I didn’t think releasing one episode on the queer Asian American experience could be justified as having enough content that’s representative of the LGBTQIA Asian/Asian American community, so I’m making a return to share more of such narratives - this time, the interview will be from perspectives of two fellow Smith College alumna friends of mine: Samantha and Shay. As you can tell from the title, we’ll be sharing our thoughts on why we need to break down heteronormative expectations from romantic relationships and and begin normalizing queerness instead.
Sam is a 1.5 generation Taiwanese-American who recently made it to her third decade. She isn’t into labels which is why if she had to pick, it would be some all-encompassing one like “queer” or “depends on the day”. She’s currently a professional student working on her Ph.D. at Tufts University in neuroscience. Her hobbies include fantasy football, drinking bourbon and making lists. Her life goals include feeling like an adult one day.
Shay is a Boston transplant originally from Long Island that is currently working in the fast paced world of Digital Marketing. She enjoys trying new restaurants, bringing in baked goods for her coworkers, planning elaborate themed dinner parties and hanging out with her nieces and nephews as much as possible. A current activity is wedding planning which is both equally exciting and anxiety inducing. Her goal in life is to have a happy home with lots of space and nice things that serves as a central point for friends and family to flock to.
TRANSCRIBED BY THOA HOANG
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NGUYEN: Hi, welcome to Project Voice! We're in season three now and I am so happy to have here two of my fellow alumni friends. I met them at a Smith College reunion event and it's just really cool to have them here and expand on a topic that I’d actually covered before. I know that back in Season One I touched upon what it was like growing up as a queer Asian-American woman with my friend Angela and I felt like there were so much more to explore on this topic. Like, really I could dedicate a whole series on it. But yeah, I wanted to go back to it again with Samantha and Shay here. Before we dive into my questions, I'm gonna have them introduce themselves, and... how do you identify yourselves, and how did you two meet, and all that jazz?
SAMANTHA YOU, INTERVIEWEE: Yeah, okay well I'm Sam (LAUGH) I'm a grad student right now at Tufts and I grew up in this area. I was born in Taiwan but I moved here when I was one and a half so I'm very American, basically. And I don't really feel like, I have a label I identify myself with. My long-term relationships have been with women but I don't, I don't know. I think if I had to pick one, I would choose queer but I don't really pick one so… that’s me.
SHAY KARIM, INTERVIEWEE: Hi, I'm Shay. I work in digital marketing here in Boston. I grew up on Long Island. My parents immigrated here from East Africa, but I was born here. In terms of identity, I feel like it just kind of changes over the years. I've dated people, you know, both men and women so ,yeah. I think it's, it just shifts, like depending on the day.
NGUYEN: Did you two meet at Smith College or did you know...
KARIM: Oh yes, yes, yeah. We met at Smith through someone I was friends with dating. She was friends with Sam and so that's how I met Sam.
YOU: Yeah, so that was like nine years ago now. We just celebrated our nine-year anniversary.
NGUYEN: Ah! Congratulations! Yeah that was an interesting point you made there, how the term queer is... you know, like not everybody identifies themselves as queer. That's- although many people see it as an umbrella term or as like a politicized term that people use to gather, bring people together and create solidarity and it's all great but you know, you know, it's like a choice to use that word. And it's interesting because I guess for me starting out, I never identified myself as queer. Like, while exploring my sexuality, I was like, oh, well, I like all people of all genders really, you know. I see people as people and I don't really like, you know, like a person based on their what sex organs they have and what sex organs they don't have. To me, it's kind of weird, I know it's, it's just a weird thought for me,;it's just like for me if I like a person I like them for their personhood, and yeah and I don't really think too much about what type of people I like. But you know, I guess I started out identifying as a pansexual because I mean just that's what I learned like by definition, you know. If you like everybody, that it is. And then I started talking more with my friends about who strongly identifies as queer and how, and then that's when I started becoming, started using that term more and more and it was just interesting you know, like hearing how everyone uses it differently and yeah, I wanted to, I mean I know it’s not part of the question list but, I’m curious to know like… (LAUGHS)
KARIM: It's funny that you ask that though because in terms of like identifying myself, I feel like it only comes up like when I start a new job or something like they find out that I'm engaged to a woman, I feel like that's the only time it comes up otherwise; it's not really something that I think about actively.
KARIM: And I feel like, I mean, once people hear and like my partner is a woman, they like ,oh yeah, you are a lesbian. It's kind of weird to be like, no, actually I have this is the long, convoluted thought process behind who I like in terms of sexual orientation and stuff like that. And I suppose it's like very millennial to not want to pick anything but, I just I don't know I haven't really bonded with any of the labels. But I do appreciate the place for labels in terms of fighting for rights and things like that because it's important to be able to put names on things. Because it just makes things easier to explain to people who aren't familiar. So, I see the value of it I just personally have never felt right with any of the labels that are available
NGUYEN: Yeah, also my issue, really, with labels sometimes is that when we label ourselves. people see them as solely as that label. That one side, that one identity. I was creating, working on this video project and it was exploring how yeah, there's a lot of issues within communities who are people who like, who don't lead a heteronormative life, and you know, if you don't live a heteronormative life, you're seen as different and then you're defined by who you like, you are defined by what you're who you're attracted to. And there's so much more to a person you know than that. And then they just forget about it. And you know, like sexuality is definitely a very, very important topic to discuss but at the same time it's like, there's more to us. And onward to my next question. Can you share with me what your story and what it's like to go up Asian American? And what your family's views are towards the LGBTQIA culture or you know?
KARIM: So, my parents are both Muslims from Africa, so it was definitely not something I was looking forward to talking to them about. But I think we were dating for a couple years and...me and my dad have always been really close and I think he's kind of suspected something was going on ‘cause this was back when I was still on my dad's cell phone plan and so he saw that I was like, talking to someone a lot and really late at night and so he was like, what's going on? And, so you know, I told him that I'm dating someone that I met at Smith and he did not handle it well at all. Yeah, I think it was like really scary I think I just said it to test the waters and see where we were, because I think at least when you're growing up and like, sharing other people's stories, they always say like, oh, it's really really bad at first but then it gets easier, and gets your parents and they'll understand. So, I think I just wanted to believe that it would be that easy and just see what happens even though I knew after telling like some of my siblings...that, they were just really nervous for me. So yeah, so that was like the initial time and then at some point he was… just he was, just calling me all the time and telling me like he was really worried that I was going to hell. It was just like, constant like, phone calls and texts; he's just, he was not doing well, like my siblings and my mom was like, what's going on with him. So, I told him that we broke up because I just couldn't handle it anymore. I was like, I need a break from this. So, I told Sam, she's obviously not happy with it.
YOU: Because we didn't break up.
KARIM: And then I think a couple of years later, he kind of knew that we didn't actually break up. And that you know, we were together and you know ,that I really wanted him to support me and still be close with me because I really loved him and we have always been really close, so I was just trying to give him some time and space to come to terms with it. And then for my mom, I actually didn't tell her until after we got engaged...so I think that was like eight years later.
NGUYEN: Oh my gosh, wow; that was long!
KARIM: Yeah,I think she kind of knew. I think Mom always kind of knew something’s up and I just wasn't interested in getting married and meeting people. Like she's, like constantly trying to set me up with other like brown dudes to be like what about this person? I was always like oh no no no no so I think she kind of knew something was up. She also did not take it very well; she cried a lot. So a lot of crazy stuff, but... in the long run I started just going to therapy and I tried to figure out a way to move forward with my life with or without their approval and I think the fact that I have stopped going on the family trips and would not attend family events without Sam, I think that shook them a little bit to be like, okay, we actually like- things have to change and just go about status quo like this. And it it worked! This past Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving I brought Sam to. We all rented a house away from like my house and their house, so I think it was good to have neutral territory to kind of bring everyone together. So ,all my siblings were there with their husbands and wives and children and my parents were there and like ,it actually went really well.There was no big crazy anything which I thought was definitely gonna happen the first time we're all together and we were engage. But no, it was like, a wonderful weekend.
NGUYEN: Oh, that’s so cute.
KARIM: We were both like, oh yeah. This is a montague, oh my gosh. Okay if things go to shit, we can just bust out of there and drive back.
YOU: But her parents were really nice to me and they hugged her a lot. My family is not physically affectionate so I was like, “What is this?“ But it was really nice yeah.
KARIM: I know we were both like whoa, like we were just like waiting for the other shoe to drop the whole time. It didn’t happen. My dad was really nice. My mom gave us a bunch of food to take home, which is like the sign of you know like a brown mother, like, we are okay with this, here is some food.
NGUYEN: Yes, giving food is the like the universal sign of love.
NGUYEN: I mean, I wasn't saying didn't work out at least Thanksgiving dinner gonna get people sleepy eventually, and then yeah, they would just pass out. (LAUGHS)
YOU: Yeah, definitely, I think it was because we had our own room, too, that made us feel a lot better than we had our own space - just the two of us to run away in case, like we were feeling anxious, yeah.
NGUYEN: That's smart! So, yeah anyone out there who's listening, you know what to do.
KARIM: Definitely invest in a good therapist.
NGUYEN: What was I gonna say? Well, ya think the whole… I'm not at that stage or I don't know whether I'll be at that stage yet, but the whole...
KARIM: I mean it was a long time.
NGUYEN: Nine years; that's long and the fact that your mom only knew after 8 years. That's an achievement there, hashtag goals you know.
KARIM: I know it... I feel so much better in life now that that's all over, ‘cause it looks like you don't really realize how much is weighing down on you all the time.
NGUYEN: Mm-hmm, I guess coming out is really tough; I mean, you know, the terms coming out, even like, some people see it as all something, you know, like as a chapter that they have to get through in life, but then there are others who never think of it, like, never intend to reveal their relationship or their sexuality or you know whoever they're seeing ever. That thought never occurred to them and I think to me personally, like, I don't really plan out when or where you know it's gotta happen - ike if they find out, it's you know I'm just gonna let it happen. If they find out they find out and you, know I'm just gonna let it be and sort of just tak in whatever their reactions are, really. And I think the whole idea coming out does really cause a lot of anxiety and stress. And you know it's a lot.
KARIM: You have to have a really good reason, to set a date, and actually do it. You know, mine was like, I was gonna get married and obviously couldn't do that without my parents knowing, I could, but it would be like really shitty of me. You need a really good reason I think personal to..
NGUYEN: Yeah, interesting how my parents react differently to my question. I asked my dad, “Oh so let's say, theoretically however, hypothetically, like your daughter - not saying that she is- but if you find out that your daughter is gay or likes women too, like what would you do? And for him, he was like, “Oh, I mean that's fine with me. I’m fine with that as long, as you graduate from college, as long as you get a job and can take care of yourself, do what you want.” Wow, I was so surprised; like for me, yes, yeah, that's like a very progressive.
YOU: That’s very encouraging.
NGUYEN: Okay, that is good to know, Dad. And then on the other hand, like, I was asking my mom about this. Now and then, I would sort of try to hint it to her in a teasingly way. I’d go, “Yeah, men are so tiring, and you know. Like why… you know, why do we have to do so much shit with them, isn’t it better to fall for girls, you know?” (YOU LAUGHS) And then like after hearing that my mom just automatically turns her head, just said, “What did you say?” She's like, “Don't say that. I mean, yes, there are very shitty men out there, but you have to hope there are a few good ones. But I asked her straightforwardly like, “Mom ,what if it turns out that your daughter likes someone who's not a man?” And she automatically said, “I would cry.” And I was like, “Seriously?” (LAUGHS)
KARIM: For some reason, I think Asian moms like take it really hard ‘cause they think like, it's something that they did. Over and over and over. My mom aside. “What did I do?” Not just to me but to my siblings and really this has nothing to do with you. You know like, it's just I don't know for some reason they think it's something that they did.
NGUYEN: Yeah or they think it's a sickness or an illness...
KARIM:: Yes .
NGUYEN: And that they can treat and yeah, it's not...
KARIM: Something definitely went wrong. Yeah, like, with my dad, he was just- he's just very religious so he was just very concerned that I was definitely going to hell and he was like trying to do everything that he could to prevent it. So, his was more rooted in something.
NGUYEN: Mm-hmm, yeah. Sam, would you like to share?
YOU: So, I had a girlfriend and at the end of high school and into my first year of college and we broke up and so, I was like very mopey the summer after. And at some point during that summer I actually, I had told my dad, I was like, oh by the way, we were dating and now we're not. And he was just like, didn't really say anything. It was fine, like whatever. I've never been particularly close with my parents so we're kind of, like a lot of things are kind of Don't Ask Don't Tell. When when you have to like. obviously like fine, but I think that's the kind of relationship we have. So they kind of left it there and then but when I started dating Shay, I was, I don't know, she had just graduated from Smith, and I was a year under her so I had a whole year left in college and so Shay was like moving up to Boston that summer and I was like, gonna spend a lot of time over at her place or just like, not at home and so, at that point told my mother that I was dating a woman and she, she was just kind of like, “Um, are you sure?” And I was like, “Yeah.”
YOU: Well, you're gonna have to work like, twice, twice as hard at everything in life. It's like, a very typical thing for my parents to go towards, I think. And I was like, yeah, okay. And so I had really thought that she had known before that ‘cause like, every once in a while, she would like- some weird comment. It would come out about gay related things. She'd be like, “Oh., I have a gay cousin,” and they're being like no context so that's like a little confused but then when I told her, she actually seemed legitimately surprised.
KARIM: Which is super weird and something that I think is really common for immigrant parents like we've heard this a lot you have to come out multiple times. Like, they forget or they compartmentalize it somewhere else and then you're like, “No. Like, I definitely told you. This isn’t new news.”
YOU: Yeah, in the intervening years they have met Shay and interacted with her a bunch and then but it was, it was weird ‘cause during that time, she would be like my friend or like I, I don't know. It's like they knew but they didn't want to act like they knew, which was weird. But then when we, before I proposed, I had to I had dinner with my parents and I was like oh... by the way, we're gonna get engaged soon. And it's like almost eight years together and they've known the entire time. I shouldn't have been shocking, Oh but... I don't know, my mom was like super shocked. Like my dad was like fine, or whatever but, I don't know, my mom was- we were in a restaurant and my mom was like, really getting really emotional like, not saying things but you could tell we're not like, I don't know. We don't talk about our feelings to each other much so that's how I knew she was sad or mad or something. But I, at that point, I was like, I don't really understand why, ‘cause it's not like it could have been a surprise; it's like not out of nowhere and then since then, we've just kind of, we've never talked about it again. (LAUGHTER) Like Shay said, I think it's just something like, until they can absolutely not avoid it, they're gonna try and avoid it.
NGUYEN: Yeah, it sounds like engagement is like a reality check for them or...
YOU: Yeah, they had to actually be like, “Oh yeah, this is a thing…”
KARIM: Like, it’s not a phase.
NGUYEN: That's what a lot of parents like to think. That it's a phase. They'll get through it and yeah, you know, they'll go back to the normal heteronormative life and you know, that's not how it works. You can't reverse it! There’s no point of return, just kidding! It’s like eight years in and what do they expect? :ike you just... I don't know so it was interesting. Yeah, some of us don't really know how to repeat the message or I just, get a message like, really solidified and you know until- do you have to wait until marriage to let them know? You know?
KARIM: I don’t think so? I don’t know. I mean, I had told my parents, yeah, years ago. You know, I think it wasn't until ‘cause after we got engaged that kind of, like, told my dad again just to emphasize that this is happening. And he, it was like the most rational and clear-headed I've ever had, like talking about this subject with him and I think it was because he talked to someone else about it. I think parents, even if you tell them, they probably don't want to talk about it, so they don't talk to anyone else about it, even each other. And it was like very clear that he talked to someone else about it ‘cause he was like, “You know, you're my daughter. I love you. You're doing well and I want you to be happy.” And he was kind of like, joking, “I'm not gonna say I support you because you know for religious reasons I can’t but I'm happy that you're happy.” So it was huge and I was like, I've never, like- I never heard him talk that clear-headed and it was a very adult conversation that like. I was just, whoa.
NGUYEN: Yeah, you brought up a really good topic or a good leeway here that I actually had a conversation with Angela a couple times before and it was religion, about religion and how religion really can be divisive sometimes, especially when your family feel so strongly or affiliate themselves so strongly to a certain religion. And in a way, for my friend, she identifies herself as Christian but in her Asian Christian community- like she finds it difficult to bond with other fellow Asian and churchgoers because they... you know, she gets these weird comments from old ladies who go to church and let me introduce you to this guy and so, and so you know, and she's like, I don't want to be introduced to anyone here that's awkward because the church is like, literally a space for a community to grow and to foster and people meet and socialize there. I guess, sometimes, she doesn't feel like she belongs with the rest of the Asian community and she doesn't feel like she can... or others see her differently because she identifies as queer. And it's frustrating figuring out how you balance between your relationship with your religion and your relationship with yourself and your relationship with your family. So all of that, yeah.
YOU: So, to be honest I mean I grew up going to church when I was younger and then we kind of stop as I got older. And now, I actually don't find myself in communities with other Asian Americans very often. And actually, for that matter, I don't find myself in communities with other gay lesbian queer people that often. Most of our friends are like, umm, they are White, upper middle class like, young professionals. Like, we live a really average life in that regard, I feel. And part of the reason, I wanted to do this was ‘cause I know when I was younger, I often was trying to search for communities that I feel part of and it's like, the LGBT community. It's- you don't always feel like you jive with them quite as much because it's- if you have a very a westernized upbringing and that's what you know, like, you don't have the same conflicts like I have as an immigrant, basically. And so, it was really hard as you know there are a few examples of movies or whatever that actually depict non-white characters in gay relationships. And so, that's why I kind of wanted to tell Shay and I to do this because I think it is really important for other young people of color, basically, to have these stories to listen to and know that these people do exist and I don't know, we do live our normal boring lives.
KARIM: We do lead a boring normal life, but it was kind of what I always wanted. You know like, that’s why I wanted to get married, like my siblings are all married, and I always wanted to get married and so.., I don’t know, I think we are fine being like, boring people.
YOU: And you like, separated yourself from your religious upbringing pretty much... so I mean yeah, religion doesn’t really play a role in our lives very much.
KARIM: But that's just because I just don't I never really felt very connected to religion, it felt very forced on me and chore and actually all of my siblings aren't very religious. Mostly, just my parents. I think it kind of, goes back to what you were saying to you, though, that being gay - it's not like the only thing that we are and it's sometimes it feels a little forced when we try.
YOU: We need like, more gay friends
KARIM: When we try to go to these mixers, there's so much more. There are so many other traits about you that it's like, hard to connect with someone based solely on that.
NGUYEN: Yeah, that's so true that there's more to us and yeah, the fact that you know there aren't as many narratives of queer people color out there, queer Asian narratives out there, so it's- I thought it was really important to stress on that and I see it more and more, you know, from my fellow millennial friends who are very active in the social justice scene and it's just, you know, to me it seems really common like, while wow, it's there. But in reality, it wasn't always that case; like you said, it was very few before and seeing how there's just a shift to more awareness about different marginalized groups out there who haven't gotten their voices out yet, like, finally being heard; it's such an achievement and it just makes me feel proud to know we've come, you know, we've come a great deal and there's still a lot more to go. But then I also had... I wanted to say something else besides that - oh yeah, looking at my social circle, I don't really actively think about what my friends are. Right? Like I click with them, I click with them. I'm like yeah, many of our friends are Asians and there's no surprise because there's a lot of cultural common grounds that we share and yeah, we talk about issues that we face within our community but not all my friends are gung-ho about social justice although a good number are, but it only hit me recently that I had queer friends. Like, oh wow, she's queer. She's queer. She's queer, and it's not really we talk about it like it's important to our our lives, our identity, but we don't really like...
YOU: It's just a part of who everybody is ,I don't know.
NGUYEN: Yeah, it’s just how we roll and if it comes up, it comes up. There you go, yeah.
YOU: No, I will say that it's like, helpful to have obviously, friends from different parts of you because you don't have to explain so much. Like if I have a, one of my good friends in grad school; she had a very similar upbringing and it's like, you don't have to explain why your parents are crazy about like, grades or whatever, you know. I feel the same way is like, dating Shay ‘cause we both have immigrant families. We don't have to,we don't have to explain to each other that part, cultural differences of being in between, different cultures being American versus being like for me being Taiwanese and for you being whatever, African, Indian, like...
NGUYEN: So now having listened to the queer Asian proud episode what are some topics though you would like to add into our discussion for today? What is a message that you feel hasn't been touched yet before but needs to get out here for others to know? I feel like, maybe you already have touched it because we've touched so much, but like, just putting it there just in case there are other things you want to talk about.
YOU: I think the only thing is, I'm a really strong proponent in people coming out. I think, as you said, like now you seem to know a lot more queer people, and that's only because people have come out and that helps everybody, basically and it's obviously very complicated in its personal decision and it’s who you come out to its different levels of coming out and like, whatever. But just making that choice to stand up for yourself in that way is, I think, extremely important for personal happiness but also just helping the world become a better place, basically, in my opinion.
KARIM: Yeah! Like having it be like not a big deal, it's like, not a big deal anymore. Like, we don't really actively have a lot of gay friends, but a lot of our friends that are maybe dating men now have dated women and it's like, they're still queer. We don't think of them actively as lesbians because they’re really dating men right now but it's the same. People don't adhere to labels as much anymore and it's so it's like not a bill deal anymore.
YOU: Yeah, I just want to live in the world or it's like it's not shocking like, “Oh you're dating a man now. Your ex is a girl, like whatever”
KARIN: I think it's only older people that feel that way. Because I just started a new job and most of the people I work with are young and I thought. “Oh yeah ,my fiance. She blah blah and they didn't react the same way as older people have. “Oh what? You?” And they're just like, “Oh yeah. Okay, cool.” So ,I have some hope for the future, future generations.
NGUYEN: Yes, yes, I have hope, too.
NGUYEN: Yeah made a really good point, normalizing this part of our identity. There like gender or…
YOU: Or vegetarians!
NGUYEN: Yeah, you know vegetarian has become a norm, too. You know, I'm just like, "Oh, you're vegetarian? Okay, cool story."
KARIM: We're like paleo or something like, "Oh, okay." You have a preference but it's not like, your whole life. It's part of you. This is a preference, yeah.
NGUYEN: True, It's more common. Queerness is more common than we think and obviously we see it here. Like, it's queerness is everywhere and it's not just queerness and sexuality; it's also gender; it's queering life really just… people nowadays just try to be out of the box and identify them outside of the box and they're more comfortable expressing their unique selves. I think nowadays everyone's trying to be different. It seems like everything is really, or they take pride in their differences versus in the past, more people were just felt more comfortable sharing similarities or conforming to ideals or images or how they present themselves. And let's see, look at my next question: as someone who identifies as queer and sometimes with my friends who are also Asians or Asian Americans, they'll feel uncomfortable about breaching the subject of queerness and sexuality and sometimes that made me uncomfortable for me and for me as someone who is very confident and out with my identity how do you go about negotiating that space? That is a question my friend Angela would like to ask you.
KARIM: I think the problem is that we don't really hang out with a lot of people... that are fellow queer Asians. Yeah, yeah, most of our friends are White or Latino. I don't think we hang out with a lot of Asians.
YOU: Yeah, but I guess I don't get into extended conversations on the day to day basis because that's, that would be weird. But if I bring Shay up, I bring Shay up in casual conversation as like, I would bring anyone that I was dating for a long time in casual conversation. Actually it's been a really long time since anyone's even made any comments directly about that, I can remember a few times people be like, I don't know, they'll show like surprise or whatever but it's actually been a really long time and I think as you do it more often, it just becomes a lot more casual to you and your vibe rubs off and the person you're talking to, too, and like if everyone treats it like, it's like, just not weird. (LAUGHS)
KARIM: Like, that's true the delivery of it. Sometimes I'm like aaaand I'm dating a woman! Like if you make it kind of a big deal.
YOU: Do you say that?
KARIM: I don’t know… No, not like that. Like how you bring it up, how you say and sometimes also depends on your audience. I found personally, that if it's like older people or they, the older generation and they take it differently then like our generation and younger.
YOU: Yeah. I think I just I slipped in like my partner and I blah blah, I mean they're hetero-couples that use the word term partner, but it's so gender neutral that people often kind of just like, “Oh, whatever.” It's kind of like a way of signifying something without actually having to get into it.
NGUYEN: It’s like, oh, yeah. Like you said before, it's not making a big deal out of it. It’s like casually bringing it up as it goes. Just trying to normalize the space by being ourselves.
YOU: I mean it's, really I think it does require you to know yourself. You have to be a little bit confident about who you are as a person because I'm like thirty now - sort of like years of trying to exist. But when I was younger, it would be in my head a lot. Be like, oh, do I mention like, I’m dating a women? Do I not mention, or do...i t took a really long time for me to get somewhere where likem I don't think about it at all. I'm just like, yeah whatever. And I mean, it takes time but I think if you work on it, it's definitely possible to just have it not be so hard and you don't have to think about it actively all the time, eventually. Just practice, basically.
NGUYEN: At the same time, I guess it really depends on where you are.
KARIM: I’m just gonna say we're coming at it from the other side so I think it's easier in hindsight.
YOU: And we have lived in Massachusetts.
NGUYEN: And not the South where it's harder and other people might make a big deal out of it or they bully them, like they get caught up from the bullying, they get caught up with being identified like, just one part of their identity and that's unfortunate. I guess, it really depends on the environment, too, and but at the same time, it's a journey, having to grow that strong sense of self oh… I guess it takes 30 years to get there!
YOU: I also advocate for therapy.
KARIM: Therapy and just work really hard to get out of your parents house or your chap… you know, get your own safe space where you can like, feel good about just being open and being yourself because I think that really helps.
NGUYEN: I agree, I agree a lot on that, like creating that distance. So, what are some takeaways that you would like our targeted listeners to take away from this episode
YOU: I mean, it seems trite but it does get better. You know, like, you can make your own community. You can find a place in the world and make it what you would like it to be. And I think with Asian parents, there's a psychological hold sometimes because at least, for my parents, it’s like everything they did was for their kids and it's kind of drilled into you a little bit and if everything they did was for their kids and you're supposed to do what your parents want because they've sacrificed a lot and like all that. But at the same time, I think if you remember, it's like you have one life and that's all you get so consider that you as you make decisions.
KARIM: Yeah, build a strong community. Get a therapist. Get your own place. I feel like all that helps and be patient. For me, it took a really long time to get here and a lot of confusion and a lot of pain and a lot of being scared of the unknown and what's gonna happen if you decide to live this life… but yeah, I don’t know. For me, I'm, I feel very lucky that it turned out well for me and I know it doesn't always so. Just like be in a good place, because you don't know what's gonna happen. You don't know how they're going to react so just like, you know build yourself up and when you're ready do it. Don't do it until you feel strong and ready to do it
NGUYEN: Yeah, that’s some very good wholesome messages out there that should be shout it out to the world and I'm glad that we're recording this. What are some resources and spaces that you would suggest our listeners to look into in terms of anything reallym that relates to the queer community?
YOU: I know that when I was younger, I really appreciated gay clubs and Gay Nights, you know, like things like that. Spaces where you can relax, basically. And I mean ,I know not everybody's into partying but I found that really helpful to be able to look around and be like, you're not alone! You're not alone and you don't have to worry about anything, for at least this, these few hours that you're there. And in terms of like, in Boston there's a lot of resources, like the Fenway Health Community Center. Like, they have a lot of, they have doctors and stuff like, if you're worried about getting a gay-friendly doctor or whatever. Oh, that's that's another thing I would say, find medical professionals [who] you trust that are gay friendly and things like that, so you can talk to them freely because a lot of gay people neglect their health a little bit because you're worried that your doctor, whoever, might judge you for who you are and that's just no good for you. So, I would say make the effort to do the research like where we live in the age of the Internet where there's tons of information.
KARIM: There's like Yelp reviews for doctors now, like these people are LGBT friendly yeah, so.
NGUYEN: Yeah, technology is on our side really in terms of providing information. Even with traveling even occur to me that that could affect your travels and how other people of other cultures perceive you and just going out there and then you know there are queer traveler groups, communities out there who are willing to give you advice on how to go about that and giving you advice on where to find those safe spaces and how to protect yourself in the real world. So, those are awesome, awesome responses. Thank you so much for taking your time out to share your stories and your thoughts and it really means a lot and I'm so glad that I got to go back to this topic again and really dive in on the queer Asian American experience and if you would like to give us any feedback or you know share us your thoughts, email us or email me, at email@example.com and you're also welcome to follow Project Voice on social media. We have a Facebook we have a Twitter @projectvoiceaaw. Yeah, thank you so much for listening and tune in next time. Bye!
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