May 31st, 2021

There’s an interaction with someone I had just met freshman year at Purdue that I still think about.

Her: What’s your nationality?
Me: American
Her: No, what’s your background?
Me: Middle-class suburbanite
Her: No, where were you born?
Me: Chicago.
Her: No, where did your parents come from?
Me: California.
Her: No, I mean, where were your parents born?
Me: Oh, Vietnam

So in this introductory meeting with a first year engineering student, which was purportedly to get to know each other, her questions veered from being about me to quickly being about my parents despite the fact that I had told her a wealth of info about me. Indeed, my first three responses had a great impact on who I was.

I don’t think she was acting in bad faith or malice. But I wonder if she looks back and realizes she was moving the topic from being about me to being about why my face looks different than hers.

Would I have gotten the same treatment if I were black? If I were white with red hair? If I were white with a mustache?

Anyway, Happy Asian American Heritage Month.

Friendship is Magic (gays)

May 13th, 2021

Something that occurred to me that happened during that long phone call and travel came up and I found myself mentioning spending time with friends in various cities. Boston, Pittsburgh, Seattle. It wasn’t meant to be a flex. (I was excitedly talking about future travel plans.) But I realized that a friend network this widespread is unusual and would have been unthinkable for college aged me.

What’s the secret?


All my friends are queer!

One-off make a friend. They talk about their friends. Meet those friends. Repeat until social network spans multiple cities.

And college aged me didn’t have the skills nor experience nor exposure to be able to do this. And that makes me think of how much being at Purdue held me back. Once free of the closet, I was free to be myself unashamed. And it is so much easier to befriend others when you stop trying to be someone else’s idea.

Because it’s real.