Thursday, August 30, 2007

Love and/or Sex

The following is based on actual conversations.

Peter: Do you want to get married?

Kathy: No, not right now.

P: No, I don't mean right now, I mean eventually. Ever. Do you ever want to get married?

K: To you?

P: Yeah, why not?

K: (giggly, sheepish) Well . . . What about your physical attraction to men?

P: I'm thinking that if I can give up men, then you'd be doing almost the same thing if you married me.

K: What about sex?

P: Well, if you talk to married couples , those who have been together a long time, sex always seems to become nonexistent anyway. So I'm thinking, why don't we get married and just skip to that part?

K: (laughing) I am not giving up sex! I'm only 23, and I haven't had that much sex yet, to begin with.

P: So, we wait until we're older, when sex becomes less of a priority, and we get married so that we can always be together.

K: I'm not saying that I live for sex. I just think that marriage makes sex important, makes it substantial. Do you know what I'm trying to say?

P: Yeah, I think I do. Most people have it the other way around, thinking that sex makes marriage important. I would never confuse it that way with you.

K: Could you . . . Could you feel for a woman? Get everything in proper working order for what's considered . . . regular marital relations?

P: I definitely want to have kids, so I've thought about it a lot. Yeah, I think I could.

K: Why don't we consummate our love right now? Come on!

P: (laughing, nervous) Because I'm not ready yet!

K: Kiss me.

Peter looks at her

K: Kiss me. You don't have to do me. Just kiss me.

Old Guy

Going back to school at age 38 was a positive experience. Any worries about not being able to blend in with students almost half my age were soon put to rest. And the cheerleader/sorority types embraced me as one of their own, probably because the major of Gender Studies was inevitably a gay-friendly environment.

"Omigod!" Kirsten had exclaimed to me, while walking to class. "I was just talking about you with Deanna. She's in my sorority and we so love having you as a classmate!"
"Aww, you girls are so good for my ego," I replied. "Where were you when I was in high school?"
Kirsten hesitated before answering. "Um . . . we weren't born yet?"

It was a rhetorical question, BEOTCH!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reluctant Trojan

Being admitted to USC as an undergraduate student a few years ago was definitely one of the better opportunities in my life. I was driven to attend every class meeting, turn in every assignment on time, and actually do the required reading in order not to waste the generous grant money that covered the majority of tuition.

But oh, what a burden for someone like me to be attending classes on that campus during two successful football seasons. As much as possible, I tried not to bring up USC in conversation, outside of school. If I did, most people would inevitably want to talk about the school's football team.

I have never paid attention to sports. Even in high school I probably would not have attended a single football game or basketball game if I hadn't been in band. At USC, I didn't even buy the student activities card that would've allowed me to get discount game tickets, a student perk people were always hoping to access from me.

And although I happily avoided the frenzy and mania of Trojan sports, there was still the school spirit, the obligatory, required school spirit. When Trojan newbies first register and attend orientation, they are taught to hold up the V-for-victory sign to other fellow Trojans and say, "Fight on!" And they make you do it, too, at orientation at least. I had joined a cult!

When people asked if I had attended any of the football games, a stock answer had naturally evolved:
"No, but I had a tap class with two of the cheerleaders. That's the closest that I ever got to the football atmosphere at school."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Halfway to Awareness

Being of mixed race has usually meant that I get to experience the best of both worlds. Part of my own plastic bubble world is that I have never really experienced open prejudice or discrimination, either here in America or in Japan. Being a whore for attention, I've always enjoyed the fact that people found my mixed background to be something of a novelty.

I'm lucky that my ethnic identity has mostly worked to my advantage. But it has also contributed to my lack of awareness. I have always taken for granted that I will never know what it's like to be completely Caucasian, no matter how 'white' I felt while growing up, or how 'white' I was treated.
But I will also never fully comprehend the experience of being 100% Asian American.

I'm still surprised, now and then, by the things that bring me to increased awareness. An Asian American on television--I wish I could remember who, now--was saying how people would sometimes marvel at how well he spoke English, despite the fact that he was born in the U.S. (or was it in the U.K., a line from "Cut Sleeve Boys?")
This was something I had never experienced. Domestic Partner told me that, as an ABJ (American Born Japanese), this was something he had been through several times, and he had always found it a little frustrating and a bit racist.

Yes, Domestic Partner is Japanese American, for those of you who don't know yet.
That's something else I take for granted, the fact that most people assume that I am paired up with a Caucasian man. Many people are still surprised when they find out that my guy is also Asian American.

The thing is, it doesn't bother me. Maybe it should. That way of thinking can perpetuate the stereotype of all of us rice-eating, slanty-eyed types wanting to be coupled with the Aryan ideal. It's twisted, but I understand it. I used to want to be with little blonde, blue-eyed girls (who never wanted me back!) while growing up. And then I wanted to be with blonde, blue-eyed surfer boys from about the age of 19.
But only for a while.

Being accepted by a white significant other helps to carry over and further reinforce acceptance by white society in general, at least, in some minds.

Maybe I have it all backwards. In Japan, Domestic Partner would be looked at as the one paired up with a whitey.

Mmmmm. "Sticky Rice."

Aunt Pat, Roller Coaster Woman

I know some fun people in life, and my Aunt Pat is one of the most fun.
She took me on my first roller coaster ride when I was five years old. Actually, it was a kiddie-coaster at Santa's Village, in the San Bernardino mountains. I was terrified, and she held me close in a secure hug, during the whole ride.

Aunt Pat took my siblings and me to Magic Mountain park in Valencia, several times as we were growing up. She would ride on every roller coaster with us, such as Colossus and the Revolution. She continued to ride with us as we became teenagers and young adults.

Aunt Pat is now in her sixties, and just as outgoing and active as ever, although it's been a while since any of us were last on a roller coaster. She did ride through all of the water flumes at Soak City, last year, with me and my tween-age niece.

I asked her if she might want to be cremated, when her time comes. I wasn't trying to be intentionally morbid.
"I was thinking of taking a portion of your ashes on a roller coaster," I told her. "I would let your ashes fly once we started speeding down the first incline."
Aunt Pat laughed. She loved the idea.
"Just make sure you're sitting in the very last seat," she replied. "I wouldn't want to be scattered into some one's eyes."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grateful and Guilty?

I live in a dream world. My 'Simple Kind of Life' is good, and I almost feel guilty about it, sometimes.

Perspective is a funny thing, funny in that it is strange, mostly because it is so relative.

I met with two good friends this week. One has recently started dealing with an eating disorder. The other had dealt with cancer recently, and several resulting surgeries.
And the list goes on, as I'm sure it does for most people, if not in their own lives, then in their closest satellite relationships.
Someone close to me has been dealing with infertility. Another close friend is sandwiched between a young child with frightening health problems and an ailing step-parent.

And what problems do I complain about? I have to let go of my '94 Saturn because it has gone beyond piece-of-crap status. I don't know how much longer my scooter will hold out, and then--gasp!--I might have to ride the bus to work and back.

In other words, I have no right to complain.

About anything.

So, this is my prayer, and it has been for quite some time, now:

God, please help me not to waste my space on this planet. Please help me to be of some use to others, in realistic ways, both tangible and intangible.

Many people have been very kind to me, my entire life. I don't always remember that, especially when I'm wasting time feeling sorry for myself. I try to practice remembering more often, because it helps me to be kind to other people.

"Life is not fair. But sometimes, life is not fair in your favor."
~ Peter Varvel

Friday, August 24, 2007

Scooter Meditation

Now I lay me down to sleep
My peace of mind I pray to keep
And though I dream before I rise
Still vague the vision of three eyes

Now I risk life on the road
On daily scooter rides, light load
My constant prayer: to stay alive
And in one piece safely arrive

My chatty self, even when praying
May miss what Universe is saying
So help me still the inner clatter
I need to listen, hear what matters

I'm grateful that I've lived past forty
So far, Great Times! I thank you, Lordy
But if I die before age fifty
I'm grateful, still--my life's been n . . . wondrous

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Extra! Extra! for Ex-EX-gays

I have never regretted becoming involved with Christian therapy and ex-gay ministry during my twenties. I got a lot out of it, at the time. It really felt, back then, as if someone had thrown me that proverbial rope.
Even before going in, I knew that it was important for me to examine as many sides of such a confusing and controversial issue as possible.

So how thrilled am I that one of my most-recent-favorite-authors-to-stalk has a new book coming out this fall that deals with that specific struggle, the inner conflict of trying to compromise a religious upbringing with the increasing realization of a homosexual identity?!!

Or to put it more simply, how excited am I that someone wrote a teen novel about being both gay and Christian?

Check out Alex Sanchez and his Young Adult novels about the queer Latino youth experience, from both gay and straight perspectives!

Mr. Sanchez's books are the type of Young Adult novels that I wish had been around when I was a closeted teenager. I'm glad that I have discovered them recently because they have quickly become, collectively, a specific role model and direct influence for my own fledgling writing efforts.

And I am thrilled--THRILLED, I tell you!--that he has answered my fan e-mail to let me know that he will be here locally, at a Different Light Bookstore in West Hollywood, for a book signing on October 4.

Look for the giddy middle-aged guy among all of the teenage and twenty-something fans. That'll be me, eagerly waiting for Alex Sanchez's autograph in my future copy of "The God Box."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Disney Roots

April, 1985

My friend Brent did not tell me where we were going.
"It's a surprise," he told me. "You're going to be so excited when you find out. You'll be jumping up and down!"
When we arrived at a small, crowded parking lot in Anaheim, Brent told me that we were auditioning for Disneyland's Electrical Parade.
I was not excited.
I was intimidated, intimidated by the long line of young men who looked like professionally trained dancers to me. I specifically remember Matt V in jazz pants, leg warmers, a slashed sweatshirt sliding off of one shoulder a la "Flashdance," and Vuarnet-style framed glasses. Matt turned out to be one of the sweetest friends in the world to know, but for someone like me who had not come out of the closet yet, he looked very effeminate, and that was intimidating!

There was no way that they were going to hire me to dance in a Disneyland parade. I had very little experience as a performer, and even less formal dance training.
That attitude helped to get me hired--sorry, cast into EP. I had nothing to lose, so I was actually a lot more relaxed when doing the simple dance combination (step-pivot, step-pivot, wizard, and wizard, and burst!) than if I had desperately wanted the job.
I was able to laugh at myself while butchering what little of the combination I was able to remember. I remember the choreographer smiling and kind of laughing at me before waving me over to the 'good dancers side.' Now that I'm older, I realize that not-so-good dancers often make the cuts and get cast when the choreographer thinks they're attractive. Being young and cute probably helped to get my foot into the Mouse House, although at 19, I certainly didn't think of myself as cute.

I knew what kind of boys worked at Disneyland. A friend from school had been in the Donald Duck parade the year before, and he told me that all of the parade boys were gay. I knew that being hired into parades would not be good for me, having been raised as a Christian. I knew that if I started hanging around these boys, I would want to start being like them
I had this vision of myself standing at the edge of a cliff, right outside of a protective forest: taking a job in a Disneyland parade meant that I could jump off of that cliff, or I could run back and hide some more in that closet of a forest.

I jumped.

Actually, it was more like I fell. Yes, I got hurt on the way down, more than once, but I didn't die. Getting back up, however, was a long, difficult journey.

1985 was a difficult year. I had dropped out of UCLA. I came out of the closet and started dealing with my sexuality, trying to compromise it with Christianity. My father was angry that I had dropped out of school and that I had taken a 'nowhere job' at Disneyland, so things were not good at home.
And yet, I am able to look back on that time fondly, with a lot of good memories mixed in with the bad. That year was the beginning of one of the best times of my life, and the true beginning of shaping my adult identity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gogo Boy

I miss gogo dancing.
I miss the attention and the extra cash. I miss the creative challenge of coming up with different looks, as much as I could, dancing in underwear. And I miss being able to feel taller while dancing on a box.
It was such a fun game for me, and I got such a natural high from dancing. I could stay out on a set for up to an hour, as long as the music was good.

One reason I quit was my age. I was still gogo dancing when I turned 40, last year. I mean, when does it start to get too ridiculous?
I went into self-imposed retirement shortly after my fortieth birthday. I was just about to finish school, then, and I had thought that I would be working full time soon enough.
More than six months had passed between graduation and getting hired for my very first desk job. I had started to panic about my finances about halfway through that half year period and I had briefly come out of retirement.

Another reason I quit, again, was the inevitable weight gain that comes with working at a full time job. Gone are the days of two hour workouts in the gym before a five hour lunch shift at the restaurant.
Now, I get in a little over a half hour of exercise during my lunch break, Monday through Friday. I could work out more before work, or even after. But there are dogs to feed and walk in the morning, and there is Domestic Partner to sit at home with at night, in front of the T.V.
I'm not complaining. I just miss it. But I am 41 now, and really, when does it get too ridiculous?

It's easy for me to be generous when tipping because people were always generous to me, whether I was gogo dancing or waiting tables. If you see a gogo dancer in a bar, male or female, tip them for me. Help me pay it forward. Be the first tipper, break the ice. And don't put singles in a dancer's g-string, but donate a least a fiver, or ten, even a twenty. Believe me, it makes a difference. A twenty dollar bill can make all the difference in a dancer's single night shift. They may be dancing for fun, or because they have a lot of self-confidence and think that they're sexy. But most of them are also doing it because they have to.

Support the arts!

Bathroom Phobia

I used to be afraid of people hearing me whenever I used the bathroom, especially in someone else's home.
In a lot of the southern California tract homes built in the 1950's and after, many of the bathrooms do not have windows, so there is a ceiling vent and fan to help remove the shower steam and moisture. As a kid, I didn't know that that was the original purpose. I just figured that it was a handy noise maker to help override any personal noises made while using the toilet.
"Where's your noise maker?" I would ask friends whose guest bathroom had a window.
"Our what?"
And God help me if there wasn't any disinfectant spray available, or at least some matches. I could've died of embarrassment!

I'm not as afraid, nowadays, of making noise, at least, not in public restrooms. Still, I prefer complete privacy because I eat a lot of fiber on a daily basis.
When I worked at Disneyland in the eighties, there were confetti cannons on the top of Main Street USA's buildings. That was the source of the multi-colored paper rain that fell during the parades . . . Was that subtle enough?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gay Fat, Rosie, and Me

I am fat today, more so ("Mmm, morsel") than usual.
A box of See's truffles from last week, plus a dinner party on Saturday night, plus a this-close-to-a-trough indulgence at Chili's restaurant yesterday equals tight work slacks on Monday morning.

Oh, the remorse!

Flo-at-work chides me for even expressing any feelings of fat. She was the one from whom I had first heard the term 'gay fat.' I knew what she meant right away. For gay men who are obsessive gym bunnies, and for wannabes like me, even slight water retention after high sodium snacking can feel like morbid obesity in our warped minds.

It makes me think of--funny, what stays in your mind--an interview with Rosie O'Donnell after she had finished filming "The Flintstones" as Betty Rubble. She had told the wardrobe department to make her a few Betty Rubble dresses in different sizes because her weight went up and down.

If you go to Chili's, order their "cheesecake shots" dessert, in a sampler of three different flavors. So what if your clothes feel tighter the next day? The chocolate cream layered cheesecake shot alone is worth it!

Rosie O'Donnell and I are not 'big-boned,' we're 'gay fat!'

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brenda and Holly

In the early eighties, Brenda and Holly were the Cool Chicks in high school.
They weren't cheerleaders and they weren't on homecoming court. Their cool factor was beyond all of that. They were intelligent, though--we were in Honors classes together--and they were modest about it.

They were cool because they knew how to dress creatively. They weren't afraid to take risks with different looks, usually combining thrift store purchases with brand name mall staples from Contempo's and Judy's. They were able to pull off unusual looks that most girls wouldn't even dare to attempt.
I'll never forget when Holly wore a pair of old, silver metallic saddle shoes which had clear, see-through vinyl as the saddles. She had built a whole silver and plastic ensemble from the ground up, topped off with a Saran wrap head band. Another memorable outfit was based on a red-and-black-checkered sweater vest, which was complemented with a black legging and red shoe on one side, and a red legging and matching black shoe on the other.
They 'dressed retro' long before any of us had learned the term 'retro chic.'

Once while passing each other in the school hallways, I noticed Brenda and Holly singing and dancing together.
"What are you doing?" I asked them.
"We're in a musical," Holly replied.
"Yeah," Brenda added, "because in musicals, people always sing and dance in public while everyone else passes by without noticing. Except you noticed, Peter, because you like to be in musicals."

They must have figured out later that I was way gay, based on that one exchange.
At the ten year reunion, I was disappointed that neither Holly nor Brenda had shown up. Hopefully, they haven't moved too far away. Maybe one day I'll bump into some way cool soccer moms with minivans and an amazing sense of style.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Luckiest Guy in the World

I am a lucky sonofabitch.
I have to be, in order to safely balance out the complete idiot that I also seem to be with alarming frequency.
My whole life.

My beloved scooter, the cherished Suzuki Burgman that gives me joy and a natural high on a daily basis, is slowly deteriorating into yet another crappy vehicle o' mine. This past week, I have been leaving the key in the ignition, accidentally, after struggling to open up the now-harder-to-open storage trunk, where I keep my gym bag and helmet, etc.
At home, that's okay. We live in a quiet, safe neighborhood, and the scooter stays in the garage overnight. Domestic Partner is not going to steal the keys out of the ignition. He hasn't even ridden on the back of my scooter once in the three years that I've had it.

But this morning, after ninety minutes inside Rosemead Bally's, I walked back to the parking lot and noticed that my keys were still hanging out of the ignition. I feel lucky enough that the scooter didn't get stolen, but I feel even luckier that someone didn't just randomly yank the key set away, just for kicks.


Someone is watching over me.

I have been lucky my whole life. Even when bad things have happened, they have always turned out okay, eventually. My father used to say that I could fall flat on my face into the mud and dirt, and come up smelling like a rose. And ML, the Disneyland roommate-with-a-heart-of-gold, always used to say "God watches over babies and fools." The fact that I wasn't the former was implied.

Yes, I am damn lucky! And I try not to take it for granted, most of the time. I am grateful for my luck, and it actually makes me ask God to help me be nice to people, especially when I don't feel like it.

. . . Peter's plastic bubble world.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


My pet peeve: when people are waiting to cross at an intersection and they push the crosswalk signal button over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

I want to scream at them. "CAN'T YOU FIGURE OUT THAT IT'S ON A TIMER? IDIOT!"

Domestic Partner says people do it because of nerves--a habit born out of tension.
It makes me tense, that's for sure.

Why am I so petty about this? I really can't stand it. As soon as I see someone pushing that signal button non-stop, I make myself look away. If I don't, my irritation increases.

In her stand up comedy, Ellen DeGeneres talks about people who push the elevator button multiple times. "Like that's going to make the elevator come any faster," she jests.

If a non-stop button pusher is the most irritating part of my day, I figure I should be thankful for an easy life.

Welcome to Peter's Plastic Bubble World.

Eddie and His Bitchy Weapon Dance

"What color is it, and does it have a make-up mirror?"

Those were the first words out of my fabulous friend, Eddie's mouth when his dad had bought him his first (used) car.
I love Eddie because he affirms who I am, especially when I am in doubt about my priorities in life. I almost never pay attention to the make and model of any automobile, one of the things Domestic Partner is critical about.

I know what my strengths are. Paying attention to cars has never been important to me.

Eddie and I have been having fun since 1985, when we got hired into the Electrical Parade together, at Disneyland.
He has taught me many things, like how to pose. In the eighties, Eddie had a couple of mannequins at home, which he was constantly putting in different poses. And he was perpetually demonstrating the different poses to me and other friends. We called the mannequins "Eddie's Giant Pose-able Barbies."
Eddie was also the one to teach me the Weapon Dance. We were dancing one night at D.O.K. in Garden Grove, the first gay bar I nervously went to at age 19 ("Faggots and homos and queers, oh my!"). When a young man started dancing possessively with a cutie that Eddie had had his eye on, Eddie started miming weapon attacks toward the young man as part of his dancing. He held an imaginary bow and arrow, which he waved from side to side, before letting the arrow fly toward the interceptor. Keeping tempo with the club's dance music, he mimed pistol shots at his head. He swung an invisible ax at him. He raised his fist above his head and repeatedly stabbed the air with a pretend-knife, a la Norman Bates.
After each attack, Eddie's open palm would suddenly cover his mouth which was agape in mock shock and surprise. I could hear inside my head his inaudible gasps over the allegedly unintended injury.

Last week, I came home from work to see a new, shiny . . . sports-SUV type vehicle in our garage. Domestic Partner had bought himself a new car. It's a gorgeous shade of silver, and I took it for granted that there would be a handy lighted make-up mirror in the front passenger side for me.
"It's a what?" I asked DP. "A Ford? A Lexus?"
"It's an Infiniti FX35," he informed me, exasperation and condescension mixed in his tone.
I shot an imaginary arrow at him when he wasn't looking.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Naive Band Geek's Sex Education

I was admittedly naive during most of my youth, and well into my twenties. I chalk this up to a combination of being an "innocent little Japanese boy," and being raised Protestant Christian. I was nauseatingly goody-goody.

I used to think that 'oral sex' meant talking dirty. I had figured that one out on my own. When I had found out how babies were made, my theory was that twins were the result of having had sexual intercourse two consecutive times. And THAT meant that people who had triplets or quadruplets and so forth were just extra horny, dirty, nasty people!

Fortunately, I had started getting most of my sex education when I first joined the high school marching band. While changing into band uniforms with the other male band geeks before a football game, I heard someone mention "B.A." It was something I had heard before, but I didn't know what it meant. All I knew was that it had nothing to do with a Bachelor's degree.
"Excuse me, but this little, innocent Japanese boy wants to know what a B.A. is." I was among my fellow trumpet and brass players, so it was safe to ask.
Our drum major, Don, answered for me by turning around and dropping the trousers of our fetching gold-and-black-trim band uniform, right there in front of us, in the cramped practice room.
Don was a tall, blonde, Nordic type and very hairy. Everywhere. This was an image that has stayed in my mind for more than twenty-five years, one I will never forget.

Next to Don's senior picture in the school yearbook, under "Ambition," was the word 'welder.' Somehow, that has helped to imbed the image of Don's B.A. in my mind.

What Makes a Man Sexy

Any guy jogging on the street is automatically sexy to me, not only for the effort made for his physical appearance, but also for the overall long term benefits gained, emotionally, mentally, etc.

Men who care for and nurture children are very sexy to me, whether it's their own children or someone else's.

And one of the sexiest things in the world is when a guy is zooming down the freeway on his rice rocket, and you can see the small of his back exposed by the winds lifting up the back of his tee shirt.

"I want a C-O-O-L R-I-D-E-R"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mousketeer for Life

One of my key influences for wanting to become a dancer-singer-performer, besides Dick Van Dyke, was the New Mickey Mouse Club in the 1970's. No, not the Britney/Justin/Christina Aguilera generation, but the one before that, the one where the cast had all been born in the sixties, like me.
The 70's version of MMC had more of an "It's a Small World" theme in its cast, with two African American kids, two Hispanic kids, and one Asian boy, Curtis Wong from Vancouver, B.C.
I was desperate to be a Mousketeer, in any way, shape, or form. I would wear my kelly green mouse ears bought at Disneyland park, with my name stitched in the back in bright yellow thread. Green was my favorite color back then, before the Purple Period of twenty years. Of course, I practiced saying my name with a big cheesy grin while posing for the camera. "Peter!"
I wanted to sing and dance like those kids on T.V. and be cute and likeable and happy. And I wanted to be part of a group, to be included in something.
When I told my dad about this lofty goal he answered, "No, they already have an Asian boy in the group. And besides, your teeth aren't straight."
This was before braces, when I was about 10 or 11. Who knew that straight teeth were necessary to be on T.V. or on the stage?
I still know all of the lyrics to the songs from their T.V. show's album. I have long since lost the original record, but I've managed to keep a cassette tape copy of it all of these years.
Thanks to ebay, though, I now own the record, once again (and yes, I still have a record player).
Sing it with me, now: "Surprise Day, Surprise Day, it's Mousketeer Surprise Day, anything can happen and it usually does!"

Curtis Wong, wherever you are, thanks for representing!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Gaysian Weekend, Part 2

Yesterday, Domestic Partner and I went to see the film "Cut Sleeve Boys."

Check it out at

I am not a film critic, but I enjoyed this one, and I would see it again. I enjoyed the camp humor and outrageous-queen caricatures.

It was strange to see Asian faces and hear them speak British English, though. Does that expose my ethnocentrism? The only British Asian actor or actress that I can bring to mind right now is the lovely young woman who plays "Cho" in the Harry Potter films. I doubt that equivalent ethnic phrases are used in the U.K. such as "Asian English", instead of Asian American, or "EBC", English Born Chinese, instead of ABC. But I wonder . . .

Chowee Leow was fantastic as the effeminate fashion plate and emerging drag queen, 'Ashley Wang.' Steven Lim was not quite evenly matched to Leow in his acting skills as 'Melvyn Shu.' But if you're like me, and you have a sweet tooth for eye candy, you won't care much about his line delivery when his shirt is off.

David Tse portrayed the minor role that will be unforgettable in my mind, that of the closeted pastor who eventually comes out at the end of the film. Maybe it's because of my Christian upbringing and past involvement in ex-gay ministry, but I had wanted to see more of this character's story on screen.
In the final scene the former pastor is seen on the street in flamboyant, trendy clothes and sporting an elaborate hairstyle. He is emancipated. Without going into much detail about the story line, one interpretation of this could be that, as the beneficiary of a secret lover's will, the former pastor could finally afford to leave the church and live as an openly gay man.

And that confirms a frightening theory in my mind: Many people stay involved with church as a way to hide, whether they are still in the closet or they are avoiding something else that they fear. Money isn't necessary to live courageously, or honestly, authentically. But when you're in trouble or in need, perhaps it's typical to turn to a religious life, to look for spiritual help. Who needs church or religion when you have enough money and you're not in need?

In this film, however, maybe money is just a symbol for resources that can help us to live more courageously and more honestly.

I don't claim to have always lived as courageously and as honestly as I would like to, but I am damn lucky in that I've had a lifetime of riches in non-monetary resources.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gaysian Weekend, Part 1

Who's getting old? Some of us queer Asian American men are getting older, that's who! And better, too, I hope.
Yesterday, there was an inaugural meeting/seminar for “Gay and Bisexual Asian Pacific Islander Men and Aging," organized by the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT).
I was able to attend the last half hour, after getting out of work, and I'm glad I made the effort to catch that much.
The meeting was for "Asian Pacific Islander men age 45 and older." I'm only 41 but I was pleased to be invited--if the last twenty years passed by as quickly as they did, how much faster will the next twenty go by?
Even in only the last thirty minutes, I wanted to respond to so much that was being said. I deliberately kept my mouth shut, though, and just listened.
The meeting helped me to realize that a group like this is important so that a specific resource such as this can be directly accessible.

Did that make any sense?

Let's break it down to role models. Most of us know (other) older Asian and Asian American men, straight and gay. But how many of them are actually specific role models for Asian American men like myself?
I really only have one resource where I have met older Asian American men that I hope to emulate someday, and that is East West Players. I haven't been involved in a theatre production with them for six years now. Other than the Asian American men that I see in public, men that are complete strangers, I don't have any personal acquaintances to hold up as this particular role model, that is, Asian American and older and gay.

I'll repeat: my life has been pretty easy, for the most part. All of my battles have been previously fought for me. I have not really suffered extreme persecution for either my ethnic identity, my religion, or even my sexual identity.

I see a group like this as an opportunity to be a part of setting new precedents for future generations.

Thanks to Russell Leong and Gil Mangaoang for facilitating and speaking at the event. And thanks to APAIT for organizing this first meeting in their Aging Series.

Gratitude, Part 2: What I Value Most

Focusing on what I am grateful for is both an excercise in prayer and a kind of meditation for me.
It's what I try to remember to turn to when I am getting bogged down by the negative attitudes and pessimism that are my emotional legacy.

What I Value Most:
A.) Safety and protection, security.
B.) A sense of humor.
C.) Peace of mind.

Being grateful for all of the above is part of my ongoing effort to not take any of what I have for granted. It is what I pray to continually receive.

Welcome to Peter's Plastic Bubble World.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Daily Gratitude

My Top 12 List of What I Am Grateful For:

1.) My current dogs and past dogs, including Caesar, the First and Best Pug.
2.) Domestic Partner. He is my stability.
3.) Our home.
4.) Transportation. My beat up scooter, and my on-its-last-wheels-crappy car. They get me to my destinations and back.
5.) Education, having finished college, finally, and the generous grant money that helped to cover tuition.
6.) Dance training.
7.) Any and all dance experience and performing that I've been able to do.
8.) Friends
9.) Family members
10.) My health (Domestic Partner thinks that that should be at the top of the list).
11.) Any earned income.
12.) The fact that I'm gay.

If I had ended up being heterosexual, my life would have turned out very differently.
Maybe I would have married Kathy D, my BFF, too early, too soon. Maybe I would have even gotten her pregnant first.
I've known Kathy for twenty-five years, now. She is "my Grace." She will always be my soul mate and Best Girlfriend. She is the Love of my Life.

And she always tells me it's a good thing that I'm gay because if we had married each other, she would've ended up having to strangle me.

Cookies? Yum!

Can anyone tell me if there's a cookie factory east of downtown L.A.? A bakery of sumptuous pastries? A Hostess outlet?

If you're ever driving east on the 101 freeway, just past downtown L.A., roll your window down and take a big whiff. Just past the Alameda exit, east of Union station, there is usually the most wonderfully potent aroma of fresh-baked cookies--the oh-so-familiar scent of butter, sugar, and vanilla combined.

I make sure to inhale deeply through my nose twice a day, on my way into work, and again on the way home. The scent makes me happy. I have good memories of grey, overcast days during Christmas vacation in Gardena, California, and feeling cozy indoors while Mom made holiday cookies. This was during the time that she was still a homemaker, before she had to start working full time.
Warm, snug, cheerful memories..

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lessons in Humility

My life is easy, in general.
Yesterday, I took a spill on my Suzuki scooter, on the way to work, and spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself.
That's as difficult as my life gets.
I get too confident sometimes, especially on my bike. As usual, I was feeling cool and smug, and then I took a u-turn too fast, cut it too sharp--right in front of the guy I was trying to cut in front of, too.
Yeah, that's cool.
He got out of his car to make sure that I was okay.
I had a couple of minor scrapes, on myself and on the scooter. And I had gotten road grease on Domestic Partner's Calvin Klein jeans.
It was my ego that suffered the most damage.
I'm just lucky that I didn't get run over when I was lying sideways on the asphalt with my scooter.
I'm lucky that the bike is still functional, that it still helps me to beat morning traffic into L.A. on the 10 freeway.
I always pray for safety when I'm riding my scooter, especially on the freeway. My bike is small and practically invisible, so I pray for protection from the foolishness of others. And I pray for protection from my own foolishness.

Now and then, my prayer request is to stay humble. It's a scary thing to pray for because I know that I am practically guaranteed to receive it.

Present Finances and Future Self

Today is pay day.
I did something a little scary. As part of my renewed effort to pay down debt, I took more than 40% of today's paycheck and used it to make a credit card payment. I should still have enough to buy groceries and pay other bills until the next paycheck.

"To Posterity!" That was always the opening line of PG's journal entries in high school. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was my first official fag hag. She had a crush on our school's choir director, a skinny man with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes. I did too, but I didn't confess that to her until after we had gotten out of high school, when I came out to her.

That was 1985. Who I Was, Who I Am, Who I'm Going to Be.
I often try to comfort my past self, the scared and insecure young man that I used to be. I feel relief and happiness that I've gotten over a lot of that former insecurity.
It's harder to reverse the process and reach out to my future self, so that he can comfort me now.
Although the image of my future self is vague and fuzzy, I am comforted by focusing on that image.
I continue to be optimistic.