I’m J. C. I’m from Manila. That’s the capital of the Philippines. I grew up there. I moved to the U. S., specifically New York, in 2005 at the tender age of 21.
Moving to New York was an adventure. You know, I mean I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to go to grad school here. And I took that opportunity and it opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities including exploring myself.
Earlier on when I just moved to the US I was so happy because you can be gay, you can be yourself, and can do whatever you want. It was like the advent of, of the emergence of social media and social connection – social networks. And people talk primarily through chat rooms.
I was talking to this guy and we were talking probably like a good hour. We traded pictures but usually we trade not face-first, you trade your body pictures. And then, I mean I looked light-skinned in that picture for some reason and so he just assumed I was kind of white. And then I said I was Asian. He said, “Oh. Sorry buddy. You know, you seem to be a cool guy, but I’m not into Asians.”
You know, of course, it affected my self confidence. I didn’t know how to respond initially because I am new. I grew up in a different culture. And I thought America’s more welcoming to people from other places.
Three years after that, still with a defeated, you know, self-ego, I was on my way to Fire Island waiting for a friend of mine. We agreed that we’re gonna meet up at the train station – Jamaica. I was waiting for my train and then I saw him coming through the aisle. And there were these two white guys in front of us. Again, at first, they were chuckling and I didn’t know what the reason was. I just ignored it. And then they kind of like started pointing at my friend who was having difficulty walking through the aisle.
And then they started laughing because they said, “Look at that Asian guy going to Fire Island.”
And they chuckled. So I tried to ignore it because you know, I mean, you can interpret that in many ways. And then one of them said that, “Who would fuck him?” So I kind of like you know, tried to tap one of them and I said, “Hey guys, another Asian guy behind you. Not that I’m eavesdropping but I think that was not funny.”
But they were nice enough that they apologized and they said, you know, “We were just joking, that was very insensitive of us.”
And you know I took their apology and it gave me kind of like a – you know, that was the first time I actually thought that, you know, if you stand up and then if you call out people, you actually stop the behavior or at least you feel that you did something for yourself.
I’ve met a lot of friends who I consider are all like brothers and or sisters. And they’re like amazing friends. And even them, I have, like, multiple experiences where they would make the same exact kind of, like, statements.
One good example is while we were in Uber going to a party after pregame, they’re looking through their Grindr and then they’re like you know browsing through the boys. And then they saw this one picture of a guy and then they’re like, “He’s cute… hot” you know. And then one of them said “He looks Asian. Move.”
And I said, “Guys, I’m right next to you. There’s only three of us here on the backseat. Now I mean, what do you mean by that? You know, I thought we were friends.”
And they apologized, which is good because they’re my friends.
But deep inside it does affect me. And it does affect how I see myself and how to communicate with other people. It is important for me to speak up for myself and for others because if I don’t and they don’t, nobody will. We live in a very diverse society and we have, each of us has, a role to play and has something to give.