Eventually became fed up and got off apps, and continue to put little effort in online dating. I recall the first few months being app-less, going out more with friends, not looking to hook-up, or even find Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet—just interacting with the gay community IRL to see what would or could happen. But even offline here in "progressive" Vancouver, the attitude towards gay Asian men is disappointingly reflective or a result of treatment received online.
The one that still stands out for me to this day was when I met a guy through a friend, who I eventually asked out for coffee. When we were leaving, he said to me that he wasn't looking for anything more than being friends; that he was a no rice, no spice kinda guy when it came to intimate relationships. A phrase that is typically used online was said to me in-person with such casual bravado, and I was basically left speechless until after the fact where I thought of many worthwhile responses. This is a very blunt example of how online discrimination can be felt in real life, because as I spoke to other gay Asian men in Vancouver for this story they all touched upon that even though racism towards Asians is so upfront online, they've felt it in real life on a more subtle, but just as hurtful, level.
For this reason, Alex, a year-old writer and first generation Chinese-Canadian said it makes discrimination more difficult to process and confront.
If anything it's more subtle, more ambiguous," he told me. But I'll notice, for example, white guys checking out other white guys.
The way Asians are treated online informs Alex's reasons for feeling less desired. He says questions his own physical attractiveness in the eyes of white men, or wonders if he never catches a glance from someone simply because he's Asian. All the time. Either way, feeling invisible is the norm for me," he said. Because of this, Alex dissociates himself from gay communities, keeping to himself and not going out much.
The other result is feeling too visible for being Asian, exoticised or objectified for your race. Because of this, I was weary with talking to guys in real life, worrying that they didn't care who I was as a person, but instead only about how Asian I am.
And I found this apprehension to be shared among others. For example if a guy comes on to Kevin, he admits to also questioning whether it's because he is Asian or if the guy is interested in him as a person, regardless of race: It's tricky trying to understand your worth as a gay Asian man, or any person of colour, when the gay community can be so dominantly focused on the oh-so-desirable Adonis-bodied white man.
The way gay Asian men can be spoken to or ignored online causes some second-guessing in interactions with white men, especially when it comes to being more than friends. It works the other way as well, where being associated with a gay Asian is seemingly taboo. I spoke to Daniel, a year-old second generation Chinese-Canadian who works in social justice, who shared his experience of the early stages of dating a man.
He was that sort of dangerous beauty with a knack for knowing just what I dreamed about. In retrospect I should have guessed: He reminded me of a friend from college who had studied Chinese and Korean, practiced Chinese calligraphy, trained in tae kwon do, and dated Korean women almost exclusively. A friend who'd once said to me, I'm half-Korean, too. Just, inside.
On one of our first dates, he came over to my apartment and told me about the books I'd just been given by my grandfather, the jokbo for our family. I'm the oldest male in my generation, the 42nd, and by Korean tradition, we are given them.
The books are kept in an antiquated Chinese script, and I am unable to read them, but he could read them. It was the sort of thing that shamed me regularly for the sort of upbringing I'd had—my father had committed us to assimilation and had not wanted us to speak Korean. He had died when I was young, though, and the language gap left us estranged from his family afterward. In , we were putting these connections back together—I had just gone to Korea with my family that summer, and my grandfather had given me these books.
But there was still so much no one had ever taught me. I practiced it as he watched and corrected me. Roses re-emerging all through the garden.
I think it's cursed there, that rose. There's no record anywhere of what I can now see the dream was about: I knew what rice queens were, and they didn't usually go for me.
When I worked at A Different Light bookstore in the Castro in s-era San Francisco, I remember selling them copies of OG magazine—short for "Oriental Guy"—these men fantasizing about the sex trips they took to Asian countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, all of them in search of smooth young Asian men living in precarious economic conditions who were willing to do things sexually for, well, probably less than the cost of the magazine, in order to survive.
I had also been to the gay bars in San Francisco for Asian men, to discover they were for Asian men looking for white men and vice versa. As someone who was half, I was just exactly not enough of what each type wanted—exactly enough to be invisible to them or at least not eligible as desirable. They still walk by me sometimes, these mixed Asian and white gay couples, and I smile as both men seem to project their insecurities on to me, holding hands a little tighter as they walk by. As a result, I gave up on the idea that I would ever end up dating either kind of man—the gay white man who liked Asian men was likely not ever going to ask me out.
I remember dancing with a white man once at a club, and he reached over and pulled my shirt front down to reveal my hairy chest. He looked shocked and then turned and left the dance floor, not even a good-bye, like I'd lied to him about the goods. I like Asian men, he said, after this confession. It's why I lived in Japan, why I studied Japanese. I tried to imagine it.
Having an erotic imagination so focused on one race of people. All that my ex-boyfriends had in common was me.
On Andrew left: The only time it comes up is when I meet with locals. A phrase that is typically used online was said to me in-person with such casual bravado, and I was basically left speechless until after the fact where I thought of many worthwhile responses. Events that start after Read More. Thank you for the primer on my family; until now, everything I knew about them came from their mouths.
Questions I didn't ask ran through my head. Were you even gay if this is what your sexuality was? What was your sexuality if it was based on race and not gender preference? Especially if you were white?
He vanished after that conversation.