I’m more attractive in Asia

“She thinks you’re really handsome,” the hotel receptionist says to me, referring to his other coworker who works at the front desk. I laugh it off quite shyly, not knowing what to think of it. I don’t remember the last time a woman had commented on my appearance in this way. A few days later at a bar in Saigon, a guy comes up to me and stares admiringly at my grown out sideburns. “Wow I’m really loving your facial hair!” he exclaims amidst the loud environment. He keeps gazing with a grin and then strokes my shoulder as he walks away.

I also reinstalled my Grindr and Jack’d profiles as I do enjoy perusing and studying the LGBT communities outside of the US. I was bombarded with messages and pings. I didn’t put any different photos or anything new to my profiles, but yet I probably received double the amount of messages compared to when I had these apps in the US. I then wondered if it was because I was a foreigner or was it because brown bodies are the majority in Asia? It makes me think about monolithic and polylithic levels of attractions. Am I less attractive in the US because there is so much more diversity and other factors such as white supremacy? It might even be the fact that Asians are more direct with these types of compliments. I’m sure there are many layers to this and that there isn’t really one answer.

But It was nice to feel this type of attention. With everybody vying for social media validation nowadays, it was refreshing to receive these compliments when I least expected it.



Are you stronger than your desires?

Even though I’ve been in a relationship for the past 6 years, I still crush hard on other guys. I fucking hate it because the feelings are so unproductive. Whenever I see these crushes, my pheromones go nuts and all I want to do is smell them.

And it’s not even about sex because if that was the case, I would have opened up my relationship years ago. I can easily deal with thirst traps; it’s not lust I’m having trouble with. But when I meet someone that I can picture myself in a relationship with, it makes me feel goddamned uneasy.

A while back I had a massive crush on a friend, who later ended up telling me that he had feelings for me. It was such an awkward experience because even if I had told him that I reciprocated his feelings, nothing would have come from it. I absolutely do not want to get into a new relationship. I worked so hard for this current one; went through all the big fights, compromised a great deal, gave so much. There was no fucking way in hell I wanted to do that all over again with a new person. It would have been equivalent to me going from a senior management position back to an entry level position. Sure, it’s all fun and games and hearts emojis the first few months and years, but the real relationship doesn’t start till after the second year, from my experience. 

My issue is what do I do with all of these feelings? When I crush on someone the feeling is just there lingering, and I start getting pangs of unrequited love. It’s not making me love my boyfriend any less by any means. I just wish I had two bodies. I guess it’s one of those issues where you just have to keep quiet and let the feelings pass. It’s not easy though. 

This unrequited love
To me it’s nothing but a one-man cult


Take a moment today to live in Chen Chen’s crushingly beautiful poetry, which we still cannot stop feeling.

Three excerpts from selections from A Small Book of Questions after Bhanu Kapil, a poem by Chen Chen (@chenchenwrites) in Queer/Trans/Asian, a collection of writing from queer and/or trans-identifying writers of the Asian diaspora:

Who was responsible for the suffering of your mother?

When I tell my boyfriend the story about helping my mother with her writing, I explain, “In Chinese, there are no definite articles, no the.” I’m not sure if there is an explanation for my mother’s misuse or lack of on. Sometimes I have no idea which is better to use: on or in. Place your hope on. Place your hope in. When I search online, most of the sites that appear in the results have to do with passages from the Bible. Place your hope in God. On God. Though I don’t believe in him, it seems rude to place anything on God, even hope. I imagine God, sitting in heaven, weighed down by all the weighty abstractions people have and continue to place on him. Hope, immortality, truth, goodness, forgiveness, perfect love. Perfect speech.

What are the consequences of silence?

“Are you afraid of women because of me?”

I shook my head. I said, “I’m not afraid of women. I just don’t feel for women what I feel for guys, I guess.”

I wanted to answer my mother: “No, I’m afraid of you because of you.”

What do you remember about the earth?

When he says, “We’re both going to live to a hundred and then die peacefully in our sleep at the exact same time,” I say, “Yes,” I say, “Of course,” I kiss him, “Yes.” At the same time I think, But what about two hundred? Three?

What are the consequences of silence?

I wanted to answer my mother: “No, I’m not afraid of women. And I’m not afraid of you. I love men. That’s all. That’s what you can’t believe. Won’t say. Won’t let me answer, because you can’t find the right question.”

Who are you and whom do you love?

I know it can’t be true, that my mother has only spat out the word fuck in one conversation, one argument. I know her favorite swearword in English is shit; I’ve written poems based on clear and multiple memories of her saying shit. But when I try to remember when my mother said fuck, only one memory emerges: the time we were arguing about gay sex. As in, whether it was even sex at all. My mother kept saying, “That’s just fucking.” At first I thought she was searching for the next word, that she was using fucking as a modifier for some horrible noun: fucking sickness, fucking madness, fucking filth. But then she went on: “That’s just fucking; that’s not anything.” She had found searches for gay porn in my Internet browser search history. I had forgotten to erase them. I had forgotten to forget them. “How can you look at that? That shit. Those men. Just fucking.” She said the word fucking with such force that it seemed like she had invented the word and was testing it out for the first time. I wanted to correct her: I also enjoy looking at men sucking each other off. Or going back and forth between sucking and kissing. Actually I might like looking at that more than the fucking. I wanted to start a conversation of sorts: Yes, sometimes it doesn’t look like they’re enjoying themselves; sometimes it looks painful, the fucking. Then she said, “When I’ve been with your father, it feels good. It feels right. It’s not that.” So straight people get to feel good and right. Gay men only fuck. Gay men only feel or have that. Who knows if that is even a feeling?

What would you say if you could?

I imagine my mother in a red truck, her head leaning out the window: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you, it was so dark, I’m sorry, I made it that way, I didn’t see, I didn’t want to, I didn’t see you, I couldn’t see myself, I’m sorry, are you okay?”

The Lecher, The Survivor, and The Hangman: three cards from the reinterpreted tarot card deck of the Asian American Literary Review’s Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health. Card texts, with excerpts bolded by me:

The Lecher
Art by Monica Ong, text by Mimi Khúc & Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis 

The Lecher is the thirteenth card in the major arcana. Picture him a destroyer, but remember: he is our uncle, our cousin, our holy man, our child. Sometimes mistaken for a lone monster, he is a fixture of every family portrait, every community charter. Yes, the expressions on faces demand exegesis. Do not read them. The atmosphere is what matters – we use expressions to inflect the immaterial, but the real medium is space itself. Look at the forest. Predation is always near us, and not simply in the tremulous body of the predator, but in the forest that teaches him to hunt, a forest we tend together, with sacrifice and debt. A forest we keep quiet together, to safeguard our communal vulnerability. Take a breath. Outrage blinds us to our complicity, outrage styles itself a solution we must know is no solution. The Lecher reminds us that outrage is wind, not air. It reminds us to look not around the corner but in that heaviness that binds our limbs, our spirits, that poisonous silk threaded in our every connection. Trace the fine lines. Find where they loop and knot around you, in you, where they cut into soft flesh, strangle, sever. Untie, unweave, as fast as you can. Allow yourself to grieve what has been lost. Care for the Survivor.

The Survivor
Art by Monica Ong, text by Tanwi Nandini Islam

The Survivor is the fourteenth card in the major arcana. She is often depicted as a shadow walking away from a pyre of ashes, the remnants of a bonfire on the beach. She emerges from the sands exposed by a waning tide. She feels the hands that once hurt her, told her that she was unworthy, tried to drown her in pain that was not hers. She is adorned in scars that are always healing, never vanishing. The stigma of being an outsider, of being wayward or taking life into your own hands, has taken its toll on you. You’ve been through so much already. The situation at hand may seem impossible, but you have the ability to transform it to conspire in your favor. Now is the time to reap the fruits of your emotional labor. It is time to walk away from the shackling hands of the past. Your pain isn’t your identity, but a vestige of you as a victim. You carry the memories and histories of your people – they survived too. The Survivor card calls upon us to remember what made us who we are – however hard, or ugly – and carry that into our futures. There is a beautiful power in our vulnerability. Let your heart do the heavy lifting, and let it lead you.

The Hangman
Art by Camille Chew (@lordofmasks), text by James Kyung-jin Lee 

The Hangman is the twenty-first card in the major arcana. The Hangman is the body rent asunder by the violence of empire, racism, patriarchy, and ableism. As people pass him hanging there, they thank God that they are not him, until they are. Then, they begin to think differently about this hanged body, because theirs is being hoisted and harnessed to their own suffering borne of empire, racism, patriarchy, age, everyday violence, bodily failure. Then they realize that she who seemed so alone as she hangs there was in fact not so, but instead hung there as a witness to the violence but not fully consumed by it. Because even here, in the cataclysm of her hanging, another witnesses her in her suffering and thus liberates her suffering for an altogether different – dare we say – utopian impulse. And so now, they, who are also being hanged, can join in a community of sufferers, a brotherhood and sisterhood who bear the marks of pain, and invite others into such solidarity, so that when they, when we, meet our ends, we will know that we are surely not alone. Receiving this card may feel like the worst fate imaginable, but take heart! The very cosmos weeps with you.

When I was subjected to nonconsensual groping on a dorm trip during college by a friend at the time, and when I was sexually assaulted six months later by my long-term intimate partner at the time, both times were by queer Asian/Pacific Islander people whom I had trusted but who acted as if they were entitled to use my body for their own desires. What I needed from my university (as an institution and as communities of students), and what it failed at, were sexual violence prevention resources specifically addressing LGBTQ students; support resources and accountability processes responsive to the needs of LGBTQ survivors and survivors from minority ethnic backgrounds; and an ability to deal with sexual violence as something which all of our communities are implicated in, something which can’t be solved by denying its presence or focusing on individual perpetrators.

Sexual violence may seem to pass by many of us, especially when we’re led to believe that it’s only a problem of individual perpetrators targeting other people – but as long as sexual violence is enabled or swept under the rug in our communities, it will visit us or people we care about. The power we can exert over it comes from supporting all survivors in meeting their individual needs and from proactively unmaking the conditions that foster it. This includes practicing and improving how we do communication, intimacy, positive sexuality, and consent. This includes building our collective ability to push perpetrators who are our friends or relatives to take accountability for their actions in whatever way their survivors need. And this requires unlearning what our culture teaches us about the value of masculinity and femininity, about shaming ourselves and each other for our bodies and desires and emotions, about entitlement and boundaries and respect.

– Ethan

Reminder to sign up and come to the G3S San Diego Social! 

Event: G3S San Diego Social

Location: Infini Tea
4690 Convoy St #111, San Diego, CA 92111

Time: 3:00pm, Sunday, March 12th.

Description: This is the first G3S Social in San Diego. Come hang out with us!

RSVP HERE, or via facebook here.