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Thanks to globalization, America is home to people from different cultural backgrounds. The existence of people from different cultures has contributed cultural diversity in America. Tension may arise from people of different cultural identities leading to racial and sexual discrimination on a regular basis. There are people of different sexual orientation in America including gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender forming a community called LGBTQ.
Cultural diversity and difference in sexual orientation has created one community; the LGBTQ community united by a common practice. However, the difference in cultural background has also brought bout challenges for some races even within the LGBTQ communities. While there are numerous ethnicities, the Asian gay men are discriminated by the society, their cultures, and also stereotyped within the LGBTQ community. De Angleis notes that “some cultures within our culture are still very homophobic.” Our culture refers to the American culture. One such culture is the Asian culture. Gay men of Asian or some Asian origin find it difficult to come out due to the immense pressure conferred upon them by their family members and their community. Their culture strongly advocates for reproduction to further the lineage and is also strongly against homosexuality. This causes a disconnection between the person and family, breaking positive communication, causing the Asian gay man to pursue independence. Asian gay men are further stereotyped by fellow gay men. There is the aspect of racism within the LGBT community where the white gay men are considered, or consider themselves superior and Asians inferior and less masculine. Research studies have shown that ethnicity plays an active role in intercultural dating which have often created emotional distress due to the frustration that minority identities experience in their relations. Although measures like the APA’s Guideline to Counsel LGBTQ Clients have been put in place, implementation and results are still wanting.
Chan notes that Asians are stereotyped because of how they look like. Chan considers this to be the driving force behind this identification. Asian gay men face different challenges and difficulties because of their cultural identities in the society. There are those that have a very strong connection to the fact that they are also Asians and ignore their sexual orientation considering that they merely pertains to who they choose to date. On other hand, others consider their sexuality more important than their connection to the Asian heritage. This indicates that Asian gay men face many challenges and difficulties in the society, especially in the Lesbians, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender (LBGT) community.
One challenge identified is disconnection particularly from family members. Asian gay men feel or get disconnected from their families. One respondent attributed this to the difference in perspective and lack of exposure and education about homosexuality to their parents. He says: “They don’t know, they can’t see beyond the emotion aspect, they see it as a physical thing, and that is really repulsive to them.” The comment refers to the parents and how they perceive homosexuality. Another respondent said he was acting like a completely different person. He has not felt the need for his family and has not needed them since identifying himself with LGBTQ community. He notes this because there is a disconnect between him and his family and he does not feel the need to reconnect with them. He says: “I still don’t feel comfortable reconnecting with them, because I’ve been so independent for so long, and I haven’t needed them.” He considers it his life lesson to accept them for whom they are and that they might come around. On the lack of education and exposure about homosexuality, one respondent said: “My dad only had a middle school education, my mom only had an elementary school education. I come to accept that this is their upbringing, and they didn’t really have exposure to homosexuality.” Such issues hamper communication between the Asian gay person and his family, precisely parents. This consequently makes it harder for him to reconnect or make amends with his family. Another respondent supports financial independence and says if one is planning to come out: “You have to be financially prepared.” He says if one is financially independent it is easier to come out. This drives their need for independence as noted by Ridge, Hee & Minichiello, due to discrimination from family members and society for belonging to the LGBTQ community.
Another challenge is intense pressure from family members. This is not just any kind of pressure but the pressure to reproduce and continue their generation. One respondent noted that having “three sons is the best thing that can happen to an Asian family…” this ensures the family line goes on. Because being in a gay relationship cannot further the family line through reproduction, it puts a lot of pressure leading to self-blame now and then. One respondent said: “I feel I have the burden to produce children for my family. I felt like I was a really awful child and I was disappointing her.” – by “her” he meant his mother. These challenges also come out in the work of Bryson who notes that Asian gay men may face challenges due to conflicting cultural norms, beliefs and values in the society. The parents feel disappointed because their child has chosen a direction that will not continue their lineage, breaking a value that is highly upheld in their community. A choice the parents find difficult to understand.
Asian gay men also have acceptance issues. However, they also understand that it will be difficult for other people and family members to accept them as gay. Precisely, they know this because their cultural foundation is not for gay relationships and upbringing of their parents is different from theirs. One respondent said: “I feel like for any LGBTQ who come out, it’s selfish for one to just automatically assume they should accept us, because we should understand where they come from too. It’s not their fault, it’s their upbringing.” This is complimented by the respondent who blamed the level of exposure and education of the parents for their lack of acceptance. It was evident that they fear indulging into gay relationships because they would not be accepted by their families. One respondent noted that he was warned that and told that if he indulges into a gay relationship bad things will happen to him. He believed his mother and this affected him. He said: “It really fucked up with my head. So when I approach relationships, I was like do i really want to get into one? You know, that was before gay marriage. Like where do you take the relationship? How would I introduce them?” The issue of acceptance is a big deal, especially coming from family members. These are people one have had very fond memories and people one has held dear for long. Having them denounce one for being gay can be traumatizing.
Another big challenge for Asian gay men is the existence of racism and stereotypes within the gay community. Racism within the gay community is more extreme because in America, white men consider themselves as supreme and have stereotyped Asians on more than one account. For example, the results revealed that Asian gay men are not welcome in most gay communities. One respondent said: “If you on any gay apps, there always going to be that profile that says “no Asians”, it’s very consistent.” Another respondent revealed his frustration and said that other gay men assume that Asian gay men date old white men. He said: “That was really frustrating. Those are really close minded behavior.” Asian gay men are considered fetish by white gay men. A respondent said: “I have countless old white men messaged me and said do you want to be my slave? And they expect you to say yes.” He also says that Asian men also want to be top with white men at times but the white gay men always assume they will be on top. Another stereotype that circulates within the LGBTQ community is: “of course everyone assumes that Asian men have small penises, and it’s not true.” The above profiling is in line with Drummond, who notes that Asian men are treated as weak with many claiming that white men have the ideal masculinity. This misconception explains the reason for the fetish treatment.
There is a further divide even within Asian gay men. Asians also profile fellow Asians based on the type of men they prefer or hang out with. One respondent said: “Asians who like Asians assume that Asians who like whites are self-loading, and Asians who like whites assume Asians who like Asians are not open.” The respondent noted that the two Asian gay groups rarely mix. The respondent prefers other Asian or colored gay men, and so does his group.
Another respondent brought in another perspective of discrimination and noted that resources focusing on LGBTQ rarely capture the interest of Asian and other minority groups. He notes that the resources help the gay community as a whole but largely puts more focus on the white gay person. He notes that it is also visible in the media and said: “even in the media, the show “looking”, that did not represent all of the gay community at all.”
Given the stereotypes noted above, it is clear that Asian gay men still do not find a safe haven within the LGBTQ community form the wider society. While they are discriminated against by the society just for being gay, they are further discriminated and stereotyped within the gay community for being Asians. This echoes Giwa & Greensmith who note that the challenges of Asian gay men are worsened by how they are identified by others; being Asians and gay at the same time they feel marginalized within and without the LGBTQ community. This is extreme as far as stereotyping and discrimination is concerned.
Education system is another challenge that Asian gay men face because the current system does not consider and value them. The education system should consider incorporating proper practice that can really help the community learn to accept the gay men like everyone else in the society. The respondent said: “There’s nothing in our public schools that really teach kids that it’s ok that Scott next to you is gay.” “It’s more than just sexuality these days, gay pride is just a bunch of shirtless men. There’s more to it.” Having proper practice could really help the community gain acceptance.
APA’s Guideline to Counsel LGBTQ Clients
It is important for the psychologists to acknowledge the particular life issues and challenges experienced by lesbians, gays, and bisexual members of racial and ethnic minorities that are related to multiple and often conflicting cultural norms, values, and beliefs in the society. However, simple acknowledgment of the life issues and challenges experienced by the minorities is not adequate to provide a clinical help to the clients when the therapists have no background knowledge on what other men who are identified as gay and Asian go through in America.
The therapists must understand the issues that the people with dual identities are facing in the LGBT community so as to identify appropriate ways of approaching them. These groups require an effective counseling that will help them cope with the prevailing issues. As noted above, cultural identities affect the experiences that gay people face in the LGBT community among other challenges. These challenges have made Asian gay men to feel marginalized. Therapists can choose to use the following techniques in handling Asian gays facing prejudices in the LGBTQ community;
Narrative Therapy. This method is used by therapists with the intention of knowing more about the experiences of the client as an Asian gay man in the LGBTQ community. The therapist will offer them an opportunity to talk about their personal life and how they feel affected by the prejudices existing in the LGBTQ community because people have individual preferences. This will enable the therapist to identify the appropriate method they can use to tackle the issues affecting them.
Finding the Support. Therapists are there to act as the mediators. This is because they provide the clients with the resources that will help them find the information they need. It is important them to offer them support that they need especially when they feel neglected. The therapists have to develop a positive relationship with them that allow them to discuss their issues closely and identify any possible method that can help them recover personally.
Asian gay men face due to their sexual orientation and their cultural identity within the LGBTQ community. It also informed how the APA’s Guideline to Counsel LGBTQ Clients can be used to close the rift and counsel the clients. From the results and discussion, it is evident that Asian gay men are facing many difficulties and challenges in their day-to-day lives within the LGBTQ community. They are considered to be less masculine, are stereotyped as fetish by fellow gay men, especially white gay, and are also divided based on whether they prefer white or other Asian/ colored men. This discrimination is also vivid in the larger society where they are hardly accepted and get disconnected from their families due to their sexual orientation, which goes against their culture. They revert to self-blame due to family pressure at times, and are stereotyped. It was also noted that lack of adequate resources and education practices that captures the interest of marginalized groups like the Asian gay community further contribute to their challenges. APA’s Guideline to Counsel LGBTQ Clients advocates for personalized counseling, in order to identify specific issues affecting Asian gay men. This, along with improving education and resources available for LGBTQ might help create a safe space for the Asian gay man within and without the LGBTQ community facilitating.Tags: Asian, community, gay, LGBTQ, man