I think it is important to take a moment to address the issues of mental health and burnout. Recently, I learned of a medical student who succumbed to the effects of depression. They left this world far too soon.
In many studies, stress and burnout occur in the medical field at rate disproportionate to the general population. The high demands and constant stressors coupled with the standards and responsibilities we put on ourselves puts individuals at risk of emotional and mental health problems. It is important to recognize that we are not alone in this and there is help available to us.
Remember to take a moment. Find time to catch up on sleep. Talk to someone. Remember it is okay to make mistakes. Believe in yourself.
I would encourage anyone who is struggling with distress or burnout or who knows someone who is, to reach out and find help and support. There are always people willing to listen, through your family and friends, or through the faculty and staff.
My sincerest condolences to those affected by this tragic loss.
Never forget about taking time out of your day to day to care for your mental wellness.
A close friend recently confided in me that he’d tested positive for HIV.
His partner doesn’t know.
We strategized ways for him to get his partner tested, without explicitly telling the partner that my friend is positive. My friend doesn’t want his reputation ruined if the bf finds out. My friend is afraid the bf might tell mutual friends and eventually the whole gay community in his city.
My friend wound up with the scenario of telling the bf that he’d received an anonymous call about one of his past partners testing positive, so they should both go get tested.
The bf went to his doctor for a test, but the doctor said that since he’d tested recently and came back negative, he should wait another 6 months to get tested again. My friend didn’t take the test, of course, cause he already knows he’s positive.
So I don’t know. Is it my legal and moral responsibility to tell the bf that my friend is positive? If I do, my friend will probably not want to talk to me for a long time.
They’ve since been having protected sex, and of course the bf has been asking questions. But my friend just makes excuses for wanting to use protection.
I’ve been putting the heat on my friend to make his bf get tested, and part of me is frustrated with how idiotic and unsafe my friend is being for not wanting to reveal his status to his bf all for the sake of keeping reputation.
He says he fears the stigma of a poz person, and I understand–I can’t relate–but I understand where he’s coming from. Still, if you care for someone and you’re in a romantic relationship with them, reputation be damned.
Lots of my friends have been having relationship dramas lately.
2 of them involve dating married men. Will post next time on them.
Quite the moral dilemma posed by @thisisnotwriting. While the stigma against HIV-positive individuals is nothing to laugh about (something we as a community should be more mindful of), I believe that not disclosing your status to your significant other is extremely reckless. And if you’re afraid that by telling your significant other, you’ll endanger your reputation, I think you have to ask yourself how much your significant other cares and respects you. A responsible and mature individual would treat this information with the utmost discretion and appreciate the honesty.
How would you react in this situation?
i wish more doctors were sensitive to the health needs of lgbt folks, especially men who have sex with men. whenever i went to go get tested, i always wondered why they only gave urine testing for chlamydia/gonorrhea screening especially if i already mentioned to them that i have sex with guys. chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacteria that latch only onto the areas where they make contact. since i’ve been more receptive in sex lately and orally inclined, the only sort of infection i would have gotten would be either pharyngeal or rectal. yet, the urine test that they love to give only test for urethral infections (because it assumes that men don’t get fucked–completely heteronormative).
i honestly blame society for not being sex positive to provide not only effective but also appropriate tests for people. had the doctor been more interested in discussing my sex preferences in addition to simply asking whom i have sex with, then maybe i would feel in safer hands. but luckily, i’ve come to realize this about sti screenings to know what i need whenever i visit my care provider. it’s a shame that the sex education curriculum in this country is horrible because how do we guarantee that people get the services that they need when some doctors and most patients are ignorant of the methods to test for what they’re looking?
In honor of @alostfish, who has taken a temporary hiatus from G3S while back in med school, the theme of this week’s posts will look at LGBT health issues. Here @nelljohn discusses the limitations of health professionals unfamiliar with LGBT lifestyles as well as the lack of resources for LGBT individuals to educate themselves on their health needs.
This week’s M&M features Thai transgender singer Gene Kasidit.
Gene is an emerging fashionista and culture provocateur in the indie Thai music scene. Widely popular among the counter-culture socialites of cosmopolitan Bangkok she has found fame through her music and art. Gene styles herself as an electro-pop diva who seeks to examine different aspect of Thai culture through her self expression which can at times be shocking to traditional Thai values. She also raises awareness for other Thai transgender individuals who have a tenuous relationship with Thai society where they are often tolerated but not accepted.
Gene’s featured song เก็บคำว่ารัก (English title: ONS – One Night Stand) according to her is about the pursuit of trying to find the right guy in an often chaotic and fast paced world. She sings about how the love we want may not be the love we find but that we must accept things as they are and keep moving on.
“Love is like high heels. You can find the most beautiful pair but it may hurt if you wear it. Find a comfortable pair.” – Gene Kasidit
I sat at the kitchen table pouring, scooping, and eating my 4-in-the-afternoon breakfast, and my mom stood at the kitchen counter, mixing ingredients for her almond cake batter when she told me a story about her brother-in-law from Georgia, who fled Vietnam by sea after the war and nearly lost his wife when she fell overboard and sank into the ocean, and with no one anywhere knowing how to swim, all they could do was sit and pray, even the brother-in-law who was not at all religious. The wife, submerged in the water (how deep my mom didn’t say), grabbed something, not sure what, that floated her back to the surface, where she grabbed a lifeline and they pulled her back up to safety, and later on when they all reached the States, the brother-in-law, convinced that an angel pulled his wife to the surface, converted to “baptism” (my mom, who is no pro at religions, was a little confused here, as she tried to tell me that the sister-in-law who told her this story said that it was not Christianity or Catholicism or Buddhism but it was “baptism,” and I tried to tell her baptism was “the thing where you get water sprayed on your face” and that maybe her sister-in-law meant that her brother became a baptist kind of Christian, though I didn’t really know the differences between all the denominations).
The brother-in-law went on to get his Masters in “something with religion” and went on to become a reverend, and with his wife they raised a very religious family of three children, the oldest son eventually graduating from Harvard with a medical degree, becoming a doctor, then a med school professor, so basically he was the god-sent dream child that all converted refugee parents prayed for, except for the part where, all throughout his childhood, his relatives would try to tell his parents that their dream child was–my mom pauses her story as if she was worried she could get in trouble for saying the word–gay, because he “wasn’t like you Brian” (the only time my mom addressed me while telling the story), but he liked to play with dollies and sew them dresses and he always had a rather “feminine” look. The brother-in-law and his wife denied it for years, years which culminated when the wife made a surprise visit to her son at college, only to discover him in bed with another man, and then some time passed, during which my mom wasn’t too clear on what happened–maybe more denying–and then he became that god-sent dream doctor and med school professor when the brother-in-law, for whom “baptism” and same-sex attraction didn’t mix well, finally gave his gay kid an ultimatum: change it, or no longer be my son, and, as my mom said, “well you can’t change it,” so now the son is an estranged son living in Chicago, the brother-in-law’s wife later died of a stroke, and the brother-in-law, with his two other kids moved out, lives alone. He is still a reverend.
I always wonder what my mom is trying to tell me or what she hopes for when she very intentionally relates stories involving anyone gay (the last time she did this she told me about a famous Vietnamese pop star somewhere in our distant family who “everyone knows is gay but he still denies it”). I enjoy listening to her stories, and I wish she would tell me more, but underneath her stories she communicates a lot of unspoken words that I can never hear.
Something I wrote for the most recent issue of Non Song. Intersections between being Vietnamese-American, second generation, and gay. Enjoy!
Picture Son: How to Love Yourself and Your Gay Vietnamese Children
By Trung Nguyen
I kept watch at the mailbox every day for the first two weeks of May during my Senior year of high school, memorizing the exact window of time the mail carrier approached our home. He would come between three to four in the afternoon, right when I got out of school. I would rush home at a frenetic pace, keeping an anxious eye out for his white truck and blue uniform, a feverish prayer on the tip of my tongue that I wouldn’t miss him. On the days I managed to bolt home before he arrived, I would wait from my living room with a view of our front yard, straining to identify the envelopes and packages that he would unload from his satchel.
I was on the look out for any oversized envelope, larger than most letters with the dimensions of a manila folder but slender enough to fold to the curved half-circle of our mailbox. Each time that the envelope didn’t arrive, I could breathe for a second, being relieved for the day. But it wasn’t for long – I mentally prepped myself for the next day of waiting and anxiety. It had to come soon. And I had to get it before anybody in the family did.
I wasn’t out to my family. Inside the package would be our prom pictures: my then boyfriend and I, two boys, hands clasped and suits matching. My parents wouldn’t be ready to see this picture, especially because one of them was their only son.
My patience paid off. A day later, the photos arrived and I let myself melt after secretly peering into the envelope. When I looked at our photos, all of the anxiety and fear was worth it. I kept them hidden in my room most of the time, only bringing it out whenever I was feeling particularly lonely or needed something to cheer me up.
One day, I got a call from my mom while I was out. “I cleaned your room today. I just wanted to let you know.” Searching for a reason why she would call me for something so simple, I thanked her and let her know I’d be home for dinner.
The realization only came later. My heart stopped. I forgot to put away our prom pictures. I rushed back home.
I was my parents’ many firsts. I was their first born (and only) son, the first to be surrounded by an entire family who had spent the last twenty years resettling from Vietnam, the first to graduate high school with a 4.0, and the first to go to a UC school – these were some of the highlights of many other firsts.
While more these firsts than I could count were met with anticipation and celebratory welcoming than with unease and tension, my parents never expected that I would also be their first gay child.
I grew up in East Side San Jose, an immense Vietnamese-American enclave and Southeast Asian refugee haven. It was nearly impossible to be alone as a child: our entire extended family lived within three blocks of one another, my schools offered Vietnamese bilingual education, and my friends didn’t question why I brought out fish sauce instead of soy sauce to the dinner table. I had a strong sense of my history and my heritage. Yet despite being affirmed in my Vietnamese identity, I couldn’t shake off a chronic sense of immense loneliness and crippling fear I had growing up. It was a fear I couldn’t escape, one that I was reminded about day to day: the fear of being who I was and loving who I wanted to love. It was paralyzing.
This same fear propelled me home the night my mom called me. Would my key work or would the locks be changed? If I had five minutes to stuff my belongings into a bag, what would I take? How much of a physical or emotional beating could I take before I made a run back out the door?
I was terrified – mostly, of losing my family. I lingered on the sidewalk of my house, carefully observing the lights in every room, as if staring at the flickering yellow glow would magically show me what everyone was doing. I talked to my then boyfriend and made back-up plan after back-up plan in case I would get kicked out. After assuring me a warm place to sleep and food to eat, I worked up the courage to enter the house.
My keys worked. I stepped inside. It was quiet. My mom was watching TV with my dad. I snuck my way past them, still fearful. As I entered my room, I couldn’t have prepared myself for what I saw.
At the front of my desk was my prom picture, neatly framed in new black wood.
We don’t speak of it much but small actions have liberated me over the years. They no longer bother me about girlfriends. They invite my “friend” over for family celebrations. They leave out two plates for breakfast when my boyfriend stays for the night. In the process of letting go of fear and allowing myself to love without fear of losing my family, I have become an active member of both the Vietnamese and LGBT community, working with youth and advocating for a stronger future. I would have never done any of this had I continued to live in fear.
Like many Vietnamese families, there wasn’t much my family could offer by way of support, but what they did have was their love. But this was all I could have asked for and this is what I ask of all my readers: continue loving your sons, daughters, little brothers and sisters even if they love somebody of the same sex. You have the power to transform and empower a life and I urge you to use it for the better.
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 @clinth.
Who are you?
hm, my name is Clinton. I’m 23, gay, and Chinese American.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Chicago, before moving to Ann Arbor where I studied at the University of Michigan.
I moved back to Chicago shortly after graduating.
What do you do?
I am currently a barista at Starbucks. On my days off, I am usually hanging out with friends or spending time with my mom.
What are you passionate about?
I studied political science as an undergraduate, but I also care deeply about improving mental health and anxiety-related disorders.
I am also an avid fan of tennis.
What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?
I’ve always wanted to be an attorney, but really, I’d be happy doing anything where I can help those that need it the most.
If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?
Live compassionately and intentionally.