Straight Crush

Nooooo no no!
We’re not doing this again!
I’m not signing up for weeks
(WEEKS, may I remind you?)
Of half-assed Shakespearean-esque soliloquies
While you look at yourself in the mirror
And cry.

I don’t care if he’s tall
And has a goatee
And talks with a Southern twang in his accent.
(Damn, he’s really cute though.)

HE’S STRAIGHT.
ARE YOU SLOW? (Sometimes, I wonder.)
DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?

And no, don’t say that “Oh but he seems like
He could be in the closet” nonsense.
Your GAYDAR can’t detect horseshit
Even if you’re BATHING
In it.

I mean,
I get it.
(Duh, I’m you.)
Your type of guy just happens to like
A lot of things that straight guys like.
Like video games.
And cargo shorts.
And flip flops (That’s a straight guy thing, right?)

Except girls. You don’t like girls.
But they do.
See how that’s a big problem?

So don’t put your heart and dick in your sleeves.
You know you’re gonna hurt yourself again if you do.
Just forget about him.
Find a new hobby
Move to a new state.
That way, no one gets hurt.
No one gets…
No one…
No…

You already fell for him,
didn’t you?

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Starbucks

My official label as a gay man
is a lot like a Starbucks drink order.
 
I can already see the barista
yelling over the counter.
“Cis gay Asian bear,
a shot of geekiness,
extra vanilla,
no kinks.”
 
It’s excessive, I know, but I’m happy with it.
 
Then the Barista squints
at the name on the cup.
“For… Pablo?”
 
It’s Paulo.
Fuck.

For Free

Good.
We’re not too far from each other.
Need some—
Ah, gotcha.
Should have known you’d be prepared.
Just ten minutes away by car.
No biggie.

You know, this always
Makes me think.
It’s almost hilarious,
Isn’t it?
Inside I feel empty.
And in just a few minutes,
For a few minutes,
I won’t be.

But I never get any closer to becoming a
Complete Person.

Eh, who gives a shit?
We both know what we want.
How we want it.
Just
How much
We need it.

I shouldn’t expect a miracle
when I’m getting this for free.

White Hair

I sat down on the chair closest to the door, staring into the endless illusion of the mirrors inside Lee’s Hair Salon. Chau gracefully draped the black nylon cape over my body. While I’ve been a loyal customer ever since I was 10 years old, it’s rare that Chau would cut my hair on her own. Normally one of the other barbers would do it as she took care of the female customers. At 9:30 in the morning, however, the salon was quiet save for the inane chatter of a small CRT TV attached to the ceiling. The bright white tile floors gleamed free of hair trimmings. The thought of destroying its temporary purity with my black hair made me grin.
We made eye contact through the mirror as she grabbed the hair clippers and a long brown comb. Chau’s black hair fell to her shoulders in large glossy curls. Her bright red lips popped from her fair skin, yet her overbite and large front teeth commanded to be seen. “What you want today?” She asked with a heavy Vietnamese accent. I told her to give me “the Usual,” causing creases to form on her face as she smiled widely. “Short on sides, spike up top.” She recited as she flipped the switch of the clippers and shaved the entire right side of my head in just three strokes.
“You have many white hair! Too young for white hair!” She exclaimed, raising her voice above the buzz of the clippers. We looked at each other in the mirror once again, and I saw her holding on to a long wispy white strand of hair still attached to the top of my head. From where I sat, I saw one more strand of white hair close to my forehead. “How many now? You had two long ago?” She turned off the clippers, looked at my shoulder and picked up the two white strands in the pile of freshly cut hair. I was amazed and horrified that she remembered where she first saw them.
I indulged her curiosity. I told her that I stopped counting. I was convinced that a few strands of white hair appear whenever a traumatic or life-changing event happens to me. The first two, I explained as she stared at the strands she held between her fingers, was from the time I drowned when I was 7 and from immigrating here when I was 9.
She returned the two strands carefully on my right shoulder, like they were bombs that could explode at any minute. I gave out a hearty laugh and said I didn’t mind divulging those two things. I asked her if she would like to count the rest that’s on my head; I was curious myself. With a small nod, she used the comb to probe through my thick black hair.
“Here. Three.” Chau proclaimed as she spotted the strand near my forehead.
From when that girl I didn’t even like in 7th grade shouted that I was ugly in front of the entire class.
Further up my head, Chau poked at two more strands of white in a sea of jet black. “Five!”
From when I finally accepted that I was gay.
At the top of my head, Chau gently pulled at the first strand she saw earlier. After a few seconds, she spotted two more, raising them up to meet the first strand. “Eight! That’s lots!”
From a car accident where I could have been crushed by an upside down flying car, and from dropping out of college twice. I’m sure two of the three strands were for that accident.
She moved on to the back of my head, where I felt her pull on two more strands. She just laughed, seemingly amazed at what she’s discovering in her expedition.
From when one of the first friends I made here in the US told me that he never wanted to see me again… From my first ever break-up.
Chau resumed shaving off my hair with the clippers. Just before she swiped at the left side of my head, she pulled on another strand of white hair and showed it to me in the mirror. She left it alone and shaved the hair off.
Eleven
Chau brushed off the small clippings of hair on my face with a brush before pulling the nylon cape off and scattering my hair all on the floor. I opted out of adding hair gel on my head, since I was gonna head home and shower anyway. I stared at myself for a few more seconds as she went up to the cash register near the door. “Hope no more bad things happen.” She chanted cheerfully. “But it’s okay. White hair means mature and smart. You’re already good, not like other people.”
I couldn’t help but grin. The screen on the cash register flashed “$13.00,” I grabbed a $20 bill in my wallet and handed it to her. I told her to keep the change, thanked her for the haircut and walked towards the door.
She sang “Thank you, come again!” behind me as I felt the wind on my scalp for the first time in months. Both black and white short hair strands on top of my head danced in the breeze.

“Homosexuality is a Choice” (Se dice de mi)

Being gay is a choice?
You think it is my choice?

To be gay is my decision,
Just an option, no precaution,
Sleep with men until exhaustion,
Just like dirty little sluts?
You think our brains are simply tainted,
Misguided and perverted,
With minds so corrupted,
Sticking dicks up in our butts?

Lay down with Adam, with Peter, or with John,
In bed together, and wake up right at dawn.
Will mark us winners,
And a prize as well.
Eternal damnation,
A ticket,
Straight to Hell?

Does that mean we chose,
To be discriminated ruthlessly,
Intimidated relentlessly,
And pushed until down we fell?

Systematically-selected to be shunned and be detested,
By the antiquated hatred in this world.
Constant threats of death and beatings and some may even throw things,
Nimbly dodging, once our rainbow flag’s unfurled?

Oh what a life
This truly is,
And just because of who we kiss!
What kind of man cannot resist
A cursed life so grand as this?

Forget respect, we’re over it.
We’ll take the hit and cry and sit.
Of course I kid about it all,
Sarcastic wit’s the wherewithal!
To disagree with your guess,
It’s the only way to stress,
That the answer all along is “No.”

And yet they still talk.
But they won’t ever say,

“Homosexuality’s found in nature,
Part of Earth’s own legislature,
And it’s not just some fiendish made-up ploy.”
Born this way, it’s all genetics,
Not cosmetic or synthetic,
Like a useless plastic toy.
It’s not at all infectious, like a disease.
You won’t shiver, or shake, or sneeze.

What crimes have we committed,
For simply being gay?
Aside, of course, for looking fabulous,
While wearing a beret?

You say that you’re enlightened.
To me, you’re mad and frightened.
Concerned with who we have sex with,
Every,
Single,
Day.

We just want to love each other, and spend time with one another,
Swear we wouldn’t be a bother, yes it’s true.
This isn’t something that you choose, believe it all, we’re not confused.
I’m really sorry that our views displeases you.

While being gay is not a choice,
There is a fact I’d like to voice.
It’s not for you to rejoice,
For it may sound a lot like noise.

When you throw sludge,
Then smear and smudge,
Unfairly judge,
When things won’t budge.
Don’t feel so bad when asked with sass,
If you really choose to be an ass.
Because, of course, the answer will not be “No.”

Nothing/Everything

At around 8 o’clock on Monday morning, a family friend jumped over a bridge and was struck by a train. The police ruled it as a suicide at 1PM later that day.

I’ve never met him before, but my parents knew him.

At 6pm my mom told me what had happened. Her voice trembled but she explained to me what she knew as she showed me a Washington Post article. I wish she didn’t tell me why he jumped.

The article had several updates. The first one, located at the bottom of the article, only had 3 sentences about the what, when, and where. They said that the trains will be delayed because a “trespasser” got on the tracks. My stomach did a back flip. A bone-chilling shiver went down my spine. Everything changed in the life of this man and they call him a trespasser.

There were pictures of tweets from the MTA about the incident, one with 11 retweets and 5 favorites on it.

There were also 11 comments in the article, but I knew better than to read them. I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know that it’s only going to make me feel terrible.

My mom told me that the family would most likely choose cremation for the body. My brain immediately thought that it was the best choice because an open-casket funeral viewing would probably be an awful idea. I wish that thought never went through my head.

At 10AM that morning, I stopped at the light on the intersection of 564 and Cipriano road as I head towards my friend’s place in Bowie. There were a ton of police cars right below the underpass. Yellow police tape ran along the side of the road. There were bystanders on the overpass above the train tracks, looking down through the chain-linked fence. Further down 564, traffic slowed down to a crawl once I got close to the train station. There were about 100 people just standing on the train platform, and even more people crossing the street to the 7-Eleven for food. I remember smiling a little bit as I saw some cute guy who looked angry as he stood under a tree. He was gonna be late for something and he was not happy. Now it makes me sick.

Yesterday afternoon I had to visit that same spot. I had to prove to myself that this didn’t affect me. I didn’t know him. I never saw his face. But I knew why he jumped. And with that knowledge, I wanted to know that nothing about me had changed. I drove by the section of the road where I saw the parked police cars. It was empty except for the long yellow police tape still blocking the side of the road. I wish I didn’t know why he jumped.

A train rushed by in the opposite direction.

Nothing and everything changed.

Star Gazer

Sometimes I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning. It’s a terrible habit. No matter how tired I am, I occasionally open my eyes at this time. Usually it’s followed by a sudden sense of panic and cursing at my phone for not activating the alarms I’ve set the night before. Then I look at the time and realize that it’s just my body thinking I have crew practice today. I tend to just go back to bed and sleep.

This time I didn’t. I checked the weather it looked incredibly clear. And I remembered last night that I saw the moon high up in the sky, so at this time of the night it should have already set on the horizon. These were optimal conditions to look at stars in the early morning skies. I would know; rowing teaches you to be an incredibly knowledgeable meteorologist.

When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an astronomer. The provincial life in the Philippines allowed me to see the night sky in its full glory. During some nights on the dry season, I would lay down on the dried up rice fields and stare up in the night sky, and try my best to spot the constellations I had seen in star maps and books my dad sent from the US. It wasn’t until I reached college when I realized that you needed to be incredibly gifted with math and physics to be an astronomer. I guess I only liked looking at the stars and planets. I liked the idea of gazing up at the sky and knowing what I’m looking at, and adding numbers and physics to that equation ruined that image in my head.

I sat on the front steps and looked up. The night sky was lit up by more stars than usual. The streetlight a few houses down was out, and my neighbor across the street forgot to turn on their porch light tonight, so it’s quite dark along my street. It seems like the world itself wanted me to watch the sky as best as I possibly could.

I looked for any of the familiar constellations that I can remember. Orion, the easiest to spot for me, wasn’t up in the sky. More than likely it has already set in the west at this hour. I did spot the Big Dipper, and so I immediately knew that the stars around it (though I wasn’t sure specifically which ones) made up Ursa Major.

Even though I didn’t want to be an astronomer, I’m still incredibly interested in astronomy. I watched a series of astronomy videos from the YouTube channel “Crash Course” and other astronomy-related ones whenever I can, so I like to think that I know a lot more about astronomy than the regular person. My enthusiasm for it only wanes if I know I’m the person who will be doing calculations and measurements, but if it’s already available and done by other people I’m ecstatic about the entire thing.

There were a spot in the sky that had 3 bright lights with a few dimmer stars around it. I wasn’t too familiar them, but I realized that one or two of the lights didn’t twinkle: planets.

I downloaded a free star gazing app on my iPhone (yes, looking at my phone as I stare in the dark sky seems counter-intuitive) and checked out the spot in the sky that I was looking at. This is what it showed me.

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It was Saturn and Mars, along with the bright red supergiant star of Antares. I spent about half an hour looking around some more before my neck started to hurt and I began to shiver from the cold morning. In all, I found 9 constellations and spotted 5 bright stars and 2 planets. It’s quite a haul for my first night.

All throughout that star gazing session, I felt at ease. I was a kid once again on that rice field. I stared up at the endless sky, looking at twinkling lights from giant balls of hydrogen trillions of miles away from us. I felt insignificant, like a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. But it didn’t make me feel helpless. I may be insignificant compared to a star, but with that perspective, my problems were just as insignificant as I was. I felt at ease because I remember my place in this universe, and I’m okay with not being in the center.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing this though. Living in the suburbs of DC means the it’s difficult to see the night sky due to light pollution. The unusually clear skies helped tonight. Maybe if conditions are optimal once again.

I should also see what I can do with my interest in astronomy. It’s not like I can be picky about what I want to do at this point in my life.