Follower Friday: ducks-smoke-quack

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 @ducks-smoke-quack.

Who are you?

Hello! I am Karl, a 22 year old Taiwanese Canadian.


Where are you from?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, where I spent the first ten years of my life. Then my whole family moved to Vancouver when in 2004.

What do you do?

Currently a student studying Marketing Communications at BCIT.
I also enjoy volunteering at many different places 😀

What are you passionate about?

What am I really passionate about? Spreading love.

In my spare time, I volunteer in youth education. During one particular field trip, I took my kids to a McDonald’s for lunch. On our way in, we walked past a homeless man who was sitting outside in the bitter cold. His requests for us to spare him some change went largely ignored as we filed in to fill our empty stomachs.

After my kids finally settled down and were happily munching away on their lunches, I went and bought my own food but instead of buying one meal, I bought two: one for myself and another for the the man sitting outside.

The kids watched awestruck as a seemingly normal and respectable person shared a meal with a homeless man who, by the definition of everyone’s parents, were supposedly the lazy degenerates of society.

When I returned back to the table, the kids and I had a lengthy conversation about my actions, why to withhold judgement on others, and the importance of being compassionate and empathetic. Although they weren’t given the opportunity to learn these concepts at home or in school, many of these ideas were foreign to them which they seemed eager to learn more about.

By doing what I do, I hope to pass on some of my beliefs to the next generation. Although not everyone shares my beliefs and I’m by no means a perfect person, I have yet to see some things like mindfulness and compassion ever hurt anyone. I truly believe that we have “succeeded” as people if when we leave this world, we left it a little better than when we first found it.

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

Ideally, one day I’d like to get into video creation/production. This ties back to the previous question – I feel that the best way to spread love and influence people is through videos.

So I guess something like BuzzFeed but more philanthropy focused.

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

I would change it so that orange Cheetos can’t become the ruler of the most powerful country in the world.

Almost lover

lustforthoughts:

“Hey,” he greeted, “how’ve you been?”
I extended my hand but he stretched his arms forward for a hug. His touch, though faint, muted my senses. He housed a familiar scent, a blend of crisp mint and lilac that clouded my racing thoughts.

It had been three years. My last image of him? A tall, thin pharmacist-in-training with crescent dimples. He wore a soft jawline that hid below his firm, tan cheeks. His voice, acquainted with the breeze, was as swift as his smile. He had not changed much–he wore a plain shirt that outlined his handsome figure. The color in his eyes, though, had faded. They felt like strangers.

I followed him to the cafe patio, armored with my tainted tank top and jeans from college. My foot steps were heavy; and my hands were wrestling with air. We sat ourselves down to a view of a swaying palm trees and clouds. Silence ensued.

“So I hear you’re a teacher now?” he asked.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold back my emotions.

“Why did you let us go? I loved you. And I hate that I still do.” My thoughts caved into his dimming eyes. Our memories, encapsulated by tears, begged for an escape. He froze–and fought against the currents of my nostalgia.

I tried again: “I miss you.”

“I was so damn good to you,” he whispered, “maybe it was too late. Maybe I was exhausted. Maybe I was weak. But you know what? I fought for us. And I cried for you every night after you left me. Your love… was selfish.”

I dashed out into the street. He followed from behind. “Your love was selfish,” I rewinded in my head. Then, I felt the warmth of his hand on my shoulder.

“Just tell me,” I demanded, “Do you still love me?” His touch shivered. Finger by finger, he began releasing his grip–untangling its warmth. I felt my body detaching from his familiarity. My senses began crawling towards reality. He walked away.

“Your love was selfish,” I rewinded one last time.

how do you decide when to break up?

I do not think that there is an easy answer to this
question. Before attempting to provide one, I think it is important to
highlight the two ideas contained in the prompt. First, why is it okay to break up with someone. Second, at what time is it okay to break up with
someone. I believe that one may reach a satisfactory answer – or as close as is
likely possible – by attempting to resolve those reasons and doing so at an
appropriate time.

I must further preface my comments by presuming that one
reads this advice out of good faith and not because you have found someone new
on Tinder, you are cheating on them and can no longer bear the guilt, or you want
to get back with your ex.

Reasons

It would be impossible to address the numerous reasons
why someone would want to end a relationship and cast judgment as to whether
they are good or not. However, before throwing in the towel, I think it is
absolutely critical that one put in a genuine effort to resolve the problem. Feel
like there are no shared interests? Suggest some new activities to try on a
weekend or create an alternating schedule of things to do. Think that they have
some annoying habits? Discuss how it makes you feel and work with them to try
and reduce their frequency. Wish they would support you more? Talk about how
their opinions are important to you and how you want a bit more encouragement.

After having a genuine discussion, it is then critical to
realize two things. First, people do not change overnight. If their annoying
habit is that they do not throw their laundry in the hamper, I suspect it would
be an overreaction to storm out of the house with a packed suitcase later that
night after discovering a sock on the bathroom floor. I think it would be
helpful to see change as a process rather than being like flipping a switch.
Assume they care about changing and just need gentle reminders.

Despite this, I will readily admit that some things do
not or cannot change. A serial cheater is not likely to realize the error of
their ways after you catch them for the fifth time. Similarly, people may be
set in their life goals and unwilling to give up their dream of touring the
world – career be damned – while you work your way up the corporate ladder in
New York City. In this latter case, irreconcilable differences and divergent
needs do not necessarily make one party or the other bad people. It is just
something that happens. Your lives intersected at one point and now they no
longer do through no fault of anyone.

Timing

I have encountered a surprising number of people who seem
to exercise terrible judgment as to when it is appropriate to break up. Unless
you are in an abusive relationship or some other similarly dire situation,
announcing your newfound singleness on an anniversary, after their parents have
died, during finals week, or while they are looking for a new job is not a good idea. A breakup could be one
of the worst things to ever happen to a person and it seems to be incredibly
self-centered to relieve your own feelings without regard for what stresses the
other person is going through at the time.

Having said that, I will also concede that there is never
a “good” time to break up with someone. As I said earlier, a breakup could be
one of the worst things to ever happen to a person. However, the reasons that
make you feel as though a breakup is the best choice are not likely to vanish
with time. Part of being an adult is having to make painful choices. You do not
want to be like one man I met who stayed in a four-year relationship with his
boyfriend – even though he wanted to break up with him after the first semester
– because he could never find a “good” time to do so.

When do you decide to break up? Have you made an honest
attempt to resolve whatever problems you think are causing you to want to break
up? Are you following through with your decision at a time when they are not
under any unusual stress? If you can answer the second and third questions in
the affirmative, then I think you will find that the answer to the first
question will be about as good as it is possible to be.

Astringent

darjeelingxhoney:

I don’t want to forget you and the way your whispers at
night kept us awake until morning. That was when we first started dating. Those
were beautiful mornings.

We floated on sleep deprivation and stories from our
childhoods, the occasional peal of laughter rippling through the stillness of
dawn. I didn’t mind when you robbed us of sleep because you gave something to
me, to our little world, that I still hold precious. Your layers, your
vulnerabilities, your hopes and dreams and the multifaceted, hypocritical, delightful,
explosive surface of your being that would shine in the early light. Rays cast
through the dusty blinds would illuminate your face. What a precious thing that
was. To see your smile and your futile suppression of your amusement at
whatever embarrassing tales we happened to recount.

It’s harder to remember those mornings now. As I sit here
typing this story, swirling lukewarm tea, those memories have constricted like my
taste buds when I touch lips to my mug. Astringent.

When you left me, no one gave me a guidebook on how these
things were supposed to unfold. Or rather, unravel. No, too neat. Erode. Memory
and time, time and memory. It all collects like the leaves and fragments at the
bottom of my mug. To be poured down the drain. Eventually forgotten and
disposed.

Your whispers are but an occasional hum I hear throughout
the day. Sometimes welcome, other times an annoyance, I struggle to clearly
listen. Bits and pieces are all I’m left with. Your laugh, I remember. I recall
stories you told. That time you engaged in a dance-off at a birthday party and the
first moments you knew you were gay. Bits and pieces and I collect them all. Together,
they barely fill the time between lights off and slumber.

AskG3S #2: Mending a Broken Heart

AskG3S, a.k.a. our G3S Writer’s Roundtable, is a discussion forum and advice column gathering the wisdom of some of Tumblr’s best API LGBT writers. If you have any questions about relationships, dating, sex, coming out, family issues, or anything you would like some advice on, send an ask to the G3S Writer’s Roundtable tab on our home page. We also welcome any suggestions for discussion topics. This month on AskG3S, the topic is heartbreak.


Q: If it takes ‘x’ amount of weeks to heal from a broken bone, how long does it take to heal from a broken heart and conversely, how long do you think the average is to fall in love? How fast is too fast? Granted, this will vary depending on the person and situation, but can these ideas even be quantified?

A: By @ox-85,

Falling in love can never been too quick or too slow, all it can be is right for both of you. I didn’t know when I fell in love with my boyfriend, but now that I look back at the 3+ years, I can tell you that I started loving him from day one. That love grew stronger as our relationship grew closer, and that I still am falling in love with him to this day. I think the subquestion being asked is: at what point in time do you know that this is the love that will last? There’s a component to the answer that relies on the complete and open trust you have between each other. Can the both of you truthfully answer each other’s love without questioning if the other person isn’t being honest? I think there’s a clearer answer when you ask and answer with full honesty (which may be unrealistic). As we plan our future together, I am now more open to voicing my concerns and insecurities. This has helped us work through our problems and create a more loving relationship.

According to a quick google search, research has found it takes 11 weeks to mend a broken heart. That’s basically 3 months of taking the time to begin mending a broken heart. If there exists a set time for a broken heart to mend, then I think it truly depends on the depth and level of the relationship you had with the other person. Truthfully, I don’t think we ever are free of our past relationships. They remain in your subconscious, reminding you of your past mistakes and successes – allowing you to grow and mature. A broken heart never mends, rather, it becomes a pain that becomes more distant over time. Even as the one who broke my ex’s heart, I too struggled with my actions, words, and our eventual demise. Some part of me fell out of love with him early on, but I persisted because I thought we could fix things. His tears and words will forever be with me, reminding me of my own broken heart, my regrets, and how cruel I could be.

Basically, these things are both quantifiable and not quantifiable. It could be that only with time and reflection are you able to figure it all out.

By @tritaniumwhite,

I’ve fallen in love with someone I’ve met in one day.  I’ve fallen in love with someone I’ve known for one month. I’ve fallen in love with someone I’ve been with for year. It depends on what you believe is “love” and what you hold dear. It is your definition and do not let anyone tell you otherwise or impose their rigid qualifications to that word. Your definition of love will grow as you explore and develop your emotional maturity. Do what you think and believe is right, but also attend to the wisdom of others because they offer a perspective that you might be missing.

It takes 6 weeks for a bone fracture to heal. It varies with age, conditions and general health, of course, but 6 weeks after my surgery, my arm was finally off its medical probation. But just because I was off the sling doesn’t mean that healing was over. In the biology of fracture healing, it actually takes many months and years before it’s good as new again, in a process called remodeling. For me, that’s akin to the healing after a heartbreak. It may take you up to 6 weeks before you feel ready again, but it could take you much longer to fully assess and process the consequences and side effects of a lost relationship. Just like your body’s ability to heal from physical trauma, the same thing is true for emotional heartache; it varies, and it’s okay to takes a few weeks to grief and it’s okay to takes longer.

By @medicasian,

A typical mid-shaft humeral fracture takes between 8 to 14 weeks to heal. What this entails is the activity of cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts breaking down and re-building bone in a painful process that results in bone that is less sturdy than its predecessor. Depending on the way the bone is fractured – whether it is comminuted into many pieces, rotated and displaced from its attaching piece – the fracture can take longer to heal, and in some cases never heal: non-union. If you destabilize the bone too early and remove it from its cast, bone healing also gets disrupted. The body must be optimized to allow for good bone healing – and even then, there is no guarantee that the bone will return to its former glory.

Nevertheless, some people defy the confines of their physiology. Some play through the sports season with a broken bone, only to find out months to years later that something was broken in the first place. Others have severe pain that limits all activity, and take anywhere from months to long term disability away from work. Why do I elaborate so much on bones? I feel that the situation of a broken heart is parallel: unpredictable outcomes with even less objective data. Depending on how the heart is broken, some people will never heal and others never even realize that there was damage at all.

I have been in a handful of relationships, and each time that my heart was broken, the time to recovery has been different. My longest relationship, which ended with my partner’s infidelity, shattered my heart into an uncountable number of pieces. Still, to this day over two years later, I come upon pieces that I achingly stitch back together. On other occasions, I have had some relationships, which washed over me like rain water – soaked and damp for a few hours, and then soon forgotten,  with the anticipation of the next sunny day. In order to come back to the question originally posed, I do not think I can give a discrete number for other people; for myself, on average, I would quote similar statistics to a broken bone: 8 to 14 weeks from standard heart break with considerable variability.

As for the question about falling in love, this is an equally challenging question to answer. What is love? If I define love as an irrational feeling that puts the needs of others over the needs of the self, I would say that it takes a long time – on the spectrum of months to years. Infatuation is quick, lust is quick, passion is quick – but the selflessness of putting someone else’s needs and thoughts above one’s own takes time to develop and incubate. It cannot be achieved quickly, even if one desires it to. Love itself lays on a spectrum, and makes it even more challenging to quantify. Speaking to my own experience, I think I have only really fallen in love once, and it was something I did not recognize until about two years into my relationship, and was something that may have been latently present for one year.

To those who look for numbers to soothe their anxieties of heart break or of falling in love too quickly, know that there are no clinical prediction tools to know what your outcome will be. There is no way to say what is too quick or too slow, but you should listen to your body and what your heart tells you. Like bone healing, heart break does take energy, mental fortitude, and nutrition. We can try to make wise choices to mitigate our risks, but when love is found, it acts irrationally with frequent ups and downs. Do not fear love or heartbreak, but embrace it and use it to grow.

Vietnam’s Gay Scene

themannifesto:

Vietnam’s gay scenes may be lacking in nightlife, but as David Mann reports, things are (slowly) changing for the better.

It’s Saturday night and the boys are ready to hit the town. Binh, 25, is a personal trainer, Alex, 23, is a mixed-race marketing executive and Duong, 26, is a successful Viet Kieu entrepreneur.

Our destination is the suggestively named Golden Cock “G.C” Bar. It lays claim to being the oldest gay bar in Vietnam. It’s also the only gay bar in Hanoi. Just steps from Hoan Kiem Lake, G.C. Bar is pretty much empty during the week except for two hours each Saturday night, when it’s packed to the rafters with gentlemen seeking the company of other gentlemen.

Gay rights supporters cycle through Hanoi as part of the city’s annual Viet Pride festival. 

Inside we join a scrum of sweaty bodies waiting in line for drinks as Kesha’s We R Who We R blares on the speakers. The bar occupies the first floor of a traditional Hanoi tube house: long and narrow, with no dance floor and a lone pool table.

After collecting our reasonably priced G&Ts, the boys and I head to a corner where we can safely peruse the local talent. “Do any of these look familiar?” I ask watching Binh’s eyes scan the room, which is filled predominately with locals and a handful of expats.

“Yeah, most of them I’ve seen before, either here or on Grindr,” he says, referring to the popular gay dating app. “But I prefer to go out. I like meeting guys in person and talking with them out in the open — this is really the only place to do that.”

Soon enough, it’s standing only as more boys pack into the already crammed bar to navigate the safari of twinks, muscle Marys and the odd bear. No dancing, though, which is immensely frustrating given the music is perhaps the most, ahem, fabulous in all of Hanoi.

But then at 12am the curfew hits, the lights come on and the bar closes. Some pack into cabs bound for all-night bars, the rest hop on their motorcycles and head home.

Hanoi’s Emerging Scene

Coming from Sydney, widely considered one of the great gay capitals of the world, I initially found myself disappointed with the absence of a vibrant gay scene in Hanoi. Back home, my Saturday nights were happily spent bouncing between the half-a-dozen or so gay bars on Sydney’s iconic Oxford Street.

Indeed, the more time I spent in Hanoi, the more I realised that Vietnam’s conservative social mores had resulted in same-sex people fraternising mostly behind closed doors, rather than out in the open, in the kinds of bars and trendy gaybourhoods that I was accustomed to.


“There has been a gay boom in Vietnam — in both cities,” says Minh. “Twenty years ago, you would have struggled to see openly gay people or couples walking down the street, or even in bars.”


“People are still very discreet because of the community environment. They’re worried about what people think,” Duong tells me over coffee. “Probably like how Sydney or London was 30 years ago.”

An image from “The Pink Choice” a compilation of photos of same-sex couples in Vietnam compiled by Vietnamese photographer Maika Elan.

However, none of this is to say that Hanoi has nothing to offer its gay residents and visitors. In fact, Minh, 35, says that compared with when he first came out 20 years ago, things have improved dramatically.

“There has been a gay boom in Vietnam — in both cities,” he says. “20 years ago, you would have struggled to see openly gay people or couples walking down the street, or even in bars.”

Indeed, there’s a lot of evidence to show that Hanoi’s gay scene is developing. At Com Ga Café in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, owner Anh-Thuan Nguyen has dedicated the fourth floor to The Closet, a gay-friendly café and lounge that hosts bi-monthly events.

Music and cocktail venue CAMA ATK, tucked away on Mai Hac De Street in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District, hosts a monthly Queer Disco where gay icons Beyonce, Kylie, Lady Gaga and Madonna are the main soundtrack and drag queens proudly strut their stuff for the audience. May’s Queer Disco also saw the launch of Hanoi’s first LGBT zine (hipster speak for “magazine”), Hanoi Panic, which is now stocked at cafes Joma, Daluva and La Bicicleta. The publication’s founders have also, as of September, opened the Hanoi Panic Bar, hosting everything from after parties to speaker events and weekly themed parties. 

“I think more spaces to meet other gay people would really improve the scene here,” he says. “Especially another bar or club with a dance floor to go dancing with friends — that would be amazing.”


There is also the US Embassy-sponsored ASEAN Pride Festival, which for the second consecutive year, saw around 5000 Hanoians gather to watch queer-friendly live music acts from around Southeast Asia perform to raise awareness of LGBT issues and celebrate sexual diversity. [Openly gay U.S. Ambassador – the first openly gay U.S. Ambassador to be posted to Southeast Asia – Ted Osius and husband Clayton Bond also attended the event, accompanied by other members of the diplomatic community.]

Revellers at this year’s Halloween Queer Disco Party at Club CAMA ATK in Hanoi. 

Of course, there are plenty of LGBT-friendly cafés found throughout Hanoi. In Tay Ho District, Maison de Tet Décor is popular with the brunching crowd, while Puku, Boo Cafe and the Hanoi Social Club show their fervent support of gay clientele with rainbow flags on the walls as a sign of proud solidarity.

But for Alex, an American expat who moved to Hanoi six months ago from Phnom Penh, the capital’s gay scene still lags behind other parts of Asia, including neighbouring Cambodia and Thailand.

“I think more spaces to meet other gay people would really improve the scene here,” he says. “Especially another bar or club with a dance floor to go dancing with friends — that would be amazing.”

Meanwhile, in Saigon

Down south, however, a slightly different story emerges. More developed, wealthier and with a larger contingent of expats and openly gay Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh City flies the rainbow flag moderately higher than its northern sister.

In comparison with Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City boasts a marginally more developed scene. Its comparatively high concentration of LGBT residents, including those who have relocated from the countryside or overseas, has also helped the tolerance levels, creating a more open and liberal environment where locals can be more open about their sexual preference.

“It’s not really hard to meet guys or girls here — whether it’s at the office, mixed bars or gyms like California Wow. People are less discreet here than they are in Hanoi,” he says.

“Ho Chi Minh City is more happening and open in terms of gay venues and the visibility of the gay community,” says Huy, an executive at a hip digital marketing agency in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1.

For the younger crowds, Saturday nights are typically split between Centro Lounge, near Lam Son Square, the Republic Lounge in District 1, or Papa Café, a café-cum-double-storey-club overlooking Turtle Lake.

“Older guys tend to go to Apocalypse, a gay-straight bar, but overall the scene is pretty mixed in terms of where different tribes — twinks, jocks, bears — hang out. It’s not really that segregated.”

Huy also says that Le Pub and THI Lounge in District 1 cater to mixed gay-straight crowds, with a strong patronage from gay clientele on weekends.

“It’s not really hard to meet guys or girls here — whether it’s at the office, mixed bars or gyms like California Wow. People are less discreet here than they are in Hanoi,” he says.

Of course, not everyone likes to be scene queen. “I don’t really frequent the ‘scene’ anymore,” explains former Saigon scenester Josh Nguyen. “I did get into it at one point but soon got tired of the stereotypical attitudes. The music is also a terrible mix between Vinahouse and Top 40.”

Wanted: More Lesbians

But while the gay fellas of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City might bemoan their lack of romantic options, women have it even harder.

“I did notice that it’s much, much easier to meet gay men in Ho Chi Minh City, and that the bigger expat community and maybe more outgoing locals meant I was meeting more gay people in general,” says Karen Hewell, an American expat who arrived in Vietnam nearly three years ago, and has lived in both cities.

“Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are not far apart in terms of a community for women,” she says, adding that after some fruitless searches online and asking around, she posted something on The New Hanoian, an English language community site in Vietnam.

“Meeting queer women can be difficult because of local traditions that stipulate children live with their parents until marriage. Had I not met her, I could imagine I would have reached a point of dire frustration”

“I had two ladies respond saying they also had a hard time finding places to meet like-minded women, and we sort of bonded over that.”

Karen, who now lives with her Vietnamese girlfriend in Hanoi, says the two met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. She says that initially cultural barriers made it tricky to meet other women, regardless of whether they were open about their sexuality or not.

“Meeting queer women can be difficult because of local traditions that stipulate children live with their parents until marriage. Had I not met her, I could imagine I would have reached a point of dire frustration.

“I know that people also use apps like Brenda and OkCupid, and Le Pub attracts a decent crowd of women on weekends, same with trendy coffee shops — but it moves around.”

However, in spite of the challenges, she’s optimistic that a shift in attitudes, along with bigger pride events, will deliver a more open and active gay scene for both men and women.

“Having now moved back to Hanoi after doing a long stint in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s so refreshing to see things like Queer Disco — that gays actually go to — pop up.”

The Apps

While Hanoi may be a little behind the times in regards to gay nightlife, it’s right on cue with its use of high-tech dating apps such as Grindr, Tindr, Jack’d and Her (for women) that employ GPS-tracking to connect you with other like-minded people nearby. Since arriving on the market around four years ago, use of the apps has skyrocketed along with the purchase of smartphones.

“In the past, people would have gone to gyms or saunas to meet people. Now, the apps mean you can meet other LGBT people even more discreetly — whether it’s other Vietnamese, tourists or expats,” says Tuan


“In the past, people would have gone to gyms or saunas to meet people. Now, the apps mean you can meet other LGBT people even more discreetly — whether it’s other Vietnamese, tourists or expats,” says Tuan, a 29-year-old business development manager.

But while the emergence of networking apps such as Grindr and Jack’d means Tuan has no trouble finding dates, he says it’s been harder to find someone to settle down with.

“Most people on networking apps, whether it’s hookup apps like Grindr or matchmaking apps like Tinder, aren’t really interested in a relationship,” says Tuan.

“I don’t like using the apps. But I still know a lot of people enjoy using them.”

Whether you’re heading out for the night or searching for love, it seems like there are increasingly more options on the table for gay people in Vietnam. For young guys like Binh, Alex and Duong, the current trends are encouraging.

“We know things are changing. And it’s definitely changing for the better — albeit slowly.

“As Vietnam develops and becomes more open, we know the gay scene will, too.”

**Disclaimer: This article was originally slated to run in the June edition of Word magazine but was pulled by Vietnam’s censors.