The End

My name is Tony Hans Huynh and I am alumnus of the Middlebury College Class of 2013. When someone asks if I enjoyed my time in college, I’ll smile and say, “It was filled with ups and downs, but ultimately rewarding.” I know I say that, because it’s been the same line I have been using for people asking me about my time abroad. I don’t think one sentence could fully satisfy every emotion that I have felt over these past 4 years.

It is here in the college on the hill where I mastered Chinese, had my first kiss, had my first boyfriend(s), and understood more of my racial, sexual, and gender identities. College was supposed to be a fresh start. I had never been wildly popular in school. I was cast off as a nerd and made fun of for being gay (though I wasn’t out). But Middlebury was the fresh start. I did what any overzealous student would do: I friended nearly the entire class on Facebook. I chatted with a lot of people online and met a good deal of them the first few weeks of the freshman year. I credit my intense friending to why I eventually ended up with a group of friends who spanned different commons, majors, and why my circle of friends rarely overlapped. Freshman year was spent on me worrying about whether I was truly going to fit in. Was this really going to be the place for me? But by the time I was a senior, I knew who my true friends were. I hung out with fewer people, but pushed them for deeper conversations and insights. Tell me what your long-term goals are, why you think intimacy and relationships can be more telling of yourself than the other, and why you feel the same disillusionment with the campus as well.

It’s been a few days since I left college for good. And already so many memories are beginning to fade away. I can remember College St. and the way the trees swayed as I walked down to Munroe, brushing against the railing as I walked down the stairs to Chinese class. It’s weird for me to get so nostalgic. I was watching a clip of the finale of The Office and a character mentions that every single day he came into work, he would hate it, but yet, why is it so hard to say goodbye? I spent the greater portion of the past  4 years critiquing Middlebury in every aspect, yet why was it so hard to leave? I think regardless of one’s opinion of Middlebury, it’s a place where I called home for 4 years. And I’ve grown up so much there, in spite of this community sometimes. And that’s very hard to let go. It was different when I was leaving for study abroad, because then I knew I would come back to this college on the hill. I will never go back to Midd as a student ever. It’s a difficult sentence to write as so much of my future is so uncertain. I am now an unemployed recent graduate. Single to boot.

That 6 hour plane ride from Boston to San Francisco was inspiring. I spent the first 4.5 hours crying and being extremely nostalgic. And then I remembered that I was starting the rest of my life. A life filled with family responsibilities, rent, and struggling to make it up in the corporate world while still hoping to have a decent dating life and friends outside of work. I’m confident I can make it work, I think. After all, I had a very fulfilling social life at Middlebury my last year here, when I was producing so much work, so whose to say it won’t transfer with me into the real world?

I’m beginning to discover things about the real world again that I missed. Things like reading the New York Times on a regular basis, pleasure reading, and eating at different ethnic restaurants (I had Cambodian for dinner tonight). But, part of me yearns for my college friends. I wish I could have said more. First, I would have thanked them for enriching my life. In these 4 difficult years, my closest friends provided support and comfort as I dealt with personal insecurities, relationships, and schoolwork. I hoped it was two way. However, more importantly, my best friends pushed my ideologies and the way I conceived of the world. Thanks to my queer friends, I learned more about queer undercurrents and movements. There is something beyond the GLB in the acronym, after all. I was also pushed to defend and talk more strongly about my identities. My class, race, and sexual identity have become more salient yet fluid throughout my time here. To put it simply, I never knew how queer, poor, and Asian I was until I went to a school that was 70% white American.

Middlebury gave me the perspective I needed. They helped me realize the true value for family, living in diverse populations, and what I valued about the urban and rural lifestyles. In high school, I was the snotty valedictorian who perceived himself better than others. After four years of college, I think I’ve grown more humbled by my friends and understood more of my background and where I came from. There still so much for me to learn, but I think my experiences at Middlebury have better equipped me to look into them more insightfully. So, thank you Middlebury. You may still suck for being transfixed on appealing to the white, upper-middle class prep school scene and ignoring those underrepresented groups you hold on a pedestal during admissions, but you’ve given me a place to grow and challenge how I view the world. So, with mixed experiences, I move onward. Here’s to the future!

One chapter ends, another begins. Credit: Brett Simison

One chapter ends, another begins. Credit: Brett Simison


This will be my last blog post on Snapshots of a Life, which was created to document my experiences and feelings during my time in college. For those of you interested in reading more as I transition into the next stages of my life, please follow my new blog, The Long Road Home. I have actually never reread most of my posts since I’ve published them here. Maybe one day in the future, I will crack open the archives and see how I really felt these past 4 years. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

Until we meet again,
Tony Huynh


Say Goodbye

Sunday, May 26 8:46pm (Eastern time)

I am currently 10,000 ft in the air flying somewhere over the midwest. And the one thought that keeps popping into my head is that Middlebury is done. DONE. I don’t know what to make of that. What am I feeling? Jonathan Safran Foer said in his commencement speech to me today that we should try to remember these memories and feelings. That would be easier if I wasn’t running on 4 hours of sleep, family stress, and nausea either induced by the hard cider I drank last night or the undercooked omelette I had for breakfast. But I’m trying to remember. My family has a 7:10pm flight they need to catch tonight. And I know that the good-byes are eminent. I guess a liberal arts education can’t prepare me to say goodbye. Today, I have failed for all human emotion that involves being rational. Today is the only day of my Middlebury career when I am completely acting irrational.

It all started earlier when I walked through the doors to a crowd of more than 2000 people clapping and cheering. I recognize a few faces as I being scanning the people walking around me and in the audience. There’s the former hook-up, the overachieving student named Phi Beta Kappa, the baby who is already crying, and there are my parents and sisters. My sister has my DSLR whipped out and snapping pictures. I have prepared for this moment so well. I walk slightly slower, look at the camera, smile, and wave. Slow enough so that a majority of the pictures won’t come out blurry. But that’s all I can do today. One of my closest friends sits two chairs to my left. This is the last time I will ever see him for a while, but I can’t muster to say anything. I don’t know what to say.

It is time for the degrees to be conferred. Fortunately, being Chinese, my family doesn’t have to wait as long. And before I know it’s me standing there waiting to hear my name. A man takes my picture and I try to muster sincerity. Smile because this is the last photo anyone will ever take of you as an undergrad. Smile, because as soon as you walk across that stage you are just another unemployed, lifeless recent college graduate. Toe-Knee Win. I think there was some clapping. I muster a weak stare into the crowd. I can’t even look out. I shake Ron’s hand and my professor who gives me more A-‘s than I deserve shakes my hand and says to me, “Congratulations, you’ve earned this.” I just muster a “谢谢” (Thanks). I’m handed a cane by some lady and then I walk down the ramp. The dean who is spouting off the extremely long award title the girl after me was given gives me some spare time to scan the room for my sister. I raise my cane for the picture. I forgot to walk slow. Sitting down, I open the fold to see my diploma. My college diploma. But I don’t understand. You mean, I won’t have to go to classes anymore? No more 10:10s in Munroe? No more slugging through hours on STATA? How can this be? How can a routine I was so used to for 4 years be ripped out from under me?

As I walk through the halls one last time, I remember the memories of each room. This was the room where I saw the Dalai Lama and though cute, I found his speech to be a little underwhelming. This was the room where I helped to set-up my first MCAB concert: The Roots. This hallway was the one I took everyday sophomore year to get to the fitness center to lift. This was the pool that I learned how to swim out of. And suddenly, I’m back in the hockey rink. This is it. I am now free. As I turn on my phone to search for my family, I realize the time crunch they are in. I need to make quick goodbyes.

(11 months earlier)
“Congrats! I can’t believe you’re a Midd graduate now! Ugh, I still have a year left.”
“Oh, but you’ll get there.”
“How was it like to have your family out there?”
“It was hard. I had to coordinate among so many people and logistics.”
“How about your mom?”
“Oh, she was going on about how smelly it was and the mountains. You know, she rarely leaves her hometown and is living in her own bubble. She doesn’t understand what I had to do to get my degree. She doesn’t understand the experience of college. And it’s something that I have accepted.”

The howling rain and wind has finally stopped. As I see my family, my mom urges me to leave. We have a 7pm flight to catch in Boston, we need to avoid any traffic. We need to leave. I can’t believe it. This uncooperative weather has made dealing with my family difficult. I never took them on a tour of the campus. They didn’t want to see it because it was raining so hard. They even wanted to skip the reception for my majors. No, I said. I don’t care if you want to go to Montreal, but you have to be back by 4:30. I want them to meet my professors. I don’t care if they don’t have anything to say, but it means something to me. And as they complain how ugly and cold it is outside or the fact that Vermont doesn’t have any major roads and it’s just hard to drive along these small country roads. I know that showing them this campus means nothing to them. Because they don’t understand the hard work at the end of these 4 years. They don’t understand what it means to be pushed through college. Earlier in the week, my parents had just visited Harvard and had fallen so in love with that they asked why I didn’t apply and why I didn’t go. I ignore them and continued packing. To them, this trip is almost a formality. Sure, she was happy when I received my diploma, but that was it. College was an expectation, but there was never much thought as to what college entailed to them. Hurry, we’ve already taken some pictures and we need to go, my mom says. Don’t rush him, my sisters yell. They look at me and they understand. That I need a moment to process what is going on around me. I am leaving this place forever. Yes, I will be back,but no longer as a student, but as an alum. The tears have begun to stream out of my eyes because this was the place that has changed me for the better, and I am leaving.

I stutter a goodbye to my best friend. As he hands me a picture of himself. He’s tearing up, I’m already waterlogged. As I push past the stream of graduates coming out and rejoicing, crying, I see each of my closest friends one-by-one. I yell their name, take a picture, say congratulations. Sometimes more. You know, these four years would not have been the same without you, I stutter. I was never the one to cry in public, but today is socially acceptable too. I wish I could tell everyone in person how much they all meant to me here. I wish I could tell them that my life would be so much more dull if they had not listened to me complain about Midd, boys, life, family for four years. That they were the nicest, most compassionate people I had met. I wish I could do so many things, but here I am sitting on a panther statue with my socks posing for one last picture. We drive off into the woods, I take one last look at the campus. Goodbye, Middlebury, I say as the trees swallow the school up into abyss.

Ridin' the Panther.

Ridin’ the Panther.


What I Found In A Hopeless Place

80's party (September 12, 2012)

80’s party (September 12, 2009)

You, yes you. You have just arrived on College Street and you’re pulling up to Stewart. There comes the lovely FYC and the group of people in their Orientation t-shirts here to help you move in. With your parents you grab your boxes of things your mom told you to pack and bring it upstairs and set it down. It’s a nice room, in comparison to the other rooms it’s a little different, 2 rooms for three people and you were unlucky enough to get the roommate. You make a slightly inappropriate joke to your dad about your room number being 420 and marijuana.

Chinatown Service Trip (April 10, 2010)

Chinatown Service Trip (April 10, 2010)

A few days later, you walk up Mead Chapel from library. This will not be the first walk. In fact, it might be the first of 400,000 times you will walk down or up this path. It is my favorite path in the entire school. Because no matter what season, no matter what angle, there is always something to marvel at, to look at as your cross down probably one of the most beautiful college landscapes in America. As you step into the creaking hardwood floors, you see everyone else. They are your classmates. And here comes the president. They open their mouth and thus begins your introduction into this college. Middlebury College. Your college. I bet it’s cool to say you’re a college student now. No parents, no responsibilities. How could you go wrong in these 4 years?

Super Queer is here for Halloween! (October 30, 2010)

Super Queer is here for Halloween! (October 30, 2010)

But take a step back from the complete utter euphoria of orientation. Look around at the athletes, the posse scholars, the classmates on your floor. And understand that in the 4 years there is a difference. You’ve probably already seen a few of them. Seniors, who already know the routine, who seem so old, so grown up. Yet, they are disgruntled, disillusioned, having come back from their semesters abroad. How could they and you be in such different places? How do you get from here to there?

Birthday Party. (March 25, 2011)

Birthday Party. (March 25, 2011)

First, don’t have such high expectations. Have no expectation actually. College is not going to solve any of your problems. Don’t be stupid. You need to solve your own problems. I’m sorry that you’re so insecure about your sexuality. I’m sorry that you have insecurities about your body. I’m sorry that you’re still a virgin after orientation (how did you manage that?).  I bet you want to cry about it sometimes. It’s okay, someone once told you that its okay to cry. Just don’t do it in public. People will talk. Do it in your room as you do your workload which you find surprisingly difficult to get used to. You need to understand the best resources available to you on this campus may not necessarily be institutional. In fact, most of the time they aren’t. Wait, how can they not have an adult I can really talk to about my sexuality? Sure, the dean is nice, but they sure as hell aren’t gay. And even if they were, how could they really understand what you’re going through considering you two are of different generations and backgrounds? Who is there to turn to? Your friends. And you better get used to it.

Wimbledon, England (November 30, 2011)

Wimbledon, England (November 30, 2011)

Now, you sure as hell weren’t gonna kiss a boy under your parent’s house, right? That’s kinda weird. Maybe if you were straight though. So, when you’re at some party dancing and you see that cute gay boy in your year give him the eyes. You know, the “I want to take you right here, tear off all your clothes, and be with you” stare. It’s the most sexualized stare shared among 2 college gay men at Midd. Just do it. There will be a linger and then you will have your first kiss. God, that feels amazing. Don’t use teeth, and be moderate on the tongue. I don’t know what to tell you about what happens next. Maybe you’ll see him naked in your bed. He might be respectful and so, so sweet. Or he could treat you like utter shit. What, you weren’t prepared to feel devalued and dehumanized after having sex? You know this is college, right? Toughen up.

Great Wall of China (March 2, 2012)

Great Wall of China (March 2, 2012)

Now, college doesn’t suck that much. You heard it when you were looking at schools: it is what you make of it. And it’s true. You’re at a liberal arts college, take a few weird classes. That Murakami literature class and that jazz history class are so weird, but just do it. You may find them to be the most meaningful classes of your 4 years. And you just wanted to know that stupid LIT requirement out of the way. But beyond academics, here is the best laboratory of human interaction and connection in your entire life. You will never again have all of your friends in such a tight, compact place again. Talk, interact, maybe skip some parties to just chat and chill with your friends. You aren’t going to find your closest friends right away. And be okay with the fact that even though you are super close with two or three of those people on your floor, that will change. Your closest friends will change. And it’s natural, and sure you can be sad about it, but it happens.

At Crossroads with the Stew Crew. (September 30, 2012)

At Crossroads with the Stew Crew. (September 30, 2012)

We can never know true happiness until we’ve reached the depths of despair. As horrible at it sounds, it’s true. You will never appreciate the true beauty of the summer warmth until you are met with continual periods of winter and unmelting mounds of snow. You won’t know the true value of friendship, until you are left alone in another country whose language you can’t even speak fluently. There is something beautiful and daunting that lies in adversity. You’ve dealt with it before and you will deal with it in the future. But the importance is how you react to it. Remember, you are the constant in the equation. College isn’t necessarily going to make you a better person. Maybe it won’t even make your more likable to others. But by pushing yourself, you will grow, mature even. So, go. Go to that party where you only know 1 person. Go ask that boy you like out, don’t just wait until you can get a make-out session in a darkened corner of Tavern. Go abroad. Every fear you have, walk dead into it. It’s scary, but it’s what college is for.

Still strange as ever. (January 13, 2012)

Still strange as ever. (January 13, 2013)



Why are there so many Asians? (Beijing; March 4, 2012)

Why are there so many Asians? (Beijing; March 4, 2012)

“Oh, he’s so cute.”
“Why don’t you ask him out then?”
“I don’t know, do you think he’s into Asians?”
“Why wouldn’t he be?”
“You know some guys don’t do Asians. Do you know if he’s hooked up with any other Asian guys?”

Asian-Americans make up 6% of the student body at Middlebury. At times, I walk around and feel like it’s 1% particularly at queer functions which has traditionally been a room full of white gays and lesbians. Really, being Asian-American at Midd has made me paranoid and weary of so many things involving Asian culture. I guess it never hit me how Asian I really was until I came to Vermont, one of the whitest states in the nation. And sometimes, I feel that has spillover effects to the student body as well.

The Asian-American community at Middlebury is an interesting combination of people. First, you have the numerous Asian adoptees typically adopted by well-off white families. Then, you have the half-Asians who typically consist of the typical white father/Asian mother pair. Finally, you have the Asian-Americans, some of them first-generation, others from family backgrounds in Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo (read: also affluent). The majority of the Asian-Americans on this campus are women. Maybe there’s just something about Middlebury, Vermont that doesn’t really call to men, I don’t know. Within the Asian-American Middlebury “community” (if I can even call it that), there is a very special niche of Asian: the gay/queer Asian-American man. This is a niche/collection of people so visible, that you can probably name all of them on this campus because they are highly social and friendly (Hint: there are 4, including myself).

Attraction is another thing. Now, I have no racial preferences. I’ve dated men of different backgrounds, heights, and personalities. The only requirement is that they can’t be too masculine or too feminine. I always liked my queers who were comfortable navigating both spaces. Because that’s pretty queer. Anyways, just because I do not have racial preferences, does not mean that others don’t. We have to respect what everyone likes, right? Gay Asians on this campus are currently of only one type: the Asian twink. We’re all pretty skinny, most of us wear plastic glasses, and smile a lot. And none of us are taller than 5’9″. For a campus that places its white, masculine, 6-packed men on a pedesta, this makes the gaysian twinks into a separate genre. As noted in the conversation above, whenever I’m really interested in a guy, I always ask, “Is he into Asians?” or because this campus is impossibly small, “Has he hooked up with any other Asians?” If it’s a yes, then the crush and infatuation begins to develop. If no, then the attraction is cut off right there. I’ve had enough guys say to me, “You’re cute, I’m just not into Asians.” There’s no point in barking up the wrong tree. The less emotional resources I divest from unrequited interests, the less hurt I’ll be. That’s my economic theory, yo.

This may sound pessimistic. My friends try to tell me that people do find Asians attractive. Sure, some people are into Asians. No, I do not want to hear your 5 minute rant about why you think half-Asians are the hottest thing ever. So many people think that at this school. It would be different if it were phrased as “Oh, Tony, the Asian-Americans and the half-Asians are SOOOO HOT.” But no, it’s always the half-Asians. I’ve never heard a person say, “Ugh all the white people at this school, I’m just not into them.” So, for so many people to go on rants lavishing praise onto half-Asians, I have always wanted to say, “Oh right, because Asians are so troll-looking that once you breed them with the whites they turn into such Adonises and Sirens.” And then proceed to do an eye roll. Half-Asians are attractive, but I don’t think they are anymore attractive than others. If this school really did put it’s biracial people on a pedestal, than clearly more blacks on this campus should be seen as more attractive considering some of their white slavemasters had sex/raped/whatever with their black slaves to produce numerous “biracial” offspring ala Thomas Jefferson. But you don’t hear anyone raving on and on about the “beautiful” white/black children mixes.

I’ve seen far too many white, then brown, then black guys with nice faces and meh bodies get more men than I will ever get in my Midd lifetime. The 6-pack is a good equalizer though, I’ll give it that. The worst part is that this entire campus thinks all the gay Asians look alike. For the last time, no I am not Thomas, Jesse, or Hai. Someone saw a picture of me and the latter together and remarked, “Aww… you guys look like brothers!” No, we don’t. We don’t even look anything alike. One glance at our facial features makes that quite evident. But I can’t control that. Whenever I hear that (Gaysian) hooked up with A or B, I think in my head, okay so I have potential. Because really, if all the Asians seemingly look alike, we’re perfect substitutes of each other! Yes, more of my brilliant economic theory at work! I just don’t understand. I can distinguish between all the blonde hair and blue-eyed people at this school, why can’t others?

“Tony, you know what I realized?”
“Guys here are either not into Asians at all or REALLY into Asians, you know?”
“Honey, I’ve been knowing that.”

And then you have the exoticism factor. As the racist Asian crush list will demonstrate, there are some people who are really really into Asians. And that’s fine to have a racial preference. I could even date a guy who was really into Asians. But there are different degrees of yellow fever. And the guy should probably never tell me he has a thing for Asians. I don’t know, that would just make me feel uncomfortable. Because on one hand, yes I need to respect their preferences. But on the other hand, ew he’s into Asians. Will I ever find someone who can just sort of see past the race? You know, a relationship where I don’t feel is some byproduct of neocolonialist orientalist influences. In other words, once I know someone is into Asians, I can’t un-know. And that thought will always stick in my mind.Maybe this is all self-inflicted. Out of the 6 guys I have been with in my time in Vermont, 5 of them have been Jewish. Commence the teasing from all my friends. But every guy who I have been with outside of Vermont hasn’t been Jewish, so I clearly don’t have a “thing for Jewish men”. Certainly, they’ve all looked very different from one another.

“Yes, I finally got with an Asian guy!”

Take any class with at least some Asian-American sociological focus and you will always hear terms such as “foreignization”, “othered”, etc. etc. Because despite some Asian-Americans being here as long, if not longer than some european immigrants, people still want to tie me to my homeland. People are quick to point out that I am Chinese-American, even though I rarely identify as that term (FYI I’m ethnically Chinese Vietnamese-American). Other Middkids want to learn my ethnic Asian origin as soon as possible. For me, I don’t ask what ethnicity people are. Within time, they usually bring it up themselves. Why waste time guessing when it’s all about how one self-identifies (this is how I feel about sexuality as well)?

And all of this is coming from someone who didn’t even hang out with a ton of Asian-Americans until this year. My social circles trended pretty gay during my underclassmen years and as a result always looked much whiter. But after returning from China and getting enough dosage of New England culture, it was nice to be around people who knew what congee was or those who actually understood why I got red envelopes for Chinese New Year or people who wouldn’t ask me to say something in my “native tongue” when they first met me. Alienation and identity formation often go hand-in-hand. But at the end of the day, do I wish I could have my hair turn brown and eyes turn blue? I know I would be seen as much more attractive if that happened. Sometimes still, but then again Asian food is just so much better than what the west has, there’s no way I’m trading that.

Is this Asian enough for you? (Pingyao; May 11, 2012)

Is this Asian enough for you? (Pingyao; May 11, 2012)

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The Mis-Education of Tony Huynh

As I crossed down College St., I was excited. Excited at the start of my new life. I had just seen two guys holding hands earlier. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. Two guys holding hands. That would be me one day. Maybe among the group of people who I’d be walking to Atwater Dining Hall with. We were a collective, after all. We were the new kids. I didn’t know what to expect, how classes would really be, what it meant to have a boyfriend. I didn’t know anything. And I knew it, I was 18 and blissfully stupid and ignorant with enough energy to overwhelm everyone that met me.

Oh god, this is it. Am I ready to hit send? Is this really happening? I clicked the “Send” button, but I never heard the “swoosh” sound that typically sounds after its sent off into the inner realms of the internet. But this was it, I was officially done with college. 4 years of memorizing characters, pounding out 400 page books in a week, writing 15+ page essays. All done. As I walked down College St., I felt like I was floating. I saw the brick and marble buildings to my sides and yet, they all looked so foreign. As if they once had meaning, but now were nothing to me. They could catch on fire, vanish, and I would never know the difference. Is this what euphoria felt like?

But as I walking down the hill, now a person waiting to enter the real world, I wondered, what were the most important things I learned in school? I tried to think of the biggest lessons I learned, and not surprisingly, none of them were in the classroom. Sure, my GPA is high enough to qualify me for most job descriptions, but did I really learn something useful in them? Yes, I’m now fluent in Mandarin, can quantitatively analyze statistics, but most other skills are not the ones I will be remembering 30 years from now. A FYC my freshman year told me that if I ever had a chance to skip out on doing some work to have some fun, do it. Because that spontaneity only lasts so much in your life. And I tried to embody that over my four years, I really did. Sure, my grades may have suffered, but in comparison to people I know now as seniors, I’ve sure as hell seemed to live a lot more than they did.

“Alright Tony, you have a choice. You can either ask this guy out who you’ve been pining over for the past six months and return to being a vegetarian or you can be a vegan for another 4 days.”

Of course, I chose to ask a guy out. I was inexperienced with boys. And still struggling with so many things. Throughout the past few months, I was getting well-acquainted with the Midd gay scene. And how so many parts of it were so indicative of the real world. Honestly, gays here weren’t interested in “fatties, femmes, and asians”. Downloading Grindr and seeing it 3 years later reinforced that. I was already ugly by default. Stupid chinky eyes and slender body. There was a period of a few months where I was pretty depressed about it. Why should all the white masculine get all the boys? Why were they so privileged? Why did I suck so much? Eventually, I got up every day without hating myself in the mirror. I was okay looking. Confident in my okay looks. So what if the Middlebury queer scene was too hierarchal? Some guys graduated from Midd and took on the clubbing and bar gay culture in a frenzy, depraved of any type of interaction or much meaningful intimacy in their undergraduate years. And I… was done with that. I’d had my long-term relationships, I’ve had my fun. The next person I’m with, I’d like to stick with them for a few years, maybe even a lifetime.

“I’m going. I’m leaving. And I’m never coming back.”

I ran away from home at the age of 18. Okay, it doesn’t count as running away if you do so legally. And if one is leaving for college. But that was me. I was done with San Francisco. Who cares about the metropolitan area of 8 million? And I was done with having 1 distinct season. I had never seen snow and I had never been to the east coast. And my family had annoyed me to the last nerve. I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t exploring. And I felt that my family held me back. 3 years later, I was halfway around the world in China. Celebrating Christmas on a bus stuck in traffic in Hangzhou. I had just had a nice late afternoon to-go dim sum in a shopping mall. Wouldn’t it have been nice to celebrate with my family? I thought. I could imagine them all eating dim sum, talking loudly to one another. Maybe even bickering like we always do. I thought back to the image of my mom bursting into tears as I left home to fly to Europe. I was already gone from home 4 months at that point, and there were still another 5 in front of me. Thinking about family would just make me homesick. And that was something I didn’t need at this point. My year abroad was the year of Tony, just focusing on me. Something I had never done. In Daoism, there is usefulness in the nothing and the something. And just as I focused only on me, I learned that there was a focus on my family, who I loved. I could say that for the first time in my life without rolling my eyes.

It wasn’t drilled into my head when I stepped on campus that Middlebury would be a difficult place if you were a queer, poor, first-generation person of color. There was a part of me that didn’t even realize what it meant to be Chinese-American until I was shoved into a place where 70% of the study body was white. Has my education indoctrinated me to partake in white, upper-middle class culture that so much pervades this campus? No. It only took four years of discrimination, racist, classist and sexist remarks, but I got through it. It’s not like I had a choice. I looked at transferring. But I wouldn’t have gotten financial aid at any school for doing so and as someone who was on a full ride already, that didn’t seem appealing. So, Middlebury as shitty as you’ve been, thanks for destroying the innocent, naive poor from the ghettos of San Francisco. Really, there was no better place for that funeral.

RIP Childhood

RIP Childhood (Square Dance; Sept. 2, 2009)

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Love In the Time of Crush Lists

“So, whose going on your crush list, Tony?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Any girls?”

There was the list in front of me. I had written down the name of every guy I had found attractive at Middlebury. 42 guys. Wow, had I really had a crush on 42 guys? Then, I wrote the duration I had had the crush. Some were for 4 years, others for 4 days. How am I ever going to pare this down into a crush list? For the uninitiated, Middlebury has a tradition that come a few weeks before school ends, graduating seniors put up a creative list of who they had crushes on. Typically, this is done with a theme: like crush’s names spelled out in a crossword, heads in places of balloons, etc. etc. I had known since sophomore year how I wanted to orient my crush list: via 6 degrees of separation. It all started via AddSeven, a website which would send an email if someone filled online that they had a crush on you. I thought, why not actually have a way to connect people? This school is small enough to find connections via extracurrics, classes, and service trips. My friend suggested I should do an actual web listing who people had had relationships/hook-ups/crushes on. While that would be an easy web for me to do, I thought it would probably be best to avoid controversy and the scorn of many a people. Besides, it wasn’t my business, though other people are willing to gossip away about it to me.

I stared at the name of 42 guys. Then I added in years next to their names. Everyone spanning from ’10 to ’16. But there were still 42. Okay, I thought, let’s eliminate anyone who I think is cute, but actually has a negative personality, was rude to me, or would seem to get a smug satisfaction on seeing their name out on my list. Then I had to eliminate people who never stimulated me in conversations. But not the quiet, nerdy boys. Those could stay. This left 20 guys. Judging from all the space I had on my legal sized paper, I decided that it would be best to narrow it down to 11 actual crushes and 5 guy friends. I already knew which guy friends I would put on the list. So it was down to cutting down the 9 guys.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to shape my crush list. Everyone always puts current people or underclassmen on their crush list. But with the 20 left, there weren’t that many freshmen (’16-1) and sophomores (’15-5) on there. Why don’t more people put alums on their crush list? It seems fitting, there were tons of cute gay men when I was an underclassmen. And in addition, I realized that nearly everyone left on my list were people that I had asked out. Could they still be a crush if I had dated them? Yeah. Yeah, why not? With the 20 left, I knew that I had a thing for all of them. No matter what our history, I certainly wouldn’t want them to get hit by a truck. No, the guys on my list had to still be likable ones to me. People I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about putting on. And unlike others I knew would be put up, it would be a historical one. And there were always so few queer crush lists up that I knew I was in uncharted territory. I didn’t care if half the campus didn’t recognize most people on my crush list. It was mine, and my crushes in the first stage of my queer life. My crush list only needed to satisfy me. Maybe the rest would fall in.

“So, what do you think?”
“It’s certainly well-designed. Cute, even. You satisfied?”
“Yeah, yeah. I really like it. Plus, I put the background as yellow to make it stand out.”
“Do you see any patterns in your crushes?”

I looked at the 11 I had put on my list. Any patterns? They were all over the board with race, personality, and my familiarity to them. I had eventually decided to cut the last 9 by using a combination of my knowledge of their maturity, their cuteness over time, personality, and of course, sexiness. This was my crush list, and no one who was ugly (on the inside) was allowed. As I began to connect them through mutual connections, it struck me how I was so close to all of them. Using non-romantic connections, the furthest guy on my list was only 5 connections away. I’m sure it would be even less if I had thought more in-depth. I started grabbing pictures of them off Facebook. It had to be the cutest one. 350×350, a smiling head. The first thing that attracts me to a guy is his smile. Walking around campus with a scowl on is so not hot. But a smile has sincerity. And nice guys always finished first in my heart.

With the 11 actual crushes down, I began to rearrange their placements to the strangest connections I could think of. And I made sure not to repeat a connection. Certainly, MOQA (RIP) membership would have connected everyone on my list. And then came the next hardest bit. Originally, I wanted to write pick-up lines that would target the crush’s interest (census redistricting, Bach, ed reform), but decided that they were getting a little too raunchy. No, I had to go the cute angle. And what was cuter than pick-up lines from songs? They couldn’t be too romantic or lovey-dovey, that would be weird. And they had to be in three sentences or shorter. Trust me, I would have loved to use, “‘Cause you know I’d walk a thousand miles / if I could just see you / tonight” but it was too long. And then there were the depressing love songs about wanting someone back. No, I should probably use something upbeat.

Oh god, oh god. These words just repeated in my head as I taped my crush list with the clear scotch tape on the glass door of the dining hall. This was it. Tomorrow, May 1st, is when everyone will see it. Everyone who I ever had a crush on or dated. Will be right there. People love gossip about this school. As long as it wasn’t about them. And this was clearly the way to put a spotlight on me. Oh, maybe I should have put that 1 freshman on there. He is cute after all, and maybe I should have just thrown the class of 2016. Maybe I put mine up too early… but you know someone has to be the first to stick theirs up. And what’s the worst that could happen? Nothing. The best? Maybe I’d get a nice text the following day by someone. Hah. Like that’d ever happen. But it was worth the effort, right? I wasn’t going to be at Middlebury the last weekend of the semester, so this was it. Now or never. I glanced at my crush list, in all of its yellow, arrowed glory one last time. I hope they all like it, I thought. It is about them after all.

The crushes.

The crushes.

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Gay May Day

“Are you surprised about MOQA (Middlebury Open Queer Alliance) disbanding?”
“Yeah, I guess it’s sad that it wasn’t even a surprise. Oh well, I don’t care anymore.”

Any formal institution of a queer scene at Middlebury has died as of May 7, 2013. Now, if you have issues with coming out or with your sexuality, there is only one place to turn: the counseling center. And there, only one of the counselors has a background in sexuality. And now no organizations targeted for GLBT students. There is the Queer Studies House, but given the lack of interest (3/5 spaces filled), I’m sure that will be closed down within the next few years. And there are no queer resource centers at Middlebury, making it the only NESCAC school that does not have a resource center or coordinator for GLBTQ students.

“MOQA is just a cancer. I don’t even touch it.” -My FYC

All of this is extremely laughable, given the fact that the proportion of “out” students at Middlebury far outstrip any other NESCAC school. But maybe this is the reason why MOQA has disbanded. Because the queers have finally assimilated with the athletes, the hipsters, and the granola hippies. Isn’t that the purpose of affirmative action? We have finally all just become one group of people! But last I checked, it seemed that students still complain about how they can’t hold their same-gender partner’s hand in public or people still say homophobic things with their friends.

It would be too easy to blame the leadership of MOQA. I was interviewed today by The Campus the difference between when I ran MOQA 2 years ago and to what it is today. The only significant thing was that the leadership was more disorganized this year. But the general lack of apathy among students has remained prevalent. Quite frankly, no one cares about the queer community at this school. Even the queers themselves. No one cares about MOQA like most people care about HIV/AIDS in Africa. Most people acknowledge that HIV/AIDS is a problem in Africa and can really affect people’s quality of life, but most people aren’t intrisically motivated to go out of their way to do something. It’s the same with MOQA. I just passively care about it.

The common criticism with apathy among the student body is that people are too busy with schoolwork. Quite frankly, that’s a horrible excuse and too easy of a story to use. Am I still going to use that excuse when I’m working in the real world for upwards of 60 hours a week for why I don’t want to look for a boyfriend? No, I find it’s always possible to find and manage time so long as I’m on top of everything I need to do. People should just say they don’t care. I’ll admit it, I am busy these days but I don’t really care what direction MOQA is going in. It’s not like I have direct stake at its dissolution. I’m graduating in 2 weeks. And I’ve already tried to do what I can. Let someone else direct this sinking ship.

“How do you see the future of the queer community? And MOQA, Tony?”

I thought about that as I lounged in my chair on Proctor terrace. Where do I see the future of any queer community? People complain all the time about how they want MOQA or the queer community to be more social or political or academic. This conversation has probably been had at at least 1 meeting a year since the early 2000s. But then nothing ever gets done. And it falls on the Queer Studies House and MOQA to do everything. That works some years, and sometimes it completely blows itself up. But what does this all mean? The optimist in me hopes that people will begin to gather around a new organization(s) and the stigma of MOQA will be washed away. The pessimist knows that there will be little budging with the administration about creating a GLBT coordinator for this campus (which it so desperately needs) so even if an organization is formed, it will follow the same lifespan of MOQA. Same shit, different day.

I guess it should be sad that there isn’t going to be MOQA anymore for a while. But maybe it’s what the people want. We all go through identity crises through college, why shouldn’t our organizations? And considering how divisive MOQA can be or how few, if any questioning students go to meetings, why is it even necessary anymore? Getting people to care about anything but divestment these days is like pulling teeth, why should the queer climate issue at Middlebury be any different?


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