It was a cold and rather boring night out in San Francisco when my tired eyes glanced over to the dance floor and noticed him. He had an amazing smile with these incredible dimples you could do shots out of. He wore an earring, which I usually think is pretty douchey but it looked hot on him, and a white, loose-fitting t-shirt as if to say “gay fashion pretense be damned, I like this shirt and it deserves more exposure than weeknights in front of the TV.” He was handsome, cute, a good dancer, and… he wasn’t Asian!
He was… I dunno, Puerto Rican? Does it matter? In a crowded dance floor I not only noticed a non-Asian, but I was actually attracted to him. This was a breakthrough! This was awesome! I know I always say I’m open to any race, but finally I had a chance to prove it!
Unfortunately, I had been watching him from my seat atop the subwoofer in the corner of the club where my friends had abandoned me to go solicit free drinks from the old men at the bar. I was bundled up in a frumpy sweatshirt, and my hair no doubt looked like I had just woken up. I had not been planning on meeting anyone that night, and I most certainly had not brought my A-game. So I could only sit there and watch as he said something to some other guy, and they walked off the dance floor together.
It had been a long weekend, and it was only Saturday night. On Friday I had driven alone for five hours in my cruise-control-less car to San Francisco, crashed a friend’s friend’s dinner party, then around midnight headed out to Dragon, the club that any gay Asian in San Francisco will tell you “is horrible” or that “nobody goes to anymore” and then secretly attends every Friday night.
I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest of Friday night by describing to you my Saturday morning: Wake up, barf, sleep, go get pho, smell the pho, barf, sleep, sleep, dry heave, sleep, eat cold leftover pho… which brings us to 7pm when I was back to my normal self except for the hair-trigger gag reflex at anything that even rhymed with alcohol (fortunately, that’s not a very long list… schmalcohol?).
That was the reason why I was stone-cold sober that night. Why I was bundled up in a sweatshirt. Why I sat alone on the subwoofer. Why I had no faith in my ability to walk up to somebody and make any sort of favorable impression. Why I let what could have been my first non-Asian walk away.
But then, something amazing happened.
In my peripheral vision, I noticed someone in a white t-shirt walk up beside me. I turned to look up and… it was him.
I don’t recall exactly what his line was, but it was probably something like, “Why are you sitting on the subwoofer like a loser?” To which I might have said, “I like that 808 bump on my junk.” Then he smiled with those dimples again. It was on!
We moved to a part of the bar more conductive to conversation, and things just got better and better. Not only was he a hottie, but he was also funny, smart, charming, and employed. And then I asked him where he’s from.
I could hear the apostrophe.
Hawaii… like native Hawaiian… like Pacific Islander… like he checks the box for Asian/Pacific Islander!
Shit, I did it again!
I’d never really liked the term “rice queen” before, which is why I was so excited when I thought that the guy I found so attractive wasn’t Asian. The term carries certain stereotypes that I generally don’t like. There’s one really good definition over at Urban Dictionary (go give it a thumbs up so it stays at the top of the list), but most of the others are, well… here’s one:
“A non-Asian gay male who is predominantly physically attracted to other gay males of Asian descent, usually significantly younger. Similar to the phenomenon plaguing Asian women in the western world, the ‘rice queen’ objectify, sexualize, and demoralize his Asian counterpart. Vice versa, the Asian male in the partnership internalize this colonial, imperialistic, and racist worldview, and will come to believe that by dating a non-Asian, this will increase his social status within the local gay community. It is NEVER ‘just an attraction’.”
As disgusting and ignorant as that definition is, there probably are some relationships out there to which it applies (perhaps a relationship that that author was in once, hence the bitterness). But certainly not all Asian/non-Asian relationships are this way, and certainly not any that I’ve been part of.
However, since that perception is out there, and since my own insecurities made me afraid of being branded as such, I was looking for ways to prove that I wasn’t just a rice queen.
Although I would never sleep with someone just to prove a point (unless that point is that I can turn Jay Chou gay), I was always on the lookout for non-Asian guys that I was naturally attracted to. That night in San Francisco, I’d come so close…
While a superficial part of me was disappointed that he turned out to be Asian-ish, that wasn’t going to drive me away from a guy that great, and we ended up spending the rest of the weekend together. In that time, he confessed to me that he had actually been trying not to meet guys who were… well, he didn’t use the term “rice queen,” but that’s exactly what he meant.
But by then it was too late for either of us. Those two words couldn’t compete with the midnight stroll through the Castro that followed; trespassing through a playground, pretending not to notice a couple having sex on a park bench, and gazing at the stars together.
Since that weekend, we’ve stayed in touch and visited each other several times. I consider him one of my very good friends, and I’m so glad my juvenile efforts to find a non-Asian guy didn’t drive me away from him or him away from me; that what we each thought we wanted didn’t stop us from getting what we actually wanted.
That weekend I accepted that I like who I like, and any haters could just get over it, because I’m not going to tailor my behavior to avoid their judgment. “Rice queen” doesn’t define me, I define it.
So that’s why I named my blog “Confessions of a Rice Queen.” To acknowledge the stereotype, to claim the label as my own, and to reshape the definition in a positive and more accurate light.
…or maybe it was just easier branding than “Confessions of a Gay White Guy Who Happens To Take A Liking To Gay Asian Guys Most Of The Time But Is Open To Other Races But Still Will Probably End Up With An Asian Guy.” (I think that domain was already registered anyway.)