing myself from a problematic situation does not cease making it a problem.  I can change that.

I am gay and I am Asian. Those are two identities to which I do ascribe in real life because I realize that there is power and worth in them and I make deliberate choices in how and to what they degree they mean to me. Further, they are very real and very significant communities of people with shared experiences that help inform me on how I wish to live my life.

In deciding to tag under “gaysian,” I think we are doing some of the same community-building on a smaller scale. I completely affirm one’s choice to post what they want in whatever tag on tumblr; it’s their right. However, I also now see there’s an important choice I can make in affirmatively posting to this tag, not necessarily to reclaim or co-opt, but rather to add my voice to the spectrum of experiences.

We are influenced by the judging eyes of others and so often the minority are only seen as one mass wave of people, but we can shift these views because our identities are fluid, ever-changing from our individual voices. 


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