So last night I was in a gay bar, one of those with a back room. Often there's a code of silence in the outdoor patio between the main bar and the covered, boom-boom room. But that's not always the case. Gays are gays, we chat, laugh and drink. It's not a library or church by any means.
So in comes this cute Asian guy I've been talking to. The bartenders love him. He's always smiling and chatting. That's why I like him too. Upbeat, easy on the eyes. Let's call him Brent. So I think, what a great opportunity to tell Brent about our gay, Asian conference, IFCON 2016, that will be happening here in Chicago over Labor Day. Two hundred folks from the Asians & Friends chapters from across the country will be coming here to be with us. I'm one of the volunteers on the organizing committee. We'd love to have this guy Brent show up and be part of all that gay Asian (and the men who love us) bonding.
I hand him some info, say what the conference is about and he says back, "But I'm only half Filipino."
I'm thinking, "Who cares?" but say something like, "You'll pass."
So later, I'm in that back patio with my drink, talking across the space to another patron--who happens to be Asian--and Brent sits down with us. "Angel, you're too loud," Brent says.
I think, "What the F?"
I was chatting with the guy across the patio but believe me, I wasn't being loud.
"What?" I ask, "I was just talking."
Far from being the upbeat person Brent normally is, he blurts out in this surprising frustration, "You're just too loud!"
I'm thinking, okay, okay. I'm not sure what's going on but I smile and leave to the front bar. Hell, I think I even apologized.
So this morning, I'm connecting the dots. "I'm only half Filipino." That's what he said when I basically told him, "Hey, you're Asian. Come to this Asian conference."
I think he was actually saying to me, "Angel, I'm not that Asian."
Hell, I'm not that Asian too. I'm pretty white or "American" under the skin. But the fact is, I'm still Asian. More Filipino and a quarter Chinese. But no one cares. I'm Asian. That's what non-Asian gays see first and foremost. And I know that here, in Chicago, if I were me and white and standing in the boom-boom room in a down jacket, sweats and birkenstocks, they'd be all over me.
And my loud mouth.
I'm thinking Brent wasn't frustrated with me being "loud," he was frustrated with me. Or him. Or something that he thinks he's not ... but he is.
I know, heavy stuff right? But before I go on, ladies and gentlemen, can I just say that even here in gay middle America, you can be cute and Asian?
I remember deferring to Brent's anger last night because I knew he wasn't angry at me. And I know he's got a heart.
And I know I can be annoying, potentially obnoxious. But I'm also effervescent, funny and witty. It's my curse.
So here's my conclusion--and my truth. We all have demons. Unhappy gremlins festering within us. We all have doors to open. Things to discover about ourselves. I'll just meet him again, hopefully on the other side of one of those doors.
Yours with respect,