It’s a struggle to find that place for myself where my confidence isn’t derived from my external achievements, my appearances, or the games that one plays when they are participating in “the hunt.” And although how men behave towards me has nothing to do with my intrinsic value or self-worth, being left by Aaron and others plays to my insecurities, which in the past I’ve mentioned revolve around the story that I an umworthy and not good enough to “keep” my men.
My tendency in this kind of situation is to withdraw, … to cut off my connections and retreat behind my self-imposed silence. Yet, I know that the evolutionary impulse is not to contract but to expand. It is to open up to the world and express more of who we are. And as I sit with my own undesirability, I can’t help but marvel at the irony that true intimacy comes from being completely open and vulnerable to the world.
In my last entry, I began to explore what it means to be turning 33 as a gay man whose community has an unspoken cutoff of 3o years of age as being “over the hill.” I looked at how race has shaped the way I have found agency in the racist dynamics of the gay male community, especially in San Francisco.
Just as insidious is the cultural messaging that has colluded to make getting older a liability. Filipino culture sends the message that being in a (heterosexual) relationship and getting married by our 30s is the ideal. If you read further into that, then you’ll also get that there’s something wrong with you if you aren’t in a relationship by the time you get to my age. Perhaps, that’s why I wanted to see Aaron as my life partner (even if he may be in the end): Because I ain’t getting any younger, and I’m too old to play the cat-and-mouse games I used to play when I was younger.
So as I turn 33, I can’t help but take a step back and fall back in love with my self. I can’t help but learn to appreciate anew my unique individuality. I can’t help but remember that who I am is Whole and Complete, perfect just the way I am with all of my humanity. And as long as I stay true to who I am, I need not worry that my life partner will be there, because he will be. …
While I made my way around the Kaiser Medical Center today, I couldn’t help but find pause as I saw all of the older adults slowly making their way around. A conversation I had with my therapist on Friday came back up for me to critically examine yet again. I was sharing with Kevin, my therapist, how, for some reason, my upcoming 33rd birthday seems to be more of a preoccupation than prior birthdays.
I’ve never been big on birthdays. Yet, there’s something about where I am in this period of my life that just seems to be glaring at me in ways that they hadn’t before. Most of the people with whom I grew up have their own families now. And if having my own family is to be a real goal for me, then it won’t be for another six or seven years, once I’ve obtained my PhD and settled into a new career. Yet, I am very much aware of my male privilege, and how I don’t have the same kind of biological egg timer (no pun intended) that confront women of my age.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The deeper issue I raised with Kevin was how I feel like I am way past the age where I can claim to be “young.” And as a gay Asian-American male, whether or not there’s shame in what I am about to say, I’ve been able to find the semblance of power in a racist, male-dominated gay “community” by playing to the objectification of gay Asian men as “young and sensual,” even if I deplore such a practice. So how do I define my Power, my uniqueness, when it has been built on a facade? And what hope does an aging gay Asian man have in a White-centered social structure?
More importantly, how do I define myself in ways that honor my authentic Self? How do I celebrate Michael at this turn of another year of my existence?