How Queer Korean Representation Helped Me Understand Who I Am—and What I Could Lose
I know that I’m living in a ticking clock, and all of this—dinners with my parents, peaceful conversations—will likely be gone one day.
it’s okay, it’s okay
Is everything okay? Should I call 911?No, it’s fineI just came out to her
With my family, I masked my indifference to boys with studying, using academics and SATs and college applications as reasons I “didn’t have time to date,” and it worked. Most Asian immigrant adults don’t have much to say to an adolescent who’d rather go home and study, who doesn’t sneak out to meet boys, who seems focused on her future and her ambitions.
a Are you a gay?
The Bible says homosexuality’s a sin; would you agree?if
YesBut I’m not acting on it!beact on
hey, I’m gay, who’d have thought?
I’ve always been a daydreamer, and I’ve always had an overactive imagination, but what I feel for her feels different. Her existence, her public presence, means something more to me. I knew, cognitively, that there were other gay Asian Americans out there, but I couldn’t really think of many, much less a lesbian Asian American, until I saw her. Her very existence made it okay for me to consider my own sexuality. There she was, an openly gay, successful, celebrated Asian American. And if I wanted to indulge in the fantasy of being with her, then I’d have to dispel my false identity as a heterosexual woman.
Isn’t she a gay?
You Googled her?
Of course. She’s a gay.
She’s also and
Are you a lesbian?Well, duh. Of course, I’m totally gay.
I am too tired, too raw and bruised, to want to fight about this anymore; not when I now know that I’m living in a ticking clock and this, all of this—dinners with my parents, quiet family gatherings, peaceful conversations—will likely be gone one day. Because I am a gay Korean kid with conservative Christian Korean parents, and I will lose my family by being fully who I am.
More in this series
Today tongzhi is seldom used in a political context, if ever: The Beijing LGBT center is called Beijing Comrade Center; 同志村, or comrade village, translates to gayborhood. So yeah, everyone knows what comrade really means—everyone except the president of China, apparently.
Trans people have rights because we’re human—not because we’re special. So why does having those rights recognized require a flood of trans tears?
For me, homosexuality is an invitation to opt out, to abstain from the trappings of heteronormativity, a gift of eternal boyhood.