Dear Young, Sweet and Sensational Me,
Hello, it’s me. You from the future. I have little time to explain and even less to give you (Future You is most definitely not an unemployed billionaire, sorry).
But what I can give you are some words from the heart. Hold them close, hold them tight.
You’ll get through everything okay.
P.S When you’re 15, don’t try to bleach your hair with hydrogen peroxide—nothing will happen and your scalp will look like it lost a fight with Dandruff the Snowman.
- Contrary to personal belief, you are not the only queer person in your grade. There are so many other folks just like you. Iridescent, lonely satellites floating about, looking to connect and orbit around others in the vast, empty space of heteronormativity.
- In due time, you will shed your coat of loneliness. You will trade it in for a sensible scarf of “sometimes-loneliness”, as you meet other like-minded and lovely folks from all walks of life. You’ll discover how positively electric the air can feel when you’re in spaces full of queer people of color—spaces that feel like home. It doesn’t matter as much if and when you feel lonely: at stadiums during sporting events, on busy subway platforms or in quiet and stifling offices. Being lonely is a part of human nature. What matters more is who you feel completely at ease with, even if it’s only one or two people. Someday you’ll come to recognize that these folks are a part of your chosen family.
- As an adult, you’ll go to heaps of meetups and potlucks to connect with and befriend other folks in the community. Not all of them will be the most fun or enjoyable, but that’s okay! Sometimes, you have to navigate through an experience and come out the other end to realize something important about yourself. Enjoying playing Clue and Scrabble and being queer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy going to a Queer Board Games Meetup, sweetie!
- At some point in your twenties you will finally try durian and it will be a bit anticlimactic. It will taste as though a clove of garlic and a banana had a baby.
- Reconciling your Asian identity with your queer identity will not be particularly easy or smooth. At times it’ll seem like trying to cook with hot oil and water in an industrial-sized wok. The truth is that you just haven’t seen much, if any, representation of proud, fierce queer Asians at this point in your life (those late nights looking at pixelated images of beefcake don’t count all that much). You can be queer, Asian, and proud. Full stop. You can take pride in being bad at driving, decent at baking — whatever you want, really. Embrace the chaotic traffic circle of identities inside of you.
- One night you’ll be watching the Olympics broadcast with your family in the living room. At some point, a young Michael Phelps will come on the screen. You’ll say out loud, to no one in particular, Michael Phelps is cute—(cue lengthy pause)—if I were a girl. You’ll think you were slick and stealthy in the moment. But I’m here to tell you that you were fooling nobody, you sweet summer child. At that moment, even the old sofa everyone was sitting on knew what was really going on.
- For one moment in time in your twenties, you’ll become a member of an all-Asian drag group. You’ll learn how to roughly put together a medley in Audacity, and spend mornings before work trying to memorize lyrics. Walking in heels (doing anything in heels, really) will prove to be as challenging as parallel parking on a steep hill in the pouring rain. You’ll also struggle with putting on fake lashes in a way that doesn’t make you look like Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. But above all else, you’ll have an incredible experience with your fellow drag troupe members. All those times as a kid when you made wigs and dresses out of bedsheets and towels—pretending to be Faye Wong in concert—paid off, who would have thought?
- Megan Thee Stallion once said, “You may not think my body is perfect, and it probably never will be”. But when I look in the mirror I love what I see. These are wise words to live by, and if I were you, I’d jot this down in whatever grimey Urban Outfitters notebook you journal in at night. You too, will come to love your body — poor eyesight, swollen feet, crackling sounds in the joints and all.
- At some point you’ll start drinking in your late teens. And I’m here to tell you that babe, you get Asian glow/Asian flush like nobody’s business. There’s getting rosy cheeks, and then there’s you. A ripe tomato thrown at an already red brick. Well-meaning folks will time and time again come up to you and ask if you’re okay, if you need to sit by a window, what it’s like being Clifford the Big Red Dog’s cousin, etc.
- Some people will question your queerness, your Asianness, and other aspects of your self. Most of these questions are just folks being curious. But for the ones that asked less questions and put more veiled digs and jabs at the core of your being, I’d advise you to tune that out. This idea that because you’re queer and Asian means you need to act a certain way or like this type of person is nothing but ignorance. There is no singular queer Asian narrative, story, or experience. There is no one mold that you or others like you have to fit into to be considered good or adequate enough for a particular identity. By being you, by existing as you, you are enough. If you want to be more, that’s totally up to you! Just know that you’re in all of this mess, competing with yourself and only yourself. Stay hydrated, babe.
- One day you will come to a realization that moving your arms while walking is for squares, and not moving the entire upper half of your body while walking is the coolest thing to do in 2011. I’m not here to pass judgement from the future. What I can tell you, however, is that walking like that makes you look like you escaped from a Minecraft-themed torture dungeon. Do with that what you will.
- It bears repeating. You’ll get through everything okay. The good times will be good, and the bad times will be complete shit. In time, they all fade and become dusty memories of the past. Take care of yourself, your loved ones, and loved ones-to-be. You got this.
— Brandon Mei