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 @bobbythejetsetter.
Who are you?
Ah..a question I battle with on a nightly basis. If the person I am today is different from the person I was yesterday, then who is this person I’m supposed to become tomorrow? Hah! I kid. I’m Bobby. Pleasure to meet you. Other than being a young, gay Asian male, I consider myself a jet setter, a blogger, a person who sings in the shower, and a storyteller. A simple question like that will take more than just a little paragraph to reveal what I’m all about. Alas, you shall see. 🙂
Where are you from?
I reside in a small, yet growing city in North Carolina where I can count on two hands how many Gaysians are in the whole state. It’s quite a boring state and the dating scene is totally not impressive, and one day I will finally make that move out of here. My family originated from Thailand and Laos.
What do you do?
I daydream a lot and tend to people watch in a way one might deem as super ultra mega weird. But people are quite a fascinating species.
I’m also a flight attendant. Yes, it can be glamorous, but it can also be downright dirty. I have a love/hate relationship with people.
Back in college, I majored in Psychology and International Studies and my hobbies include but not limited to blogging, making videos, writing short stories, and researching the most bizarre things I can find on the Internet.
What are you passionate about?
Exploring different cultures and how other people from all over the world behave. Educating, inspiring, and entertaining others. Empowering the Asian community as a whole and as individuals.
What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?
You mean besides putting on a costume and roaming the city streets at night fighting crime and saving damsels in distress? I hope to someday find a career that will combine everything I mentioned in what I do. I intend to make it happen.
If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?
I want to encourage and inspire people to be more collective, similar to people in European and Asian countries, but yet still embrace our individualism. If we learned to do things more as a group, such as cleaning up the city or building homes for homeless people, we can build a stronger community.
Put together a tour on the history of Chinatown activism from the 70s up until the present day and it was rejuvenating to just go through this really empowering history that happened in a community that I am a part of every week. And it was really great to be able to share that with other youth, who all seemed really engaged and interested in what they were hearing.
There were so many white tourist groups that were walking through Chinatown while we were giving our own tour and it makes me wonder: what the hell could these tour guides who aren’t even from the community possibly be talking about? We don’t need more white people speaking on Chinatown’s behalf. Honestly, if you’re going to pay the money, you should learn about the real history and not some surface-level Orientalist garbage (even if that’s not what they’re saying, again, the residents of Chinatown can speak for themselves).
I have never been the most art-inclined person ever, but I really love these murals painted by Smart Crew (the Canal Street/bootleg fake Coach bags in the Chinatown mural is GENIUS). And despite not really being the most art-inclined person, I see a lot of value to murals/cultural productions (such as the murals that were painted during the 70s that have been torn down since—thanks a lot, gentrification), because they are spaces carved out for a community to define itself in the midst of these gentrifying forces and white tour guides.
I feel that the more suffering I see the more my heart becomes shielded. Is it self-perseverance or an excuse designed to make myself feel better? I don’t know, perhaps there is truth in both.
The first time I’ve ever saw a child beg was on the streets of Rome. To be sure, they were with their mother who was suckling a newborn at her breast. To my sheltered eyes it was a disparate scene. Many had warned me to not give to mothers with children because of the possibility of abuse but who was I to judge their situation? The child had a guardian but his hollow cheeks and small ribs poking out from torn clothing spoke of a hard life that weighed heavier than the words of privileged tourists.
They were sitting outside the door to a fancy sandwich shop watching as the patrons came and went with their families. Everyone saw them but not an eye batted as everyone walked past them as if they were some unfortunate decoration, disliked but not worth paying attention.
I bought them 6 sandwiches from that shop. The child didn’t even dare look up at me, the mother eyes watered as she struggled to thank me in broken Italian.
As my travels have taken me to new places I’ve encountered ever growing experiences with the heartbreaking scenes of those disparate souls who have nothing left but to ask the world’s pity on the streets.
Memories of a boy and girl in particular comes to my mind. Both different lives but similar in their story of hardships and indifference by the world. Orphans of Buenos Aires, doomed to the streets at such an early age and to the fickle tempers of those they begged a bit of relief.
The boy wandering into the cafe where I happened to be that rainy morning. He didn’t beg but only wanted to seek a relent from the rain for a moment’s time. He hid himself behind a potted plant, hoping to not be noticed but soon enough a disgruntled staff member came to usher him out. I was torn but I waved at the staff and said that I would like to buy the boy some food, his answer was a clipped no. I left the cafe; they did not get a tip. Instead I gave that money to the boy, about 30 pesos. it wasn’t much but he gave me a quick hug and ran off into the bustle of the traffic.
The girl, she reminded me so much of my little sister as a child. She could not have been more than 10 or 11 but she already seemed so weary for one so young. Eyes downcast as she proffered sheets of stickers for sale on the subway transit. Her voice barely a whisper but her words fell fruitlessly on deaf ears. Only two pesos for a sticker she asked—only two pesos. On a whim, I asked her if I could look at her stickers. They were stickers of Disney characters; ironic and sad. I told her I wanted to buy all of them and gave her 50 pesos and told her to keep the change. She asked me if it was really okay for her to keep the change and her voice nearly broke my heart. I’ve kept her stickers in my journal till now.
But where am I going with all of this? I don’t know. It’s 3:34AM local time and my mind refuse to sleep. I’ve seen so many disparate people—adult and children—here in Bangkok and I feel so useless.
I start work soon and it will bring me to the Immigration Detention Center here on the outskirts of the city. Conditions are horrible and the authorities are corrupt. Families are separated and people are 80 persons to a room with everyone sharing one or two toilets. No one has mattresses and no one is allowed outside of their cells except on official business. Even the children get no respite. My soon to be co-worker said she wept the first time she went, the guards had taken the food she had brought for her refugee group and ate it in front of her and them.
I want to make a change. Even if it is small I will make it happen.
Thanks to @letters-to-charles for sharing his experiences.
There are a lot of people who are living in much more desperate conditions than we are. In someways, we all have a lot more privileges than our habits of complaining lead us to believe.
Self-designated “masc” gay males, when challenged, will often claim they are breaking stereotypes around homosexuality. What they don’t realise, though, is that they make exactly the same case around sexuality as the homophobe.
By having to constantly make a claim of masculinity, and by constantly demanding masculinity of others (masc4masc), they immediately make clear their assumption that homosexuality and effeminacy go hand in hand. That’s the same assumption homophobes make.
If they are in fact breaking stereotypes as they claim, then they shouldn’t need to describe themselves as masculine and they shouldn’t need to demand masculinity of others the way they do. It should just be obvious. It should just be something people can tell about them. And it should just be something they give so little thought to that they don’t need to spend a lot of their time promoting it about themselves.
A lot of people have noticed, and made jokes about, how common it is to meet a self-described “masc4masc” who is definitively effeminate as hell. It’s a strange irony that the more one tries to de-fag one’s self, the more one finds one’s self sinking in a pool of glittery, rainbow-coloured quicksand.
If you honestly believe you are breaking the effeminate stereotype, you shouldn’t feel any need to tell me (or yourself) about it.
Just a couple more announcements regarding ongoing G3S projects. The first is G3S celebrating 200+ followers! Wow! Thank you all so much for your support. As we continue to grow the community and reach out to other organizations, Fish and I are always looking for more collaborators. If you’d like to help out and be more involved within the community, consider being a guest mod for a week! If you are interested, feel free to leave us a message on Tumblr or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, I know we’ve been quiet about the video chat platform testing but we’re happy to announce that we’re bringing back Tinychats with regular, biweekly programming! Despite its connectivity issues, Tinychat offers an anonymity feature that our community members value with no limit on the number of people that can participate in the chat. We plan to start up the tinychats tomorrow, Saturday April 23rd, 9pm EDT so we hope to see many of you there! (And I hear there might be a drinking game involved….. =P)
Finally, if you haven’t signed up to be a G3S Mentor, we encourage you to do so and sign up here! One comment Fish and I hear a lot is that people feel they “don’t have everything figured out” to be an adequate mentor. But we’d like to remind everyone that being a good mentor just means being a good friend, a reliable and welcoming figure in the community.
And that’s about it for this G3S update post. Hope to see you all at the tinychat tomorrow!
-Jeffrey and Fish
Ahhhh sorry for the delay everyone! You can find the link to the Tinychat here.