100w100d: Lesbians

Day 99: Lesbians have a bad rep. As easy as it may be to make softball or Home Depot jokes, there isn’t a stronger community than these unsung heroes. While others may call them “tomboys”, I see them as defying gender roles and stereotypes. From Ellen to Allison Goldfrapp, I’ve been shaped and deeply inspired by their tenacity and endurance.

It’s silly how gay men and lesbians can sometimes be seen as on opposite sides when we’re always fighting the same fight and we’re so much alike. They are the epitome of cool and fierce and I wouldn’t dare of crossing them.

100w100d: Hatchet

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Day 97: Earlier this week I reached out to a great guy I used to date, the one that got away, and we finally got together today as if nothing happened. We talked and talked, drank and drank, and everything just felt so… easy.

Sometimes a hatchet isn’t really a hatchet but a grip that you simply need to let go of. Yes, things happened in the past, but at the end of the day I’m just happy I’ve decided to reach out to an otherwise someone I’ve lost touch with. He’s such a genuine guy and I’m smitten as can be.

100w100d: Coexistence

#HappyHolidays

Day 95: As much of a Christmas nut as I am, my parents are surprisingly less so — they’re probably the least festive people you’ll ever meet. Thankfully, we were invited to a Christmas dinner this year, hosted by one of my parent’s church friends.

Being a non-religious gay man, it would’ve been easy to brush off the invite and retort with a snarky, self-important joke. Instead I’m so grateful to be invited to take part in celebrating their most important day of the year.

A lot of people wish for world peace, and learning to coexist is the first step toward that.

100w100d: AIDS

Day 73: HIV/AIDS is a forgotten subject. It’s extinct not because it’s no longer relevant but because it remains a heavy stigma and no one wants to be the downer who brings it up in our daily conversations.

I volunteered at a non-profit called Bay Positives in 12th grade, and that place taught me that the topic doesn’t need to be heavy, though the conversation does need to continue to prevent the spread of HIV while empowering those who have it to live happier, productive lives.

On this World AIDS Day, I urge everyone to get tested and talk about it.

100w100d: West Hollywood

Lit Darkness 3

Day 55: My experiences at West Hollywood are not unlike the beginning of every sappy, gay-themed movie ever created. Wandering along Santa Monica Boulevard surrounded by bass-thumping bars and beautiful people, I can’t help but feel mediocre.

There by the traffic light, I’d wait for my shining knight with a sharp jaw line in a ridiculously tight tank to come take me away, leading me to the ending I can only dream of.

Of course nothing ever happens, yet I’m so trained by those movies that something always does: a happenstance, a wallflower discovered, something irritatingly cheesy.

Maybe at the next light.

100w100d: Tales of Us

Tales of Us by Goldfrapp

Day 41: A while back, I dated this guy who introduced me to Goldfrapp. I’ve heard of their music before but mostly in dance clubs; through him I learned that those few tracks I knew was but a small part of their musical kaleidoscope.

My life changed when Seventh Tree dropped in 2007. Never before could music transport me to such a vivid dreamscape. My relationship with him eventually ended but that album carried me through — it was the experience that mattered.

Tales of Us just came out and again it’s taking me to a dream; I can’t help but to surrender.

100w100d: Pride Weekend

I was going to turn this black and white to go with the monochromatic theme I've been doing this year. But my friend said said this is about Pride and Pride is all about the colors. He's right.

Day 24: It’s easy to wonder “Why is it necessary to flaunt about their sexuality?” or ask “Why can’t we have straight pride parades?”, but Pride is honestly something you have to be there to really understand it.

To me, Pride weekend isn’t just “a gay thing”. It’s a day where everyone can break free of any pre-conceived notions of who we’re supposed to be and instead celebrate who we simply are.

We spend so much time worrying, stressing, and obsessing what and how others see us, it’s important to take time to reflect and to put our pure happiness on display.

100w100d: Best Part of Being Gay

Confessions on the Dance Floor

Day 4: How can you summarize being gay in 100 words, let alone explain the best part of it?

I can’t force anybody to believe that homosexuality isn’t a choice, though ironically the best part of it — this freedom to love yourself — is adaptable by anyone regardless of sexuality.

By coming out, we’ve accepted and embraced who we love, but we’re also liberated from any bullshit gender roles Society has arbitrarily place on everybody else. Who says pink is for girls? Who says gays can’t be bros? We don’t give a shit. Because what are you going to do, call us gay?

On Vince Tyler, 13 years after Queer As Folk

Cover of Queer As Folk UKIt was about 13 years ago since I first watched the British version of Queer as Folk, something that led to my coming out that very summer. I was 16.

Not completely out at the time, the 15-year old Nathan character was loitering in the gay district of Manchester, UK, and eventually got picked up by the much older, very sexual Stuart where the story began. Nathan didn’t just come out of the closet — he flat out exploded out of the closet, and at the time that was something I thought I had to do in my conservative Chinese family. There was just no other way.

But as much as I was trying to relate to Nathan (mostly due to our similarity in age), it was Vince, Stuart’s best friend, who completely captivated me. Geeky, handsome, and a constant giver to Stuart, it was Vince that I was most related to. Being 16 at the time, Vince seemed like the perfect man, not to mention someone I hope to eventually become.

Craig Kelly as Queer As Folk's Vince Tyler
Vince Tyler in Queer As Folk (UK)

Just recently, Queer as Folk was brought on to Netflix, and in the past week I’ve been re-watching, and re-living, the entire series.

I don’t think there’s anyone in my life, other than my friend Florent, who will quite understand my obsession with Vince. 13 years since finishing the series, I can still recite most of Vince’s dialogues. (“There’s always some new bloke, some better bloke, just waiting around the corner. That’s why you keep going out.”) He’s just as geeky, charming, and relatable as the first time I saw him on my Aiwa 12″ CRT television-VCR combo I picked up at Costco with my then-clueless dad.

Then something happened. I was surprised to find out that Stuart and Vince were not “much older” as I initially had in mind. They were actually 29. I’m 29.

Looking at where I am in life, it’s not a far-fetch to say that, Stuart aside, I have pretty much become Vince. I may not be as big of a Doctor Who fan as he is, but in terms of hitting that geeky, adorable, “I’m everybody’s friend” niche, there are at times little difference between watching him on the show and staring at myself in the mirror. (My closest friends even call me Wins for Pete’s sake.)

Stuart: You’ve done nothing Vince. You go to work, you go for a drink, you sit and watch cheap science fiction. Small and tiny world. What’s so impressive about that, what’s there to love?
Vince: …yeah.
Stuart: It was good enough for me.

Now, I know — there’s nothing wrong with being everybody’s friend. But there is also this side of Vince I’ve never noticed before. The part where he’s full of insecurities and how he’s constantly picking up after Stuart. What I once saw as commitment and loyalty I am now reminded of that line from Train’s Drop of Jupiter: …a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land.

Vince: Unrequited love. It’s fantastic, ’cause it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die!

Of course, not all is bad. At the end of the day I am my own person. I have my faults just as much as my strengths, just like Vince and everybody else on the face of this blue planet. For every blunder I’ve had in the past, I’ve also had an equal amount of accomplishments with my family, my career, and in myself. The fact that I’m openly writing about my sexuality (and also sharing the link on Twitter & Facebook where my friends, family, and co-workers will see) is something I could not do even a couple years before.

Who were you at 16 and who are you now? It’s easy to think you’re still that nervous, insecure child, stagnant of any growth. But just like most things you create, it’s sometimes more helpful to give it some room and come back to look with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll be surprised to see just how much you’ve grown.

❤ wins


Winson Shuen works at IGN but is not an editor. All opinions expressed here are solely his own and do not represent his employer by any means. You can follow him on Twitter @vdot90.