When people talk about soulmates, I always remember this scene from Sex and the City. To me, a soulmate is more than a lover. A soulmate is someone who shares a common thread with you, someone who knows your thoughts before you even utter them, someone who can pick up the conversation with you even if it was weeks or months ago that you last saw each other. My friends are my soulmates.
I’ve always been a wandering spirit. It can often be difficult to cultivate lasting friendships when permanency is your achilles heel. I’m grateful to have a few very close friends in my life. They’re the ones that keep me grounded and often times, sane. They may not always understand the choices I make, but they respect me enough to allow me to make those choices and are ready to pick me up if those choices turn out to be the wrong ones. A boy could not ask for anything more.
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 @d-rklaw.
Who are you?
26 years young
Australian/Indonesian/Chinese – whichever is most convenient at the time
Where are you from?
I was born in Sydney, Australia but was raised in Brisbane but somehow fortunately ended up working in Sydney again. Hopefully I get to live in a few other cities before “settling down”.
What do you do?
I’ve been working as a doctor for 4 years and am currently undergoing physician training (with much suffering) in the hope that I’ll make it through all the exams and end up as a medical oncologist some years down the track. For some reason patients with cancer have always interested me more than any other speciality – morbid I know, but it’s not all doom and gloom!
What are you passionate about?
I’m guilty of being a massive foodie – not even my studies have been able to pull me away from regularly enjoying a decent meal out! Sydney is filled to the brim with great places to eat for brunch, dinner and dessert in any type of cuisine you can possibly imagine. Just pm me if you want any suggestions!
I’m also a music fanatic, I don’t think I’d be able to survive without it! I listen to just about anything (including KPop) and also play piano and sing – I’ve performed at quite a few of my friends weddings in various countries around the world, it’s such an honour to be able to contribute to their special day! The worst part is when the piano faces the front of the hall and you miss seeing the bride walk down the aisle…
What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?
Food critic / travel blogger / KPopstar
If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?
Live life and try not to hurt anyone!
I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but could never think of something of enough personal importance to merit a permanent mark on my body. So instead, I’ve taken to admiring other people’s tattoos in the hopes that maybe their stories and ideas will fuel some inspiration–not to mention guys with tattoos are kinda hot. Granted, the design and location of the tattoo can make or break that rule, but generally some visible ink on an arm or wrist is a plus in my book. So I had no hesitation saying yes to coffee with a new, tatted acquaintance. After going through the usual scripted small talk, I was asked that inevitable, deal breaking question.
“So, what are you looking for?”
Of course, what he really meant to ask was, “So, what are my prospects with you?” Per my New Year’s Resolutions post, they’re not so great, buddy.
I told him I wasn’t really looking for anything at the moment, hoping my tone was dismissive enough to extinguish any other burning inquiries into my personal life that he might have had. But what he asked next caught me off guard.
“Okay, so then…what are you looking forward to if romance isn’t in the picture?”
Reflexively, I took offense to the question. Excuse you, but there are plenty of things I’m looking forward to: traveling to HK and Singapore in a couple of months, seeing my family in the fall, getting my CNSC, ending this meet-up-turned-interrogation and getting the hell out of this stank ass coffee shop and away from you, the list could go on.
I have a knack for hurting people’s feelings, so we ended our chat cordially and parted ways before things boiled over. On the walk back to my apartment though, I couldn’t help but wonder: What am I looking forward to? Not just in the immediate future, but ten, thirty, fifty years down the road?
This was a question I had tried to tackle before, with close friends and innocent coffee shop strangers alike. If my parents weren’t so awkward over the fact that they have a gay son, I’d probably discuss it with them, too. (Come on guys, you’ve known for almost 8 years now. Get over it.) But I suppose I never really thought about it much until recently. After a pretty sour year of dating, romance was off the table for a while, that was for sure. I’m not exactly the most nurturing of guys, so children were never a serious consideration. And don’t even get me started with pets. So what was left?
Naturally, this train of thought led to some grim existential questions. Would I be alone forever? Would I die alone? Or perhaps more unsettling: is it okay to die alone? Though I’m privileged to live in an era of unprecedented progression, I feel like society is still leashed by the trappings of monogamy, traditional marriage, and childbearing. That’s not to say that any of those aspirations are a waste of time, but I don’t think they’re necessarily right for everyone (read: stony, selfish me). Still, a more conservative part of me wonders if there’s something wrong with my life’s current trajectory, one that doesn’t involve a diamond anniversary or a legacy that can be inherited by my grandchildren. In being comfortable with my solitude, do I in turn lose my dignity?
Like always, I shrug off the sinking feeling. Twenty-three is an awfully young age to contemplate the futility of a life unshaped by companionship or offspring, let alone to decide that dying alone is even a possibility. A thought for another time, I tell myself. So instead I find shelter in other subjects–the day’s to-do list, my loud neighbors downstairs, tonight’s dinner–and move on with my life. I turn the key to enter my empty apartment, let out a deep sigh, and close the door behind me.
Maybe I should finally get that tattoo I’ve always wanted. Across my chest, over my heart, perhaps.
Break only in case of emergency.
The craziest thing to me is how undeniably popular black men seem to be, but when you look at the most popular pornstars list…it’s almost like they don’t exist. Also, is it just me, or do the most stereotypically racist parts of this county love big black dick more than anything else ☕️🐸
Edit: Actually, my observation was showing a certain bias that I hadn’t even considered. I made the mistake of assuming that all the people that did these searches were white. That was obviously a mistake. The South has a high black population that could easily affect the results of this. Likewise, the proximity of Mexico to the southwest US could also play a role in the high amount of Latino searches. (Also the proximity of Hawaii to Japan?) So yeah, I guess I was a little quick to jump to a conclusion.
This is a fascinating set of race/sex/commodity/fantasy/desire data going on here. I’m going to bracket the data collection method questions, which would inform any argument or conclusion we could make, but there would be no time to figure those questions out now in the scope of this tumblr post – nonetheless, those method questions might be: how are searches logged? How was data collected/compiled? How is an instance measured (ie will one IP which searches for a certain term an obscene number of times in a short duration significantly impact the data)? Also going to bracket audience questions, since this measures only PornHub users (I think data might be different if it can be compiled from MyVidster).
The above commenter (@wittymoniker) made a great observation about the misalignment between the most visited categories (clearly racialized) vs. porn star searches, that I think deserves some more conversation. An initial, un-researched response to this observation is that there could be an argument made here about the structural conditions in which the virtuosity/auteur function of the white performer – which sustains that performer’s career for longer than another kind of performer – accumulates more capital than the limited virtuosity of the black performer. If we attach any kind of meaning or indication of virtuosity (meaning the singular transcendent skill of a performer – which itself is historical/structural) to the frequency of hits under the category “Most Popular Gay Pornstars”, this, I think, discloses something about the historical/structural conditions in which the black performer is marked precisely by his disposability. What is consumed and (framed as) virtuosic about the white performer exceeds merely his material parts (his cock, his ass, his frame, his fluids, etc) – this is where I would venture into the wish-fulfillment/sexual desire management that his surplus subjectivity (esp. if he performs those additional subject positions on top of his whiteness ie twink, bear, jock, etc., many of which are not so available to other racialized performers) can distinctly fulfill as a white performer.
The limited virtuosic function of the black performer, when there is clearly an audience for it (as demonstrated by “Black” as the most popular category, especially in states with a particularly high viewer proportionality), might suggest that black performers are consumed (and very importantly produced by the studio) less as individual genius but rather for his fungible and exchangable body as a set of parts. See that “big black dick” exceeds “black” under popular searches and both refer to parts of the body in contrast to the qualitative categories that populate other searches (ie: straight, college roommates, twink, etc.)
Although the qualitative and subject-oriented categories of straight, college roommates, twink, and so on are not mutually exclusive with the category of black (”black daddy” might be a possible example here), that the black performer both does not appear to link to a commensurable porn star search impact (as other data sets appear to do with “black” being a widely viewed category, “big black dick” as a widely searched term) I think discloses something about the black performer as disposable in the way that the white performer is not. For the black performer, he can be made to accrue capital primarily as body part (since he is consumed as body part – especially since the black performer which does make the popular star list, Castro Supreme, the marketing strategy is specifically about his cock) and not as a subject the same way a white performer (especially conferred the status as “porn star”) would be. In this way, the black performer is disposable in that he can be paid less (vs what one conferred, produced as, or consumed as porn star would make) and is exchangable with other black performers.
As for the original comment’s edit which presents a model of causal racial consumption (in which race might determine the habits of consumption), I would say that even if that might be observed, it wouldn’t provide much insight on how to read the popular pornstars list, since we might assume that the black porn star would be proportionally higher if that were the case.
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.
This is such an inspirational story of support from @r3fugitiv3. Thank you for sharing this amazing story.
Sometimes you meet someone whose hand fits perfectly in yours. Sometimes you meet someone who’s back curves right into your chest, his shoulder blades rising synchronously with your breath. Sometimes you meet someone whose jokes are so ridiculously stupid that you can’t help but laugh. Sometimes you meet someone while you’re traveling that makes you want to stay in that town a little bit longer; maybe even forever.
Sometimes you meet someone who complements you so perfectly that you force yourself to ignore the wedding ring on his left hand and stupidly let yourself fall into a confused fantasy. You think it’s just for fun, that his open relationship does not concern you, that for this brief moment you are immune to emotional ramifications because you are just a traveler, a visitor in this person’s life.
You spend an entire weekend together. Frolicking in the park, shopping in the town square, holding hands like two lovesick teenagers. You’ve only experienced this much joy a handful of moments before, and being with this new person, this stranger really, makes you feel invincible. You both make plans for a future that will never come. He wants to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. You want to go on an Antarctic exploration. He wants 4 kids. You want to hire a nanny. It’s fun. It’s exciting. You forget to take deep breaths.
And then it happens.
You’re standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus that will take him away. Back to his life in the suburbs. To his other life with a partner who lives thousands of miles away. He’s running late for their nightly Skype session. You hold his hand, slowly drawing hearts in his palm with your finger. The bus arrives. You feel him grip your hand a little tighter. He smiles at you and says, “there’ll be another bus”.
As I am about to travel to a city I have never been to this weekend, this post seems very appropriate.