It’s true in anyone’s life that the family you’re born into isn’t the only family you’ve got. There’s the family that you find for yourself amongst your closest peers and mentors, but there’s also the family that finds you…
It was a regular night of drinking and dancing at one of my favorite clubs in West Hollywood, GameBoi night at RAGE. (GameBoi will need to get its own CORQ blog treatment in the near future, but for now, let’s just describe it as a pan-Asian buffet without the food poisoning). I was dancing with my boyfriend at the time — and by “dancing” I do mean dry humping while trying not to spill my drink amidst the sea of Asian guys packed in tighter than the last Tokyo subway car of the night — when I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a tall, stylish Asian guy, dancing next to me. I think I got a buzz off the alcohol on his breath as he leaned in and screamed over the music, “My friend think you’re cute!” And pointed into the crowd at nobody in particular.
Well, dancing led to a sobering-up 2am IHOP run and throwing up in the parking lot (you know, typical Friday night stuff), which led to him crashing on the floor of my boyfriend’s apartment. The next day he woke up, thanked us, and before he left he informed me, “We brothas now.”
And that was how I met my Asian brotha.
The family I grew up in was pretty traditional. Two married parents (one male, one female — worth specifying these days, and yes, they were married when they got pregnant with me — also worth specifying), me, the oldest kid, and my younger sister. My parents both grew up in southern California, which is where I was born, raised, went to school, and now live and work. Visiting family (or more commonly, being visited by my family) has never been a geographic challenge — we see each other all the time! So despite the fact that I recoil whenever my mom tries to kiss me on the lips (weird!), or roll my eyes when my dad texts me pictures of the cat doing something cute, I consider myself very lucky to have them not only interested in being part of my life, but also so available to be.
I have a lot of friends who aren’t so lucky. Since 90% of my friends are Asian, many of them were born in Asia, and their families still live there. My sister recently moved to New York, and I think it’s tough being so far from her, I can’t imagine how difficult it is living in a different continent! One of my friends hasn’t seen his family in almost 8 years.
While some are separated by physical distance, still others are separated by emotional distance. Most of my friends are also gay, and some of them either feel like they can’t come out to their families, and therefore can’t fully invite their family into their lives, or even more saddening is the small number who have come out to their families, only to be cut off for the most part by denial or homophobia.
My Asian brotha falls a little into both categories. His closest family is something like 9000 miles away, and he only gets to see them every few years. So it makes sense — the whole brotha thing — and I’ve been onboard with it since the beginning.
It started out as a fun and funny way to introduce ourselves when going out. It immediately helped with wingman-status (which he is the master of), by making it crystal clear that he and I were most certainly not together, had no intention to be, and never had been.
Well, there was that one time…
He’s a character, and there is no doubt going to be a lot of posts on this blog involving this special sibling of mine. Over the 4 years we’ve known each other, the cute “brotha” thing has become more of a real familial relationship (although it’s still a fun conversation starter — “Here, meet my brotha…”).
This past winter, it became high time that he meet my family. I was probably more nervous leading up to that introductory dinner than when I came out to my family. What if they didn’t like him? What if he embarrassed me? What if my family embarrassed me? What if my family embarrassed him?
Dinner came and before dessert was even ordered, they were all Facebook friends. As we parted ways after dinner, my dad hugged and mom kissed their Asian son goodbye (she didn’t try for the lips, thank God!), and my sister planned to go clubbing with us that night. I never had anything to worry about.
All of my anxiety leading up to that dinner was completely in my head. Of course my Asian brother was sweet and charming and won them over. Of course my family was welcoming and loving and accepted him into the family. I was the only jerk who had any doubts!
In the months following that dinner/adoption ceremony, he visited my sister in New York and they hung out pretty much every night for a week. He took care of her after they chugged mimosas for 5 hours, and she forgot on which street she lived. I haven’t even had the pleasure of doing that!
What a good brother!
He sometimes posts on my Facebook wall “when we going to visit mom?” which, of course my mom “likes” then calls me and pleads for her sons to come visit.
What a good son!
He reminds me of the family I sometimes take for granted. By meeting him, I not only gained a new family member, but a new appreciation of the family I already had. He really is part of my family now. Not just a brotha, he’s a brother.
Oh, he’s also classy. I had to mention that.