Category Archives: Personal

Thoughts on Weekend

I’ve been meaning to see the film Weekend for a few years now and I just finished watching it. It’s a 2011 British film about two men who meet at a bar on a Friday night and share a profound weekend that stays with them.

The most intriguing aspect of the whole film was its dedication to realism. It almost feels like a documentary. The blueprint for 2013’s Blue Is the Warmest ColourThere is zero romanticized melodrama. No Hollywood shimmer. No love-lorn filters, no soundtrack, or any music to tie it all together. It’s all in the organic performances, the direction, the editing. (I would say the writing, but the actor said most of it ended up being improvised.) It’s as if someone decided to record their entire life with a camera and just happened to capture this one beautiful weekend with a man they had just met. It feels like real life captured on film. Even Blue had low key radiant cinematic vibes.

It raised a lot of questions for me as a gay, hopeless romantic. I identified with both characters’ personality wise. I’m confident, crass, and open in the way Glen was, but I’m also shy, romantic, and I have self doubts like Russell. I keep my private life private mostly because I’ve always been single.

When they first made eye contact with each other at the bar, Glen dropped his gaze and went to the bathroom. Russell followed him there. When I saw that, I thought “That’s me. That’s exactly what I do.” But not quite. It becomes evident that Russell followed Glen to pursue a hook up. I don’t follow men to the bathroom. I don’t follow men in the club hoping to hookup. I follow men because I want to initiate conversation with them and get to know them. When I see someone who catches my eye, I ponder the possibilities of their curiosity for me. I like to follow and see what happens, hoping they see my value. Maybe one of us would be brave enough to start speaking with the other.

Seeing how swiftly their relationship manifested over the course of a single weekend made me wonder if I would ever experience anything similar in my adult life. I know it’s not something I can muster, rather something I would have to experience and stumble into. Like Russell, I want to be in love. I want to be in a relationship. I believe standing up and proclaiming my love for a man is a radical act of love and a “fuck you” to naysayers.

I’m 24 years old, wondering why love is so elusive. I don’t go on dates because I’m not asked on any. In my experience, it never works out when I initiate and ask a guy out. Typically, the guys who make me want to initiate, are the ones I feel are out of my league— guys I feel like I need to prove myself to. It’s a subtle chase and overspending of energy, rather than a balance of mutual interest. When I’m asked out, there’s a comfort in knowing they’re interested enough in me to make the first move and see what else there might be.

I’ve been trying to stay in my own lane, work on myself, and just let it happen when it’s supposed to. But I still struggle with letting go. I’m slowly learning the art of patience, which to me means no more swiping, no more texting, no more making the first move. Move along and let him come to me. Weekend is a stunning film that shows how unexpectedly powerful a connection can be, even for just one weekend. Thank you for the beauty.

Today is my birthday

1-25-2016. I’m another year older. Another year clueless. But, I have a more tangible insight as to where my life is going and how I’m getting there. 2015 was not glamorous by any means (besides my trips to the Philippines and to Baltimore with my girls). In fact it was probably one of the worst years of my life, if not the worst. Contrast that to the previous year, 2014, which was undoubtedly the best year of my life. The year of travel, freedom, soulful luxury and wholeness. I felt more sure of my identity than ever before. My end to 2014 and beginning to 2015 were magical. I was able to spend time with some of the people who mean the most to me. For my birthday last year, I got to see some of them in the same room interacting with one another, meeting each other. I love bringing brilliant people together. People I believe in, people who believe in me. After they left I thought about what 2015 would bring; I never felt more unsure in my life. Regardless, I was elated by them caring enough for me to come together and celebrate.

In 2015, I experienced an arduous job searching stupor (still kind of am) which featured very promising interviews and interactions, but outcomes that were only semi-fruitful and not enough. I often felt choked betwixt the layers of reality and fantasy. Doubtful about choosing the necessary evils that would ultimately help me reach my dreams. For the record, I still plan on pursuing an acting career. Where and exactly when I will actively begin my journey is unknown to me (currently leaning towards NYC, who’s with me?). However, I am super close to paying off my student loans and once that happens, I immediately plan on saving enough money to seek the life my soul aches for.

Other things happened last year that I don’t wish to disclose as I don’t wish to reflect on them any further. But I’m praying to God that 2016 is much better. Please God let it be. I now know though, that we’re all on a journey together. I’ve come to realize that I need to constantly work at being who I want to be. It’s not a dream anymore. I’m not a kid in school. It’s become my concrete reality and my youth is gliding on the ice. One of my resolutions for the new year is to say yes to things, invitations, people, I normally would say no to. My world has been too controlled by me thus far. I want to broaden it and my experiences, the depths of my senses and relationships. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn.

Studying in Jerusalem taught me the importance of being open to opportunities. When I went to my first ever strip club in Tel Aviv, I initially refused because it wasn’t how I imagined my first experience to unfold. I was with two friends and we had just come from swimming in a gym pool- my hair was dry and unkempt, I was wearing the most basic jeans and a pull over hoodie. This was not how I wanted to feel or look entering a strip club for the first time! But I was convined to stay by one of my friend’s friends. As he introduced himself to me, he looked me right in my eyes and shook my hand, he kept his eyes on me and didn’t let go of my hand. I complained to him how crappy I looked. “You’re hot. You should see how the other guys look,” he replied. My jaw dropped on the inside and all of a sudden I felt ready to go 🙂

I guess this birthday blog post is basically about me using lessons I learned in 2014 and 2015 to guide my 2016. Which actually means I should relinquish some control. This year I want to work harder and stay more focused, but it’s time to let things happen! Let happiness happen. Let simplicity happen. Let love happen. Let friendship happen. Let boredom happen. Let it all happen. But then deal with it. Analyze it. Move on. Start over. 12 months to go. I hope I’ll see you there. xo

The Only Place For Me

I haven’t unpacked my things and I almost don’t want to. At least not yet. My clothes still carry the smell of the room we stayed in in my lola’s (grandmother’s) home. I know my memories will fade, as certainly as I know, the smell of my clothes will one day fade until next time. The truth is, I don’t want to be away from them. We say goodbye, we think see you later, then they’re on my Facebook timeline and in the back of my mind until one day out of the unpredictable blue my mom asks me if I want to go the Philippines. Could my answer ever be “No”? I wish we could go every year. My heart goes out to immigrants everywhere that wish to be with their families but cannot for whatever reason.

Smell is the closest sense tied to memory. I hope the day never comes that I would ever forget the smell of the Philippines, the different scents of my home and the air. We returned five days ago and my luggage still houses my clothes and keeps the familiar scents embedded in them and I am lovelorn. My wishes are pearls and my tears are crystals that I drop whilst praying for the safety, health, and happiness of us all. I wish I had dollars- mountains of dollars that I could share with everyone so that we would never worry. And dollars that I would keep so I could always visit. Dollars for the things we really need and some for the things we want. I’m always praying- just like Lola every morning. I don’t know what she prays for, but I hope she says some for me. And I’ll say some for her.

There is no full happiness and appreciation for life and beauty without them. I will always pray for us and I will always fight for all of their love, big or small, smothering or invisible, distant or close, silent or loud. My eyes are tired from all the water that’s poured out. We all make mistakes. Lord forgive me for the ones I’ve made, including not knowing how quickly everything would come and pass. Life was dandy when I was 5. But what was it like for everyone else? The adults in my family and the ones to be. Did they also have a candy view of life? We were all much closer when we were younger. Has the fact that we’re not as close or as young changed the way we feel? Or is this how getting older makes all adults feel, that responsibilities that come with age make life less sweet?

I drag things out to the very end. I don’t unpack. I don’t clean. I pack until the last minute. I hope my future partner will forgive me these things. If something impacts me, I’ll hold onto it and I don’t let myself forget about it. My family is irreplaceable. We’re unforgettable. We’re a force for good. You’ll never forget us. You’ll always remember. The silver stars will twinkle and the dogs will always roam. The hearts that I’m surrounded with will always be my home. With you, I could never be angry, I could never be hurt. My spirit wrapped in your tenderness all the times you washed my shirt. Pink sorbet New Jersey skies are pleasant and bring me to the present. They make me miss where I belong. Memories pure in soft rock songs, bouncing from the radio. I wish we didn’t have to go, that instead I’d say “See you tomorrow.”

The night we arrived in the Philippines I knew it would crush me to say goodbye. Out of all the times I’ve ever visited, this time hit me the hardest. I first visited when I was infant, around age one, then when I was five, when I was 10, when I was 13, 15, 21, and now. That place has got a big piece of my heart. I’m not the best that I could be, but I’m trying to be. You deserve it all and I honestly don’t deserve all the love you’ve given me. But thank you for loving us anyway. You’ve all inspired me to love the same.

Love always,
Me.

4.8.07

I do things deliberately. Some things that I do don’t make sense. But I like to imagine that there’s someone who does. Someone like you. I am lost oftentimes in the universe of understanding myself with my past and tracing where the energies have transferred. Rediscovering that I am not lost. Although alone, I have friends. People who finally understand the eccentricities of my fiery crackling character. But that doesn’t take away the loneliness. Of missing what it would feel like now to have your arms around me after all these years or your lips on mine. Your lips on mine. After all these years. Have you not forgotten me? Have you not found a new love? Maybe a husband. A wife. Something that isn’t me nor what I was meant to be for you. Or maybe.

Four years ago, they cursed our hearts and called us young.
Saying we don’t know what love is.
Love is me watching you, watching me.
Love is laughter over and over again.
It is the deep gratitude for your shelter and your rescue, as it is the ever flowing of tears.
Love is not uncertainty.
It is wild and reckless and sure of itself.
Love is not a flower.
Love is not a word.
Love is all encompassing.
Love is absolute but simple, beautiful, and dangerous.
We are never fully prepared for its touch.
Love is why I love you, to show you it exists.

8 years ago on this day was the happiest day of my life.
Here is the truth.

“Glee is about opening yourself up to joy”

2009

I started watching Glee during Season 2 when I was an 18 year old freshman at community college. Life was simpler then. Since I wasn’t living away for university, I would go to my classes every day and come back. I began watching Glee because I heard great things about it and I was also talking to a boy who was a big fan (I think he stopped watching after season 2 but I still thank him because his greatest contribution to my life was introducing me to Glee in the first place). Since I had no life outside of going to school and because I had plenty of free time, I wanted to invest it into following a new show. So I gave Glee a chance. As I discovered what it truly was, I fell so deeply in love and instantaneously became a fan.

Blaine

Glee has chronicled an entire five year era of my life post high school. From graduating high school in 2010 until the airing of last night’s finale on top of having graduated from university in January 2015. At the beginning of this era, I graduated high school without genuine friends. I didn’t go to prom because I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable. I wondered who I would be dancing and having fun with and who would be sitting at my table, because I never found my group of people. Then I started college in the fall, determined to start over with newfound confidence and feeling like I could run the world. Yet it would still be a while until I made friends like I had hoped. In the meantime, the characters of Glee became my friends, dear ones that accepted me for everything I was and am, which was everything I concealed from the people in my real life.

Glee was there when I was just beginning college and essentially only had myself. When I was growing into my sexual identity and young adulthood. When I was learning to be brave and proud of who I am. My worldview has been permanently influenced by the life lessons attained from Glee and I am incredibly proud of that. I am an absolute Gleek and will be forever. Being a Gleek has been to tied to my lifelong identity as a gay outsider, someone who never fit in, a weirdo, a loser, a theatre nerd, someone who was seen as inferior, but someone with so much love and passion for joy.

It is with complete and utter love that I bid Glee farewell. Saying goodbye to Glee is like saying goodbye to my friends– friends that have grown with me for the last five years. I wouldn’t be who I am without this show. I wouldn’t be as happy or as confident or hopeful about my life and the world were it not for Glee. I wouldn’t be seeing the world with as much colour as I do now. Thank you Ryan Murphy for creating a world full of love that I was blessed to feel part of. A world that kept my dreams alive. I honestly wish the series hadn’t ended just yet. I wish this last season wasn’t shortened. I wish there was another season after this one, or at least a spinoff so that I could still see everyone. Glee has taught me beautiful, invaluable things about being myself, the world, love, compassion, family, humanity, the arts, and the essence of performing. I cried so much during the finale that my eyes are still sore. As I watched all those beautiful final moments unfold, I realized exactly how large of an impact Glee has had on my life and everything that I’ve experienced the last five years. All my memories of watching Glee and its connection to my life ignited floods of cathartic sadness with the realization that it’s all finally over.

Klaine

Dear Glee, you have me as a fan for life and I couldn’t be more proud to be who I am because of you. I used to feel like such a loner, a loser, a girly dreamer with low self esteem. I hadn’t found myself in 2010. I was lost. I wasn’t true to myself. I wasn’t open to the sound of my own beat. I didn’t live life with a gleeful sparkle in my eyes. I was content to be hidden in the shadows of others, content to feel brushed by and unnoticed. But you gave me so much joy and helped me find my shine from the inside out. I will always sing your songs and I know they will always fill me with love. In the final words of Sue Sylvester:

“It takes a lot of bravery to look around you and see the world not as it is, but as it should be. A world where the quarterback becomes friends with the gay kid. Or the girl with the big nose ends up on Broadway. Glee is about imagining a word like that. And finding the courage to open up your heart and sing about it.”

Brava and farewell to the cultural phenomenon that is Glee.

2015

Good news! I’m STD Free!

Yesterday I faced one of the most nerve-wracking moments one could endure. I received my STD and HIV test results at a local clinic. I tested negative for everything, thank God, and thank you to everyone that sent me love and prayers during that whole process. Every time I find myself in that position of getting checked and being worried, I turn to my friends for support. The last time I was tested was August 2014 and I only had one partner between then and now. Nonetheless, I was still terrified about the possibility of contracting something, HIV in particular. As a member of the gay community, I still have that underlying fear towards AIDS. I’ve noticed that the LGBT community is more pro-active about sexual health and getting tested. Many of my LGBT friends have been tested before. But shockingly, many of my straight friends have never been tested even once. What I want to know is why isn’t there a larger discussion about getting tested? And why aren’t straight people as wholly pro-active?

For weeks on end, I developed an obsessive superstition to the numbers 2 and 11. When you take a rapid HIV finger prick test, if the result shows one line, you are negative for HIV. If the test shows two lines, you are positive for HIV. Thus I became heavily wary of those numbers and any sign of doubling. When I looked at a clock and there was a 2, I would keep looking back at the clock until it was no longer there. Whenever I did my Insanity workout, I wouldn’t look at the screen if I knew there were two seconds left. If the time displayed double digits like 7:44, I looked away as quickly as I could. Looking at the pause button worried me. Ironically, when I stepped into the room where I was tested, the person who tested me noticed an extra chair in the room. “Why do I have two chairs in here?” he wondered. After taking one of them to the side, he said “I have two garbage cans too.” Two, two, two, I thought.

My mind had been plaguing itself since my hookup in December. Underneath everything I was experiencing, Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, looking back at the semester, re-igniting my love for the Walking Dead and catching up on Glee, my fear of HIV lingered. I never had a completely free moment because underneath it all was this possibility that I had something. Although I was sure my one night stand was protected, not all parts of it were and I could never be sure of my partner’s true status. It gave me comfort to know that he had gotten out of a 6 year relationship (I stalked his Instagram to confirm) and that he was just as paranoid as I was about getting sick– he asked me nearly 6 times if I had anything and I assured him I hadn’t.

Being a gay man, I worry that the idea of HIV will always haunt my sex life; paranoia will never cease weaving in and out of my sexual experiences. HIV/AIDS has become so synonymous with my identity as a gay person, that once I let that fear creep in, once I start getting paranoid about having something, or questioning if the condom remained intact, it permeates throughout my conscious being. No matter how many times my friends tell me that I’m fine and have nothing to worry about, I still submit to the fear produced under the connection between HIV/AIDS and being gay. If I was straight and didn’t have sex with men, I would feel much more confident about not having contracted something. If I was a woman that practiced safe sex, I wouldn’t feel half as fearful as I usually do even though the intercourse I had was protected. I don’t know if gay men are statistically more promiscuous than straight men or women, but I know that as long as a vaccine or cure has not been developed for HIV, it will remain a problem that the gay community will feel uniquely tied to.

I think I have to accept that for the rest of my life, I will always be scared of contracting HIV; that taking an HIV test will never not be a source of anxiety. Being a part of such a sexually charged community only exacerbates the dichotomy of being sexualized and living by flesh and sparkling vanity, and the fact that we are more susceptible than any other population (besides the transgender community) to be infected with HIV. The gay community worships SEX. We worship feeling worshipped. We treasure feeling beautiful. We treasure the beauty of gay sex. But at the same time, we must also treasure our sexual health. We must treasure feeling sexually empowered and sexually responsible. Because of this intense focus on sex, I oftentimes feel alienated from the gay community. On some level, it reflects some part of me, but I also experience contradictory dissonance. I desire to feel desired, but I also revel in the remaining fragments of my innocence– the pieces that make me unique. What I’m hoping for is that no matter how much our society likes to shove sex down our throats, we remember to always play safe.

HIV Does Not Discriminate

Whoever you are reading this, if you are sexually active, you have a responsibility to yourself and to your partners to know your status. Taking the test takes real courage, but if you have been stressing out over getting tested, you owe yourself peace of mind. Plenty of universities have free rapid HIV testing events. Go to them! Bring your friends or your partner(s) and take the test together. I remember when President Obama and his wife got publicly tested for HIV in an effort to reduce the stigma of getting tested. Although we may be afraid of taking the test because we fear the unknown, it’s important to develop support systems among friends to make something as formidable as being tested into an action that promotes love and taking care.

Top photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/london/75148497

Love in the Laundry

There is unconditional love in the folding of clothes. Sometime last week I did laundry in a batch mixed with my own, my mother’s, and my father’s. As I was folding my laundry to my Beyonce soundtrack, I was ready to just return the laundry basket to their room unfolded because they’re clean anyhow and they can fold it themselves. But when I picked up my last piece of clothing from the basket, I realized something quite startling: my mom would have never done that. Whenever she gets her hands on my laundry, she folds and irons everything; it doesn’t matter whose it is. Sometimes there are certain shirts I’ll ask her to iron because I’m too lazy to do so, but she always folds my clothes the neatest way I’ve ever seen. I’m grateful for that. I realized that this is one way she gives me and my sister unconditional love. I started to cry in this moment. It’s after midnight as Beyonce continues to play from my Mac downstairs and I look into the basket at my parents’ clothes and hesitating no further, I fold them; mind you it wasn’t a full basket to begin with so there wasn’t much to fold. The realization just kept repeating in my mind: this is unconditional love, this is unconditional love. She treats our clothes with care without being asked to do so because she is our mother, we are her children, she loves us, and that’s the role she wants to play as a mother, a mother that wants to take care of her kids.

laundry

Most of my mom’s laundry was her underwear. I am usually averse to touching any of my family members’ underwear because they’re soiled, but that never stopped my mom from washing all of our clothes. So I folded my parents’ underwear from the light in my room while my dad slept with his door open, light splashing onto his tired face, and I did it happily. “XO” by Beyonce came on as I finished up, and when I had one foot into my parents’ room to place their clothes on the bench, Beyonce sang out the second verse, “We don’t have forever. Ooh, baby daylight’s wasting. You better kiss me, before our time has run out.” I quickly took a step back into the lit hallway and gasped at the intensity of which that verse hit me and sobbed as quietly as I could without waking my dad. This song especially makes me feel the shortness of time and when I heard that second verse, I thought of the distance between my parents and me and I didn’t want it there anymore. I want them to kiss me before our time is run out. We have our problems just like any other family, but being back at home has made me realize and see things I never did before. A new intimacy lingers in the solitude. Coming back from study abroad and completing my college career has made the opaque a little clearer. I feel more connected, or at least I want to, and wanting that means so much to me.

Now I know: there is unconditional love in folded laundry.

*First photo by Charlottine
*Second photo by Fins