Different Extremes

My friend/boss and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both Chinese, we both struggled with Christianity in high school, and we’re both gay. And yet, our personalities are completely different.

When faced with the same obstacles (mostly stemming from being gay), we reacted differently. He became outspoken, confident, and self-assured. Instead of letting people make him feel bad or guilty about being gay, he grew strong and stopped caring what other people thought. He went out, met boys, and lived life. His confidence helps him excel in business.

I, on the other hand, became reserved, insecure, and self-conscious. I let the guilt of being gay consume me. I always felt distant and inferior to other people. Normal people. Even now, at work, I feel inferior to both clients and coworkers. I’m afraid to make phone calls to clients. I always read over my emails multiple times to make sure I don’t sound like an idiot, and even then I’m sure I still come across as one.

It’s interesting how different we are. Being gay shaped who we are, but we went to different extremes. His extreme was probably the better one. After all, he is the boss.

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Sin Without Action

I hung out with a friend from college today. We went shopping for video games, played multiplayer games wirelessly on Nintendo DS, and went out to dinner. It was really relaxed, light, and fun. Good times.

This friend of mine is a Christian, very firm in his beliefs. I was a Christian when I met him, and we became good friends through religion and video games. It hit him hard when I came out to him. He still believes that homosexuality is a sin, but he didn’t want to lose our friendship over it.

I didn’t want to lose his friendship either. So even though he knows I’m gay, I don’t talk about boys or dating with him very much (usually only vaguely and briefly). We’re still close in other ways.

All these thoughts about religion and homosexuality got me thinking. I don’t have much experience with dating and relationships, and I’ve basically lost all hope that I ever will find a boy who will love me. I’m starting to be okay with that. So here’s my question. If I never actually find someone to love and “be gay with,” then how different am I from a straight guy who never finds love? In particular, does the church frown upon a celibate (not by choice) gay boy?

I know some Christians denounce impure thoughts as sin too. But honestly, I don’t have that many of those. My fantasies are about holding hands and hugging (usually with clothes on). Is that still a sin? Is just being gay enough to send me to hell?

When I was a Christian, I felt really guilty all the time. When I was alone, I used to cry because I was gay. I prayed that I would be normal. I thought about hell and homosexuality pretty often. But now, this whole discussion doesn’t really bother me anymore. I’m just curious.

Studying Time

My studying isn’t going well. Because I work the evening shift at Target, I end up sleeping pretty late (like 3am) and then get up late the next morning. I loaf around, take my time drinking my morning coffee, and don’t really get ready for the day until the middle of the afternoon. As a result, I don’t study much before going to work (if I even get the motivation to study at all).

I didn’t get a chance to study today. By the time I was ready to go study for a couple hours before work, a friend unexpectedly dropped by to play video games. While it was fun to hang out (I don’t see many people these days), I’m wasting a lot of valuable time.

The next actuarial exam is in May, so I technically have a few months to study, but I keep getting surprised by how fast time is flying these days. How is it the middle of January already? While I’ve heard the next exam is easier than the first, I can’t underestimate it.

Today was my sixth consecutive day of work, and I have the next three days off. I already know my friends want to hang out this weekend (I rarely get the weekend off), but I’m feeling pretty guilty about not studying enough. My problem with time management is really frustrating me. I really want to make good on my New Year’s resolution.

Guilty Indulgence

I went out to dinner with some high school friends tonight. We ate at Olive Garden, my favorite Italian chain restaurant. I got my favorite dish, the “Tour of Italy,” which is a sampler platter of chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and fetticune alfredo. Why choose what you want to eat if you can have it all?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a large quantity of food. I’ve been trying to lose weight and keep it off, so I haven’t been indulging myself too much. As a result, a meal that was once easy to polish off became pretty intimidating. While I did finish the Tour of Italy, I felt like I shouldn’t have. All the effort I put going to the gym four times a week feels like it’s gone down the drain.

After dinner, we ended up going to Pinkberry, a trendy frozen “yogurt” place that started in LA. It’s technically not yogurt, but it’s still almost healthy, relative to all the other desserts out there. You can get an assortment of toppings on the frozen “yogurt,” including freshly cut fruit (with no added syrups), cereal (like Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Pebbles), chocolate chips, almonds, and Oreo bits. Trying to stay healthy, I got mango, strawberries, and blueberries on my medium sized frozen “yogurt.” Even still, I felt like I was spoiling myself too much, especially since I had just had a whole Tour of Italy.

At first, I felt guilty for indulging myself so much tonight. But thinking about it, I feel a little strange that I felt guilty. Am I so obsessed with my weight and body image that I can’t enjoy an evening with my friends and eat some of my favorite foods? It’s been months since I’ve had such a calorie-rich evening, and I’m sure there won’t be another one for a while. One night isn’t going to cause irreparable damage to my health, so why am I so worried? I don’t even have scheduled cheat days on my diet like some people (I have a friend who has those every Friday).

No matter what, I already ate all that food. I’m just going to go back to my normal diet and exercise plan. I’m sure I’ll be fine. It’s so rare for me to hang out with my friends these days. If the cost of hanging out with them is a few hundred extra calories, then it’s worth the sacrifice.

Pride

Last night my mom and I went to a reception to celebrate the Republic of China (Taiwan) National Day. My mom gets invited to all sorts of events. We ran into a bunch of my mom’s friends, as well as the parents of some of my high school friends.

A big part of these events and seeing old friends is to talk about how great your children are. All parents like to brag about their kids, but in the Chinese culture, the family’s reputation is everything. Any shame (of any magnitude) is unmentioned to “save face.”

Here is a big example. My mom’s friends sometimes ask if she only has two sons, to which she replies yes. She makes no mention of the daughter (my sister) she had from her first marriage, because divorce is shameful. Clearly her good friends know better, but for more casual friends, she basically denies my sister’s existence.

One of my mom’s friends mentioned being a grandmother, and she asked whether my mom is a grandmother yet. When my mom said not yet, her friend turned to me and said “Give your mom the chance.” I shrugged and smiled awkwardly.

It’s events like the one last night that make me think about how I will only bring my family shame. Right now, I’m seen as a good son. I go with my mom to social functions (I have respect for my elders and fulfill my duties as a son), I got a masters (I’m “smart”), and I’m studying to be an actuary (a respectable profession since it makes a lot of money and requires some brains). Once people find out I’m gay, all of that means nothing. Not wanting to marry a woman and have (biological) children to carry on the family name and bloodline is beyond ordinary disgrace.

There are days when I accept who I am. I like boys, and I can’t imagine being straight. It just isn’t me. But then there are days when I really wish I wasn’t gay. On those days, the fact that I’m gay gives me immense guilt and fear. Inevitably, I will let my parents down by just being me.

My parents sometimes say that I’m free to do whatever makes me happy. I just hope that what makes me happy also makes them proud.