I've been called a lot of things in my life. The standard pejoratives come to mind: faggot, Cocksucker, Chink... Commie chink. Although I took that last one more of a compliment, than anything else. But easily the most painful name came not from the homophobic jock or the drunken frat boy... It came from a lover.
It came tangled between bed sheets; heads buzzing with the freedom afforded by alcohol, he whispered softly in my ear, "You're perfect. My perfect little geisha boy." To this day, those words, which I'm sure were intended to make me feel treasured and beautiful, continue to haunt me.
Now, I have had my fair share of racially skewed relationships. In fact every substantial romantic relationship I've had has been with a rice queen. I had grown accustomed to questions asking where I'm from. Seeing their confused faces after I tell them "Washington D.C.", I have learned to always qualify this with "but my family is from China." I see their disappointment in learning that I don't speak my "native tongue," or that I have never been "back."
I had even become desensitized to the inane guessing games they would employ to infer my ethnicity. "Yeah, I get Korean a lot. It's my face," is my rote response.
I found myself feeling less like a person and more of an idea; an amalgam of expectations; a blur of tawny skin and slanted eyes. I had gotten to the point where when I walk into a bar, I immediately gauged myself against the other Asians in the room, because I know it is by this criteria on which I will be judged. They are not my friends, my comrades, my brothers in arms. They are my competition. They are the enemy.
At once I am caught in a vice of being required to captivate my prospects with my overt displays of ethnicity, yet cut off from those whom share this oppressive experience. Unable to form alliances for fear of cannibalizing our market, we are divided and conquered by the inevitability of economics.
I eventually reached an impasse; the proverbial back-breaking straw where I realized that I could no longer live in this colonial schema of rice queen and exotic object of affection. But in all of my personal and romantic experience, men who like Asian guys but are not rice queens either did not exist, or required too much vetting to be viable romantic prospects.
I realized a fundamental flaw in my equation: if we, gay Asians, continued to entrust gay white men with the keys to our eventual happiness, they would inevitably fail us. They are born into a culture in which systemic racism encourages widespread subjugation of nonwhite people.* Of course there are a select few who are able to resist this pervasive culture of appropriation and wholesale theft. But attempting to seek these individuals out, using our hearts as collateral, is simply too costly. I reasoned that the only truly revolutionary thing to do was to renounce the world of rice queens and go sticky rice. What a novel thought, gaysians dating gaysians.
I would renounce the code of beauty which casts us as undesirable, small-dicked, pansy geishas, incapable of fucking or owning our agency. Rather I would seek to escape the fundamentally imbalanced politic of inter-racial relationships, and find happiness in a world free from racial power disparity: with those of my own race.
to be continued...
*NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This post has been edited from its original form in response to the dynamic and spirited debate that has been drawn out from the Bilerico community. If you would like to read the original text, feel free to find it at Belowthebelt.org, which has retained the original text as a historical record.
(Crossposted to www.belowthebelt.org)