"I just, I love this contrast between your pale skin and your dark hair."
"I like squinty eyes, though."
"You know she's slept with every queer Asian girl we know, right? Including you, now."
Embracing my queerness on its own, devoid of intersections, was never really a huge struggle for me. That was never the thing that got me incessantly questioning myself and the world around me. Acknowledging the lightbulb that went off once I thought back to all the older girls and female teachers I'd trailed behind in countless school hallways like a gay little puppy -- that wasn't the difficult part.
The difficult part was in navigating my queerness, specifically in romantic/sexual relationships, through and around and under and over a huge, gigantic lump in my mind that reads, "RACE."
The difficult part was in refusing to linger on thoughts of whether or not someone finds me attractive because they're fetishizing me based on my race, or whether they find me attractive despite my race. The difficult part was reading comments online where white girls talked about how they resent Asian girls because apparently we monopolize all the attention of all those straight boys they liked, and wondering if that resentment extends somehow to white queer girls, too.
Because white queer girls, they're everywhere, and -- and this is something I'm working on, OK? -- they're a problem for me. White queer girls are all over all the dating apps, and in Toronto, they're at Back to Church, and they're at Crews, and they're at Cherry Bomb, and somehow I manage to find them even at Yes Yes Y'all (a largely black/POC queer dance jam).
Because there's no such thing as "just preferences" when it comes to attraction. Attraction, like everything else, is political.
There used to be over 50 screenshots in my phone in a folder called "white girls on Tinder" until I encountered that 16GB iPhone struggle and had to delete them all so that instead I could keep Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, happn, Coffee Meets Bagel, Seeking Arrangeme -- er, what?
When it goes beyond just "OK, but like most of the girls there are white, so what are the odds?" to "OK, but like at this point you're deliberately searching them out," I'd have to be really un-self-aware (which I am, sometimes) not to recognize it as a problem. But at least I have my friends, always there for me, always ready to yell "Muy blanca! Muy blanca!" whenever I talk to them about Tinder girls.
Because there's no such thing as "just preferences" when it comes to attraction. Attraction, like everything else (beauty, value, worth, desire and so on), is political. There's a reason I grew up hating the way my eyes looked or the way my house or I smelled when people came over after school. There's a reason I refused to learn Chinese, or took pride in how thoroughly "Canadian" I sound when I talk, or thought I was just so cool for having white friends.
There's a reason I simultaneously idolized the literal handful of characters I saw on TV who looked like me just for existing, while also rejecting them because they weren't as pretty or as smart or as likeable as the white main characters.
I grew up with so much pride and ego warring with self-hate and insecurity, as do so many other kids of colour, and it's still something I feel childish about and impatient with myself for -- for still having all of this be something that I need to work through.
"But everywhere you look, white voices are elevated above the rest," I finish as I literally trip and fall all over myself when a pretty white girl smiles at me.
"You can have your preferences, but you should really examine the racist undertones informing them," I tell people as I turn right around and struggle with continuing to do the exact same thing. "So many of us are so rad and so informed," I say, talking about the queer community. "But everywhere you look, white voices are elevated above the rest," I finish as I literally trip and fall all over myself when a pretty white girl smiles at me.
And then they smile at me, and then what?
Then this happens:
"I just, I love this contrast between your pale skin and your dark hair," they say, in the heat of the moment, and it doesn't register with me until we're lying there later.
"I like squinty eyes, though," they say, ostensibly sticking up for me when the drag king at Zipperz asks if I'm one of those Asian girls who gets red-faced and wasted off of one beer and squints while smiling.
"You know she's slept with every queer Asian girl we know, right? Including you, now," my friends tell me about my ex, tossing in just one more thing for me to consider when contemplating queerness, racialization, relationships, white girls and me.
This post originally appeared on The Eyeopener.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST: