Underneath my yellow skin

Invisible like me

I am invisible in several ways. First, Asian as a race is usually ignored in America. When racism is talked about, it’s always about black people. I get it. Racism against black people is the worst, literally, in America. And Latinos will get a mention now and again. Oh, and when the pandemic hit, there was a hot second of concern for Asians who were getting bashed (because of the “China” virus), but that was it.

And I get that what Asians go through in general is not as bad as what blacks go through. But. At the same time. It was difficult to grow up in the seventies in Minnesota as an Asian girl. My food was laughed at because it was decades before Chinese (mine was Taiwanese, but similar) became fashionable. I was awkward, fat, and miserable. I had no friends, and I was the proverbial fish out of water.

In addition, we have been considered the model minority beacuse waves of East Asians came to America for college/grad school. I have been told in all earnesty that Asian people are so smart. Back in my twenties, my cheeky reply was that all the unintelligent people were in Asia. Not a nice thing to say, but not untrue, either. Not meaning that Asian people are less smart than Westerners, but that with nearly 2 billion Eastern Asians, there are bound to be some who are not as smart as Westerners.

In the sixties and seventies, many East Asian people came to America to study. Many stayed here for opportunities and did not return to their home countries. This is called a brain drain, and it was a big problem back then. In addition, people who come to Ameria from Asia to study are very driven and the cream of the crop (school-wise). In my parents’ case, my father was extremely driven and got a Fulbright Scholarship. In my mother’s case, she’s very smart and worked hard to get here as well. They both had to be at the top of their game, schoolwise to even be considered to be allowed to come to America to study.

In Taiwan, you have to declare your major for college as you enter high school. Plus they went to school for something like ten hours a day. It was brutal. As my mother expalined it to me, school was hard until grad school where it’s then a party. She found it bizarre here that school was pretty much a breeze until college.

Other categories in which I fit that have no place in this world: religion, gender, suxual, generation, marital/parental status. In order, i’m areligious, agender, bi, X, single and childfree. Concerning religion, it’s often Christian, Judaism, and Islam that are the big three. Atheists are known, but reviled. Gender, it’s male, female, and nonbinary (with trans people being acknowledged, finally!). Generation-wise, it’s Boomers and Millennials and nothiing between. It’s fascinating, really, how both Gen X and Gen Z have been erased from the conversation. Boomer is shorthand for old people and Millennial is shorthand for kids today. The oldest millennial is over 40! I mean. Come on. They are married and have kids. But, yes, tell me about kids these days, those millennials.

I like to joke that we Gen Xers were called slackers so often that we decided as a generation to drop out. It’s a joke, but it’s not really. People my age are never mentioned, and to be fair, we like it that way. But it’s strange that as a generation, we kind of got ethered. I understand being invisible as an Asian, but a whole generation never mentioned is bizarre.

Bisexual is the sexual identity that gets overlooked all the time. When I first came out, I had gay people scoff at me. One lesbian said in a very condescending manner that she, too, had been bi on her way to becoming a lesbian. I look her in the eyes and said that if I had to choose, it would be straight because I liked dick too much to give it up. Which is still true, but there is much more nuance to that answer now. Yes, I like dick, but I prefer spending my time with not male people (in general. There are specific exemptions, of course). To be frank, I don’t do well with too much testosterone for a long period of time.

I tried out omnisexual (ugh) and pansexual (meh), but neither really resonated with me. Bisexual doesn’t really sit well with me, either, especially as I do not want to be restricted by the binary, but when I think of it as ‘people like me and people not like me’ (as the binary), it’s more palatable. Plus, I always call it bi rather than bisexual, which for whatever reason, makes it less wince-inducing to me.

I wish I could just call it sexual, but I know how that sounds. And it’s not just about sex, obviously. It goes back to gender doesn’t matter to me. If I like someone, I like them, regardless of what equipment they have. I appreciate that bit, but it’s not the main focus. That’s why I get freaked out (and this tiptoes over into gender identity) when people are so gender determinist because it just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

I keep coming back to a thread on the weekend forum at Ask A Manager about if a single woman and a married man could be friends. There were some thoughtful responses, but even some of them were predicated on tired old gender stereotypes. There were so many rules and regulations, it amazed me.

Side note: This is one area in which queer people break the mold, thankfully. In part because queer communities can be small, you can’t put that hard line between friends and not friends. Meaning, that ex-lovers may be friends. People you’re attracted to may be friends. The rules are not so hard and fast as they seem to be in the straight world.

Anyway, this thread was mostly women and they were cautioning the original poster (OP, a woman) about how sshe had to put all these boundaries around the friendship. Most of them seemed to assume that she met him after he married whereas in my situation, I was friends with the man first. Anyway, they were listinng off all these things like always including the wife (no), not texting too often (no), and a bunch of other meaningless rules.

The one comment that haunted me, though, was the woman who said she was the QUEEN of her marriage (and I’m pretty sure she wrote it like that) and there was no room for any other woman. She even said that people who were nonbinary didn’t count because…I can’t remember, but it was bullshit. I grew up with the same gender bullshit in this society as everyone else. It’s not like I’ve been immune to it. But to be so insecure to the point that if ‘your man’ even talks to another woman outside of when he absolutely has to, that’s a diss on you? That’s avery sad world.

I went off the rails again. That’s ok. That’s how I do it all the time, and I’m done for the day.


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