Ah, to be gay and Asian in this day and age…
Nothing I’m about to say is new, but it bears repeating that being gay and Asian is annoying. Not in regards to my identity, itself — to that end, being both gay and Asian is an amazing cultural pot of riches. But to navigate the gay communities being someone other than a ripped, white cis-male does bring its own unique set of thorns. But living in both coasts, I’ve noticed that not all thorns are alike. Some are regional.
The LA Gays
There is no better equation than The Plastics = LA Gays. Though they may live far apart (we’re talking from Northridge to La Cañada to WeHo), they are close-knit and can be as vicious with their glare as they are with their words. This isn’t a blanket equation, now, but the connective tissue here is status.
Everyone wants to be them.
Their microaggressive behaviors to Gaysian men aren’t direct, rather it’s quiet and judgmental. You know who they are the minute you step into The Abbey (i.e. the most abysmal bar along Santa Monica Blvd.): they’re gathered by a booth and they radiate exclusivity. Their sheer collective energy screams “you’re not our type and it’s just a preference, babe.” While their numbers are large and their “preferences” tacit, the fact that LA is so spread out makes the community tolerable if you know where to look (e.g. Akbar, Precinct DTLA, etc.)
The coasts could not be more different in appearance and aim. In my experience, the DC gays are far more upfront and direct with their words and won’t apologize for it. And to that they get my respect. In my long life of nearly thirty years, I’ve learned that the one thing I cannot stand is beating around the bush and not saying what you’re feeling or thinking. So thank you, DC, for being upfront and brash.
That said, i’ve probably faced more upfront microaggressive comments in the first month living in DC than I had in my entire five years living in LA as an out gay man. Now, they’re nothing bad (which is just my luck), but the directness of it was new. And with newness came shock and with shock came processing.
And on the flip side, I’ve never found a more welcoming and open gay community than the one I’ve created here. In contrast to LA, the community is very concentrated and everywhere you step is another gay man looking to tap you on Grindr (Sorry, Mom).
And so while I was able to live my life out and about in LA amidst the silent judgment of my peers, I was never really about to create one. I had gay friendships, sure, but it didn’t feel as lush as when I moved to DC. None of this is a dig at LA, I know that it’s been a haven for many and home for more, but it was never a city to call my own. Neither is worst than the other — I’ve had terrible experiences in both and I’ve had amazing experiences in both, and that’s just the cost of navigating any space.
But its one worth paying because now I know where I’d rather be.