The Case for (and Against) Gay Pride Festivals

When I had my first boyfriend, I was still in the closet.  I remember very specifically one time driving through Hollywood with him when he put his hand on my leg.  With survival-skill reflexes, my brain instantly remembered that a coworker of mine lived in the neighborhood.  What if she happened to be walking by at that exact moment and looked into the car and saw another guy’s hand on my leg!?  I began to panic, but as always, I kept my cool and found some way of temporarily resolving the issue while avoiding the underlying problem; I asked him to adjust the air conditioning vent, then I quickly put my hand on the gear shift and blocked his access to my leg.

Appearance of straightness, accomplished.

There’s all sorts of things wrong with the fact that my brain was wired to react that way. First of all, my boyfriend’s hand was at the wrong angle to be seen from the sidewalk, my coworker actually lived over a mile away from where we were, and even in the incredibly unlikely event that she had taken a long walk that day, climbed a step latter on the sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd, and turned to look into traffic at that exact moment… I already knew she had no problem with gay people and neither would anyone else at my job!

In hindsight, it wasn’t my proudest moment.

My relationship with gay pride festivals has been about as complicated as my relationship with my own gay pride.  The socially progressive church I grew up in was located in San Diego’s gay neighborhood of Hillcrest.  Every time San Diego Gay Pride came around, our church would organize groups to go support the festivities and for a few years even had a float that ran in the parade, but I never attended.  Although it’s a bit disconcerting to know that my parents have participated in more gay pride festivals in my lifetime than I have, I do have a justification.

One of the major reasons for having gay pride festivals is to increase gay visibility – the idea being that more exposure will result in more acceptance – but I think gay pride festivals can do the gay community a real disservice in this regard.

Ignorant people and homophobes figure all gays are either depraved leather-daddy sex fiends or prissy rainbow-flag-waving flamers, and they use those stereotypes to define us as “others” who they can be justified in hating and wanting nothing to do with.  So after every pride parade, what sort of images do the media outlets feature in order to open these people’s minds about the gay community and redefine harmful stereotypes?

“Dear homophobes, you got it right.” – the mainstream media

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a leather daddy or femme twink, but why can’t the media ALSO show the average, everyday (and clothed) gays who comprise the majority of the crowd?

Oh yeah, because that’s boring as hell.

Since this type of media coverage can contribute to a potentially harmful and inaccurate representation of the gay community, I avoided pride festivals completely… until a few years ago.

I was driving to pick up my leg-touching boyfriend for dinner in the week leading up to LA’s gay pride weekend, when I passed by a marquee outside of one of the clubs on Sunset Blvd with a message that really stuck with me.

I never saw the sign again, nor did I mention it to my boyfriend, but as we drove to dinner tother that night, I put my hand on his leg.

It was a simple slogan that I’ve since discovered was actually part of an advertisement for LA Weekly.  But those two small words had a very real impact on me; they’d made me more comfortable about my sexuality and more proud of who I was.  It begged the question, what could an entire parade do!?

It was then I realized that I had been thinking of gay pride the wrong way.  While it is an attempt to raise acceptance outside of the gay community (and I still think my complaints in that department are valid), its even more important role is to raise acceptance inside each individual member of the community.

I’ve attended pride festivals ever since.  Last year I was even lucky enough to be accompanied by my parents at San Diego’s pride parade where I saw another sign that made me even prouder.

Thanks mom!

Now I am a big advocate for pride parades, and I encourage everyone to attend their local festival, because you never know how even the smallest thing you might see or do can have a significant positive impact on your life.  Hell, I went from being the guy who’s afraid to let his boyfriend touch his leg in the privacy of a car to the guy who spent the last LA Gay Pride wearing only these:

And no, my friends haven’t stopped giving me grief about it.

Happy pride!

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Jeremy Lin: The Amazing Asian Man Redefined!

I was always a tall kid.  So growing up, whenever I met an adult who felt compelled to attempt conversation with someone several decades their junior, they would, without fail, say something like the following:

You’re so tall!  Do you play basketball?

Other than one season of tee ball when I peed my pants at practice and never returned, I haven’t played any organized sports in my life.  I was never very coordinated or athletic as a kid, but in that moment I always wished I could have had something to say, like “Only on days that end in ‘y’,” or “Not since my dunking injury,” or “No, my first and only love is tee ball.”  But since none of those were true, I was regretfully forced to say simply, “No,” and the already awkward conversation would become even more so.

I certainly don’t hold it against these adults for asking.  I’d imagine their thinking goes something like this: Basketball players are tall. This kid is tall.  This kid might play basketball so, since I don’t care about Nintendos or Pokemons or whatever kids do, I should ask him about that!

Then the emasculating question would spout from their yap, and I’d feel terrible about my complete waste of being tall for the rest of our conversation, which was at least brief – apparently adults are only prepared to ask kids one question per interaction.

Since I first started writing this blog, I’ve wanted to write a reaction to the annual Asian Men Redefined calendar.  I commend that it raises funds for Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, and I certainly don’t mind what I see…

Not at all...

But the name of the calendar itself seems to imply that there is something inherently wrong with the definition of Asian men, and from what I can gather by the photos, the thing that’s “wrong” is that they are not all muscly sex objects.

Either that, or that they wear too many shirts.

I get that stereotyping is bad, so showcasing a lesser acknowledged side of Asian men is definitely a good thing.  But for every Asian guy out there who is offended by the stereotypes like short, nerdy, or not athletic, there is another Asian guy out there who actually is short, or nerdy, or not athletic.  And guess what?  That’s fine!  I happen to be quite fond of short Asian guys, I think nerdiness is cute, and I couldn’t care less about athletic ability.  I’m white and I can’t dance, but some calendar of white guys who are awesome dancers isn’t going to change that, in fact, it might just make me feel worse.

The recent obsession with Jeremy Lin, point guard for the New York Knicks, is the latest example of well meaning people trying to “redefine” Asian men, and they certainly picked an excellent poster boy.  In addition to his athletic prowess, Lin sounds like a smart, humble, and nice guy.

“And he ain’t no Yao Ming lookin’ Asian either!”

But if the title I chose for this blog post sounds like a shout carried on the whisky-laden breath of a toothless carnie to lure you into some dank boxcar side show, it’s because that’s what Linsanity has, in many ways, become.

Step right up and see the Amazing Asian Man Redefined!  Over 6 feet tall!  Plays sports!  GPA under 3.5 – and that’s not in computer science, people!  Still, 100% Asian blood!  You won’t believe it ‘til you’ve seen him with your own eyes!  Also, don’t miss the swan with two penises in the next cage…

People are treating Jeremy Lin as a spectacle, an icon, a model that Asian men should aspire to.  But what are we as a society saying to young men when we put physical ability and masculinity on such a pedestal?  What does that say to the uncoordinated kid, the fat kid, the short kid, the disabled kid, or the effeminate kid who will never be Jeremy Lin?

It’s creating the same type of atmosphere that made me feel ashamed to admit I’d never played basketball.  If someone had asked me if I played backgammon, I’d simply have said “no” and moved on with the conversation.  I care as little about playing basketball as I do backgammon, so why did basketball make me feel ashamed?

I’ve never much enjoyed watching sports, I’ve never much enjoyed playing them.  I’m a writer!  I’d rather invest my time brainstorming story ideas, or writing blog posts, or, let’s be honest, doing the thing a writer does most: procrastinating.  I’ve never gotten to the end of a screenplay and thought, “Damn, I could have practiced so many layups in the time it took to write this!”

I’m not saying that Jeremy Lin’s success is a bad thing (or that I don’t own 5 of those Asian Men Redefined calendars); he’s opening minds, he’s inspiring a ton of people, and, most importantly, he’s getting my friend over at IAMYELLOWPERIL.COM laid and published.  But for those young Asian guys who aren’t muscular, who aren’t 6’3”, who have zero hand-eye coordination, and who don’t have a blue tongue…

…there are a ton of other people of all colors and abilities in this world to be inspired by.  Just because certain characteristics become idolized doesn’t mean we should feel ashamed if we can’t match them, especially if we don’t even care about those characteristics in the first place!

Just to be clear, I am a fan of Jeremy Lin and the whole Linsanity epidemic.  I support any movement that plasters the photo of a cute Asian guy all over the internet, TV, and grocery store checkout aisles – hell, I finally have a reason to watch basketball, and who knows?  I could become so inspired that I buy a ball and practice dribbling until I’m competent enough to go to the gym and shoot free throws during non-peak hours when nobody will see me; then, once I can make more shots than I miss, go to the park to join in a pickup game where maybe one of the players will be in a local league, he’ll invite me to join, and I can spend every weekend playing basketball so that the next time someone says “You’re so tall!  Do you play basketball?” I’ll proudly be able to answer: “Yes, I do.  I do play basketball!”

…Actually, that sounds like a lot of time I’d rather spend on other things.

I’ll stick to writing about it instead.

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COARQ Turns One!

Tomorrow, Confessions of a Rice Queen turns one year old!

And yes, I actually put a candle in a soy-sauce dish of rice to celebrate

What started as a self-serving exercise of getting my writing out into the world (rather than confined to my hard drive) has over the course of the year become a significant part of my life.  I never would have started this blog without the cajoling of my friend Justin Huang whose own blog is not only an inspiration but one of the most enjoyable reads online.

When I first started writing, I was concerned the blog wouldn’t be taken seriously or worse, that it would offend a whole lot of people.  Instead, it’s opened the door to discussions about life, dating, race, homosexuality, and everything in-between.  I get such a high from the emails, comments, and feedback of you readers, it makes the whole experience very rewarding.  Without all of you, I would have given up a long time ago, so I thank you from the bottom of my rice-loving heart.

Oh, and for those of you who have patiently awaited a new post and are thoroughly disappointed by this one, there’s a real blog post coming tomorrow, so sit tight!

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When Visiting Thailand, I Should Have Listened to Marlon Brando

“So, Barzini will move against you first. He’ll set up a meeting with someone that you absolutely trust, guaranteeing your safety. And at that meeting, you’ll be assassinated. […] Listen, whoever comes to you with this Barzini meeting, he’s the traitor. Don’t forget that.” – spoken by Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) as a warning to his son Michael (Al Pacino) in The Godfather

I bet Marlon Brando never had a trip to Thailand like mine...

I first visited Thailand in 2006 and had such an amazing experience that I knew I’d be back.

<insert ping-pong show joke>

<insert Bang-COCK joke>

<insert Ladyboy joke>

But really, I do love Thailand and it has nothing to do with the oh-so-original jokes and negative cultural stereotypes that people bring up EVERY TIME I mention it.

…ok, it has VERY LITTLE to do with the the oh-so-original jokes and negative cultural stereotypes that people bring up every time I mention it!

From the natural forests of Chang Mai, to the pristine beaches of Krabi, to the bustling metropolis of Bangkok where centuries-old temples are but a few minutes walk from some of the world’s most modern skyscrapers, Thailand offers a plethora of experiences for the young, backpacking tourist.

In many ways Thailand is a very traditional and conservative culture – they still have lese-majesty laws, and they think feet are so offensive the government blocked YouTube from the whole country over a video juxtaposing bare feet and the King!  But in other ways it’s more advanced and progressive than the United States – they have hoses attached to the toilets so you can spray your butt clean (want one!), and some schools now offer transgender restrooms so those students don’t get made fun of as much… although I’m not sure redesigning the stick-figure was necessarily helpful.

A simple unisex sign would have sufficed

The thing I most remember from that first trip is that everywhere I went, the people were so nice!  They didn’t make fun of my (I’m sure terrible) attempts at speaking Thai, they helped when I asked for directions or simply looked lost, and it seemed like everyone I met from children to grandmothers were quick with a smile.  I even met someone there who was gracious enough to be my tour guide, and with whom I’ve remained good friends ever since.

My second trip to Thailand was in 2009 when I went there with my boyfriend.  My boyfriend was Filipino (well, I suppose he still is), so locals kept assuming he was Thai and would try speaking to him.  While I had taken some Thai lessons prior to the trip, I think the only phrase my boyfriend learned was Pom pud Thai mai dai – “I’m not Thai.”  But since Thai is a tonal language and we considered ourselves lucky if we simply remembered the right vowel sounds, who knows what they thought he was saying, but the message was clear nonetheless: he at least didn’t speak Thai, and that was usually good enough to get someone to break into English.

Our first morning in Bangkok, we headed out to see the Grand Palace and a few temples.  We accidentally got off a stop early from the water taxi and decided instead of getting back on, we’d walk through a local flower market and make our way to the palace on foot.  While walking, we ran into a man who tried speaking Thai to my boyfriend and when that didn’t work he asked if we were tourists.  We explained that we were on our way to see the Grand Palace.

Well, it was a good thing we ran into him because unbeknownst to us, it was some sort of Buddhist holy day and the Grand Palace and adjoining temple were going to be closed to the public until later that afternoon.  With a couple hours to kill, he took a look at the map we had been reading and pointed out a few closer temples that would be open to us.

He also asked if we were doing any shopping because there was a designer suit sale happening just that weekend (on my previous trip I got two custom-made suits for super cheap and was looking forward to getting a couple more).  He said we should take a tuk-tuk (which a common mode of transportation in Bangkok) and that it shouldn’t cost more than 20 baht to go to all the destinations he circled on the map and then to the Grand Palace.

Named after the sound they make: “tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk”

20 baht!?  That’s like fifty cents.  I knew tuk-tuk drivers drove up the prices for tourists, but I’d never in my life taken a ride for 20 baht.  It was usually at least 100 just to cross the street!  He explained that some tuk-tuks can charge whatever they want, but the ones with a yellow sticker in the front are the King’s company and they have pre-negotiated rates.  He flagged down one of these cheaper tuk-tuks and confirmed with the driver that he could take us to all those places for only 20 baht.  We thanked him profusely as we tuk-tuked away.

The first temple we went to was much smaller than the one by the Grand Palace, but still had some nice art and was at least interesting.  We ran into a Thai man there who seemed surprised to see tourists.  We explained how we had been headed to the Grand Palace, but would have to go back later because of the holiday.  He confirmed that and said it was pretty cool that our tuk-tuk driver offered to take us there in the meantime.

The next temple we visited had a vendor selling ice cream outside.  My boyfriend and I each got a taro ice cream popsicle (so good, and another reason I love Thailand), and I also bought one for our driver because it was a hot day and I was starting to feel like we were taking advantage of him by making him drive us to all over for such a measly fee.

The next place we went was the suit shop where my boyfriend and I took quite a long time getting measured and determining what fabric to make our suits out of.  The suit shop was not run by Thai people, so I was immediately skeptical and kept haggling with them so I wouldn’t get taken advantage of.  Finally we got some price that seemed fair but the suit shop needed half the payment as a deposit and would only accept cash, so we had to go to a bank across the street which slowed things down even more.  Again, I felt even worse about making our driver wait for us while these annoying shop owners were putting us through all this, but he was totally patient and seemed completely fine.

By this time it was well past noon and the driver said he could take us to the Grand Palace.  As we bid farewell to him, I felt like he had taken such good care of us, I gave him 100 baht to cover the 20 baht fare.

Yes, I realize that amounts to about two dollars which is what I would tip at a bar here… for one drink… when it’s a beer… in a bottle.  Looking back, I realize that I valued this guy’s 3 hours of driving us all over Thailand to the half a second it takes a bartender to open a bottle of Heineken and somehow felt generous about it…

Anyhow, the rest of the day was great!  We saw the palace, got a Thai massage, and were ready to relax that evening over dinner and drinks with my Thai friend I had met back in 2006.  As the three of us strolled through an outdoor market looking for places to eat, my boyfriend and I eagerly recounted to him how lucky we’d been that morning:

We were about to go to the Grand Palace this morning – now don’t laugh, we hadn’t realized that it was a Buddhist holiday – but fortunately we ran into this guy who told us not to go until later and got us in this special low price tuk-tuk that drove us to a one day only designer sale where we bought custom-made suits that we paid for in cash…

As I heard the words coming out of my mouth, I already began to feel it… and my friend’s face only confirmed what I had been oblivious to the whole day.

There was no Buddhist holiday.  There was no special tuk-tuk.  There was no one-day sale.

There was a man who spotted two suckers wandering through the wrong flower market, made up a lie to get us on his friend’s tuk-tuk, and made an arrangement with a suit shop to pay them a cut of their overpriced wares for bringing in fresh tourists.  We had been scammed.

I’ve played the events of that back in my head… everything was so well orchestrated.  From the seemingly time-saving advice, to the explanation of why we should get in that one specific tuk-tuk, to the guy at the first temple who confirmed the whole story, to why the driver happily worked for 20 baht.  My friend asked how much we spent on the suits… it turned out to be a couple hundred dollars over the going rate.

Suddenly I wanted that exorbitant 400% tip back… and taro ice cream popsicle!

The next day we went back to the suit shop for the fitting, but our driver wasn’t there (lucky for him).  As if it wasn’t embarrassing enough to have been ripped off, we now had to return, knowing that the people in the shop knew that we probably knew that we had been ripped off, but still had to face them if we wanted to salvage anything from this horrible experience.

For days, even weeks, the whole incident was really bothersome: Why did this happen to me!?

But it didn’t really happen to me, it kind of happened because of me.

It’s not like I went out for a night on the town and woke up in an ice bath with a note taped to my forehead that my kidney had been removed – Now that would be something happening to me.  What I experienced was much more in my control… like David Carradine’s last trip to Bangkok… but without the rope around my balls.

If it hadn't been autoerotic asphyxiation, it would have been Uma Thurman that got him

Nothing I lost in this scam was against my will, and nothing was done to me that I wasn’t in control of.  So the better question was: How could I let this happen?

The answer: Asians.

I have a weak spot for Asians.  Just like I imagine the cute Asian guy I haven’t met at the bar is smart, funny, and charming, I also imagine that the middle-aged Asian stranger who offers some advice to a tourist is well intentioned, helpful, and kind.

In fact, the only people I was skeptical of in this whole scenario were the non-Asian suit shop guys whose only crime was earning a profit.  They never lied to me about anything.  It was the Asians who lied to me, and I bought it: hook, line, and ping pong.

It’s like what Marlon Brando explained to Al Pacino in The Godfather: the ones who can take advantage of you the most are the ones you trust the most.

It’s a lesson so obvious it shouldn’t need repeating, but we’re humans and we have emotions that make us naturally inclined to trust people.  In many cases, that’s a good thing, but it’s still important to remember that it makes you vulnerable.

What happened to me with the suit situation could have been a lot worse.  We did end up getting the suits and they were everything we wanted them to be (except for inexpensive).

Sometimes people have one bad experience with another race and they will start stereotyping all of them negatively.  I’ve had good experiences with another race and started stereotyping all of them positively.

Despite what I went through, if I’m going to err one of those two ways, I’d still choose the latter… but the next time I’m in Thailand and someone offers a special tuk-tuk ride on an alleged Buddhist holiday, I’ll remember that it’s an offer I can refuse.

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If I’ve Always Been Gay, Then I’ve Always Been A Rice Queen

A lot of people when they come out say something like “I always knew,” and almost equally as often, those around them say “so did we.”  At my coming out, neither such phrase was uttered, which may be why it took me so many years figure it out.

Sure, there were signs…

As a child, I played with my sister’s Barbies, performed in school musicals, dressed up in my mom’s clothes, and cried about everything.  And while that might sound like I was obviously a little queen, none of those behaviors have anything to do with being attracted to men.  Plus, I exhibited them rather infrequently… except the crying.

Recently, one of my long-time friends prefaced a story about me with: “Back when you were pretending to be straight…”  I would have preferred that he say “back when you thought you were straight,” but ultimately it amounts to the same thing.  As anyone who believes in biology, psychology, or Lady Gaga knows, being gay is not a choice.  Whether I knew it or not, I was born this way, baby.

But as a friend who had a similar “I didn’t always know” coming out experience described, he has memories from his childhood that only in retrospect does he realize were gay. Since he shared that with me, I’ve recalled several “oh yeah, that was pretty gay” memories of my own.  These aren’t memories of behaviors (certainly if I were kissing boys or beating it to gay porn, someone would have known), these are memories of more intangible things like thoughts and emotions that I simply didn’t acknowledge growing up. But is it even fair to expect a kid to know he’s gay?

Kids are dumb.

They really are.  I mean, I love kids, I plan on having at least 10, but man are they dumb!  When I was a kid, I was dumb, and I have a sneaking suspicion that you weren’t exactly Bobby Fischer yourself.

Aside from the inability to read or do math (so dumb!), we’re also born with the inability to express our emotions.  When babies are hungry they cry, when they’re tired they cry, when they shit themselves they cry.  Come on!  Even when kids learn to talk, and they know the actual words necessary to express what they’re feeling, these little idiots can’t do it!  (To be fair, I know many adults who still have this problem.)

Example: When a kid likes another kid – not just like, but like like – they demonstrate their fond affection for this wonderful other person by… pushing them in the sandbox, or pulling their hair, or calling them “fart face.”  More often than not, kids act like they hate the ones they like the most.

Future Lovers

But how can we expect kids to know how to respond to attraction when they don’t even know what an erection is yet!?  (Thank you, failed sex education policy and sexually scared parents of America…)

In second grade, when I was right in the prime of childhood stupidity, my parents got the movie Hook on VHS.  If you’ve not heard of Hook, it’s a modern day continuation of the Peter Pan story.  And if you’ve not heard of Peter Pan, then maybe you’re not as gay as you think you are.

I do believe in fairies!

Aside from being two and a half hours long and having some weird subplot about Tinker Bell wanting to bone Peter Pan, Hook is actually a great movie for the whole family.  I probably watched it a dozen times between ages 7 and 8 and memorized at least half of the lines.

As the story goes, when adult Peter Pan (played by Robin Williams) returns to Neverland, he discovers the gang of Lost Boys he used to roll with have found a new kid, Rufio, to be their leader in his absence.  Rufio is scary and mean, carries a dangerous sword, has shadowy eye sockets, breaks the rules, and terrorizes Peter Pan.  He’s a bad kid, and Peter Pan needed to get in there, learn to fly, and take back his rightful place as leader from that jerk with the horrible Brooklyn accent!

Or at least, since last watching that movie 20 years ago, that’s how I remembered it.

After starting this blog post, I decided to rent Hook and watch it again (making this my most expensive post yet!).  Here’s how the movie actually goes:

Rufio is sarcastic and funny, does some sweet moves with this badass sword, has fierce eye shadow, and exemplifies the freedom of childhood as a character foil to the older, jaded Peter Pan.  Peter Pan was a old, uptight jerk, and for him to turn back into the hero that he once was, Rufio needed to shake things up, and that’s exactly what he did!  (He did still have a horrible Brooklyn accent, though.)

Why did I remember this character so differently?  Why did I hate him so much when I was a kid?

Did I mention he looks like this?

ROOOOOOOOF...

...EEEEEEEEEE...

...OOOOOOOOOOOOO!

That’s right.  Rufio, the leader of the lost boys, is Asian.

I hated him because he was older, cooler, and had way better hair than me.  I hated him because he was fun and funny and totally cute.  I hated him because… I liked him – no, I like liked him.

Today, I understand my thoughts better and express my emotions with at least a hint of clarity, but I guess one thing that hasn’t changed is my taste in men (and the crying… I still cried 4 times re-watching Hook).

If I’ve always been gay, then it’s safe to say I’ve always been a rice queen.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what Dante Basco, the actor who played Rufio, is looking like these days…

Drool...

And while he’s an absolute stallion in D&G, Diesel, and Guess, I like to imagine he kept that bone necklace, feather earring, and red wig, and every once in a great while he still moonlights as Rufio, leader of the lost boys – looking for adventure, saving the day, and stealing little hearts like mine.

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My Coming Out as a Rice Queen

A lot has happened in my life in the past 140 days…

For one thing, I came out!

Not the big “coming out” with glitter and boas and jazz hands and my mom crying (that was several years ago), but about a month ago, I came out to one group of friends… as a rice queen.

If you’re at all familiar with this blog, you may have figured already that I am an aspiring writer.  Specifically, my focus is on screenwriting, so every couple weeks I get together with a group of fellow writers to go over each other’s scripts, talk about new ideas we’ve had, and just shoot the shit.  Now, I’ve been in this group for nearly 4 years and although they know that I’m gay, they didn’t know that I’m a rice queen. (You’d think the fact that each of my scripts includes an obligatory hot shirtless Asian would have been a tipoff.)

And no, I didn't write G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but I thank whoever did

These writers meetings are occasionally held at my apartment where in the course of the past 12 months I’ve lived with 3 different Asian guys. Finally, one of my writer friends was compelled to very tastefully draw attention to the pattern of my homosexual Asian cohabiters and politely ask if there were any sort of particular explanation.  It went something along the lines of “Dude, what’s with all the Gaysians?  Is this like some kind of fetish?”

Oh boy…  My mind was racing for the simplest way to satisfy his curiosity without spawning a whole new line of questioning.   I felt like a Catholic being asked to explain to a Jew how the holy trinity is still monotheistic… It could have gone on for hours and only ended in me coming off as some semantic wizard and him walking away confused.

Yes, I like Asian guys, but a fetish implies objectification which I find offensive when used with whole groups of people. Well yeah, I’ve really only ever dated Asian guys, but I’m not like those creepy old white guys who have young “boyfriends” in Thailand, although I’ll acknowledge that in the broadest terms, we do share a common object of desire. No, I don’t mean Asian guys are “objects” – it’s just a phrase!

I knew the longer my internal debate drew on, the more awkward any response would appear, so I spouted out the most concise thing I could think of:

“You should just check out my blog sometime.”

The key word there was “sometime” – as in, hopefully-by-the-time-you-get-home-you’ll-have-forgotten-we-had-this-conversation sometime.  But I knew perfectly well that you can’t give a juicy web address like ConfessionsOfARiceQueen.com to a man with a laptop in hand and expect anything but for him to check it out that second.

I immediately regretted it.

What had I just admitted to?  What would they think of me?  I started to turn red with preemptive embarrassment.  But in that moment of fear, it occurred to me that it wasn’t the content of the blog that I found most embarrassing… it was the lack of content.

As the site loaded and my friends began scrolling through the headlines and photos while laughing hysterically at my expense, I made no disclaimers or apologies about the blog’s riceyness or queenyness, but instead began doing damage control for why the most recent blog post was over three months old.

My internet’s been acting up, you can’t blog without the internet, right?  Oh, and my laptop is really old and the fan is starting to go and the air conditioner in my room is broken and the horrible property managers never fix anything in a timely manner, I wouldn’t want my hard drive to melt.  But don’t worry, I have soooo many ideas, I just couldn’t pick one to write next, I need to think about it a bit longer, so technically I have been blogging… in my brain.

I stopped short of “the dog ate my blog post” and finally admitted that laziness, plain and simple, was the real reason the blog hadn’t been updated in months.

“Hasn’t been updated in months?  Sounds like a blog to me!” was his response which actually made me feel a little better.  Then another group member brought up that he too had a blog that he hadn’t updated in almost a year – that made me feel even better. As we laughed about how blogs usually start off with a bang then wane down, I was feeling pretty good about my blog own again.  I wasn’t a bad blogger, I was the very definition of a blogger!

And suddenly, that’s what scared me the most.

For months, every time somebody subscribed to the blog, posted a comment, or sent me an email, I was wracked with guilt about not having written anything new.  Then, in the course of this one group meeting – a group I’m in because I  want to be a professional writer – I had accepted that not writing was satisfactory behavior.

If I’m gonna be any sort of writer worth his salt, I should damn well be capable of a few hundred words of gay entertainment more often than once in 4 months.  Heck, the writers of Glee produce a whole hour of gay entertainment every week.

I could write this show!

Whether screenwriting or blogging, I write for an audience, which is why I want to sincerely thank everyone who has read, commented,  subscribed to, posted on Facebook, or even just skimmed through the pictures on this site.  Without all of you, this blog would be nothing more than my private diary (and I haven’t updated that in years).  I feel like I owe you all an apology for disappearing, but more importantly I owe you a promise of regular content in the future.

A lot will happen in my life in the next 140 days… and I’ll be right here blogging about it.

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Expand Your Queercabulary: Potato Queen, Sticky Rice

I had a conversation about online dating with an Asian friend who expressed that he was particularly bummed that some of the Asian guys he had messaged never bothered to message him back. He reached the disappointing conclusion that some Asian guys just will not date other Asians. His online dating had hit a brick wall that went by the name of “potato queen.”

By now, you should all know what a rice queen is.  If not, go read some more of my blog posts in the column on the right.  And if you somehow ended up on this site, it’s also likely you know what these other terms mean, but here’s the pocket-dictionary definition just in case.

Potato Queen – An Asian guy who’s into white guys
Sticky Rice – An Asian guy who’s into other Asian guys

It seems like most people in our politically correct world these days dislike the use of labels, but just like I got over my fear of being called a rice queen, I’ve come to embrace the use of other labels as well.

One time while I was in college there was this huge grocery store strike that went on for months, so in solidarity with the workers who had for years so thoughtfully packed my loaves of bread in the top of the bag so they didn’t get squished by heavier items, I started shopping at less mainstream grocery stores where the workers weren’t striking. Now, the problem I noticed with non-mainstream grocery stores (other than the overwhelming smell of dust and seafood) was that the items they stock are about as obscure as a hipster’s iTunes playlist. Most of the time I could at least tell what the food was supposed to be.

Full of fiber.  Lacking in cheer.

By far the worst offenders in lack of quality control were the canned foods. To save like a tenth of a cent, I guess these off-brands decided that instead of using glue to adhere the labels, they would use rejected 3rd world postage-stamp adhesive.  These things wouldn’t have passed inspection at a Post-It factory.

By the time I got the groceries home, I’d have a couple bags of crumpled up labels and unmarked cans. Despite my best efforts at identification, I eventually accepted that had no idea what I was about to eat. I was a college student (aka too broke to waste food), and I consider myself pretty creative, so whatever came out of the cans I happened to open were whipped up into some clever, if unconventional meal. All that ended after a horrifying breakfast of pear-tunafish salad, and the remaining unmarked cans went straight into the trash.

When it has to do with food, labeling is an obvious, accepted, and desired thing to do as it makes getting what you want infinitely easier.  It should be the same way with people.

Online dating is becoming more and more of a mainstream way for couples to meet. The thing I like most about it is the ability to prescreen potential dates.  In about 30 seconds I can gather most of the information about a person that I would get from an hour at dinner, but without the awkward who’s-going-to-get-the-check moment that comes at the end of a bad date when I just want to cut my losses, go home, and watch some porn. Height, weight, race, age, religion, income, profession, zodiac sign; it’s all right there!

The downside about finding people online is that before you make the first move, it’s impossible to read the other person’s immediate interest in you.

Meeting new people is all about confidence. Nobody likes rejection; not only is it an immediate failure, but it contributes to a general lack of confidence which makes it even harder to get up the courage to make the first move in the future. Meeting people in person has advantage over the internet in this area.

My first move at a bar, club, or Souplantation (RQ tip: Asians love the Souplantation), is eye contact. If the guy looks away, or makes a face, or whatever, I’ve clearly been rejected… but, my commitment to that relationship was just a look, I didn’t do nearly enough to expose my intentions or become vulnerable.

You don’t want to look at me?  Well, I didn’t even mean to look at you!  I was just looking around the room, and my eyes accidentally panned across your face. In fact, I reject you! How dare you think I had even the remotest interest.  You disgust me!

Fragile ego, intact.

Online though, the first move is to send a message.  Before you have the chance to gauge any interest from the other person, you’re already totally exposed.  Even if you just say “hey,” or send a “poke” or a “wink” or whatever other creepy trademarked term your dating site uses, you might as well be admitting: I read all about you and looked at all your pictures. I think you’re hot enough, smart enough, funny enough, and rich enough to meet, date, non-legally marry, legally remarry when the laws change, and raise adopted African babies with. And I know that last sentence ended with a preposition but “with whom I could raise adopted African babies” sounded pretentious and I don’t want you to think I’m pretentious.  I want you to like me! Love me! PLEASE DON’T REJECT ME!

All defenses down. Fragile ego ready to be crushed.

This is what my friend was getting tired of, and it’s also why I always feel bad when white guys message me. They’re usually nice, have clever profiles, and are objectively good looking, but just not my type.

Thanks for the “poke,” but this does nothing for me.

The ideal match for a rice queen like me is a potato queen.  A potato queen is my exact opposite, and while I’m not exactly flattered to be compared to a lumpy, amorphous, starchy tuber, fighting the terminology isn’t going to get anyone laid, so I’m past it. Because while my Asian friend may get stonewalled by these online potato queens, for me it’s PWC to the max.

But aside from potato queens, there is another label that exists for certain gay Asian men — sticky rice.  These guys primarily like other Asians, and I’ve certainly had my confidence blown at their rejection (and not in the good way).  These guys are the forbidden fruit of rice queens.

Can I at least watch?

Nobody likes rejection and nobody likes wasting valuable flirting time on something guaranteed to fail.  So I think more people should embrace these labels, not in a judgy way, but for the sheer efficiency of it all.

Amongst the options for age, religion, and other unimportant crap, online dating sites can include a category to choose a preference label: rice queen, potato queen, sticky rice, chubby chaser, bean queen, dairy queen, chocolate queen, size queen, or hummus queen. Check one, check none, check them all, fill in the blank! You’ll attract what you’re looking for much more easily, and you’ll spare a lot of shattered egos for the guys who never had a chance.

Because if you live in a world without any labels, you just might end up eating pear-tunafish salad, and nobody wants that.

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