Reading through this issue took longer than expected, more personal reasons than any fault of the magazine.

A solid follow-up to its initial release and I continue to proudly be a subscriber, and that’s not me strutting my ego.

Okay, it is.

I enjoyed a lot of the content this issue had to offer. They hit home and sparked thoughts / introduced me to new perspectives (which I’m almost always in the mood for). Of course there are some articles I felt were a bit out of place or caused me to blankly stare at the pages (even on second read throughs). That said, I’m still looking forward to the next issue and I’m trying to muster the courage to submit a piece.

List of articles/pieces and artworks/photographs I fancied…
Key: Articles that hit home for me

  • Queer Friends by Max Mosher
  • 30 x 30: A Tough Love List of Resolutions for Your Thirtieth by Kevin Derrick
  • Flowerbed by Jürgen Natter
  • Bright Light Bright Light by Adam Hurly
  • At First Sight by Tom Mcllroy
  • Accidents by Matthew Lowe
  • Nine Reasons to Text Your Insignificant Other by Chad Hensley
  • Wanderings by Jonathan Randall Grant / *Photos by Michael Newsted
  • Hyperkeratosis of the Heart by Samuel Leighton-Dore
  • Buyer’s Remorse by Joshua Greene
  • The Rules of the Game by Mike Mutsaers
  • Emo, Curious, and Well-Traveled; or Ed Droste Is My Kind of Person by Blair Mastbaum
  • Purple Galaxy by Daniel Young
  • The Other by Mike Joose
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice? by Adam Polaski

It hasn’t been easy.

Kenny was someone I worried over, I hoped for, I included in my wishes. He meant the world to me: as a friend, as someone I loved with all my being, as someone I was happy to know.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I want to. I know it’s a figment of my imagination, my mind desperately trying to reach him, a sliver of me wishing this was merely a nightmare. I want to believe that his presence still lingers and is watching over me.

I so desperately want to see him smile, hear his laugh, and listen to him tell me his latest mad theory. There’s so much more I thought we’d share together. Coming to the realization is frightening, even more so is accepting the fact.

There are times when I see him and I don’t immediately dismiss him. I let him linger and it comforts me; to imagine for a short while that he hasn’t ceased to exist. I go about my day with his ghost watching me, believing that he’s experiencing what I’m going through. It isn’t until I try to talk to him do I catch myself and I close my eyes as a wave of pain washes over me. When I open them, he’s gone and I’m left there by myself.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I want to.

hello mr.

I received my copy of hello mr., issue 01, a couple of weeks ago. I was very eager to dive into reading the magazine that has branded itself as a new zine for men that date men. I had to fight the temptation to get into it because it’s been busy at work and I wanted to peruse the articles with a clear mind. Today was finally that day.

There’s a lot of articles and what really made me excited as I finished all 168 pages was that I was pleased. I won’t say it was a perfect issue, there were a lot of great articles and a lot of articles I kind of expected. I commend all the writers, however, for their ardour.

Here’s my list of articles, authors, and photographs that I thought were phenomenal reads:

  • The Sweet Struggle by Sam Rodgers
  • Jesus Days, 1978–1983 by Greg Reynolds
  • “Interested In Men” by Alden Peters
  • Photographer: Barry Marré
  • MAM by Jack Arthur Smith
  • Web-series: the Outs by Adam Goldman
  • Twenty-Five Things You Should Know About Being A Gay Man Before You Decide To Be One by Ryan O’Connell
  • Soulmates Are Boring by Bernard Lansbergen
  • Nice to See You by Adam Polaski
  • Dating Under the Disco Ball by Dan Saniski
  • Leashed by Adam Edgerton
  • Twelve Steps to Break a Heart by Brent Persun
  • Illustrator: Dan Gray
  • Ritual L’Homme by Blair Mishleau
  • The Gay Men Project by Kevin Truong
  • Just Like Me by Arie Rain Glorie

The majority of the media I read/viewed in the first issue, I believe, lived up to what hello mr. is trying to brand itself as. They were refreshing, probably because of how honest and close-to-home they felt.

Harold Arka’ji: Do you feel you have a sense for today’s idea of beauty?

Kristopher Louie: I’d say so. I spend a lot of my time submerged in media as a communication designer. A lot of what I consider fun is looking through media and dissecting the messages, and more times than not, commenting on whatever it might be.

I think we’re in a weird place with the idea of beauty. When it comes to mainstream media [in America], we’re fixated on these skinny toned bodies. The other day I was laughing because I feel like less than a decade ago the only models with facial hair were advertisements for an older demographic, and now there’s a good chance of seeing facial hair on every other model. I think what’s disheartening though is that I still see a majority of campaigns featuring White models, almost exclusively. Every once and a while I’ll see someone of color and I consider that a huge triumph but we’re still nowhere close to where we should be. And I don’t want to single our advertisers, but I guess in a way I am, but I think it’s more beneficial to a company’s potential sales if they were to show models that just weren’t White.

HA: You were saying that you think we’re in a weird place with beauty, could you elaborate?

KL: Oh, right. See what I mean by getting so easily off-track? [laugh] I say we’re in a weird state of beauty because if you take even half a step away from what’s mainstream, you’ll see what I think beauty should be. Your everyday person. I mean, look to the photographers that aren’t working for big-name companies, really, no company at all— just those taking pictures. You’ll see moments of people experiencing life, and I think that’s so much more beautiful than these posed photoshop’d pictures.

For a long time I longed to look like those models you’ll see for mens ads where they’re shirtless and really, at that point just selling sex. But I’ve been up close with a guy that was a model, okay, yes, I see the way you’re looking at me. We fooled around. When I took off his shirt though, I was immediately overcome with anxiety because I knew I’d have to take off my shirt—

HA: What? You’re an attractive guy and you’re pretty skinny from what I can tell.

KL: Oh no, I don’t think I’m fat. Gosh, I might joke around with it and my friends will tease me too but I definitely know I’m not fat. I just know that it’s been a while since I’ve had my soccer/track and field body. I’m not as toned as I used to be and hell, there’s a bit of flub. It’s just that it was the first time seeing pecs and an EIGHT pack, that wasn’t photoshop’d, unless my eyes are really good at that now…it felt too unreal and that made me think he was expecting the same standard.

He was a really sweet guy though, we’re still friends actually haha. I know he was trying to be considerate/sensitive but he said something, that helped me at the time but kind of pissed me off afterwards. He told me that he didn’t want to sleep around with other models because he, like me, felt that it wasn’t real and that he preferred guys that were “normal”. What pissed me off was the fact that my body is considered normal, or average, or what I call everyday and that just doesn’t make me feel pretty when put like that.

So going back on subject. I think we shouldn’t consider mainstream media to be the idea of beauty. We should look in the mirror and those around us. The people and things we see every day should be our idea of beauty.

It’s wildly annoying to see the following remarks in any recruitment thread:

  • Why have a gay guild?
  • What does orientation have to do with gaming?
  • This isn’t a dating site, it’s a game.

A guild, in essence, is a collection of people with similar goals and interests in mind. So it’s only natural for a group of gaymers to want to be in the same guild because not only do they want to progress in the game but they have similar lifestyles which makes it easier to relate to one another.

In almost any MMO, you’ll see quests and storylines about lovers and miscellaneous romances…not just dragons and undead are slaughtering villages. The addition to marriages are another addition to modern day MMOs. And even if none of this happened, MMOs are social games. In social games, people talk about themselves and what’s going on in their lives. You can’t seriously tell me you’ve never heard a fellow guildmate mention their spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend…ever…in the entire time you’ve played an MMO.

We realize it’s not a dating website. Trust me, we do. We have our own plethora of dating and hook-up sites that really, we don’t need an MMO to add onto it. So please, stop saying that.

LGBT guilds are formed and searched for because it makes playing a game fun when you do so with like-minded individuals. It makes it less likely to be a stressful environment when the people you play with understand that remarks like “stop being a faggot” or “that’s fucking fag” aren’t akin to “you’re being an asshole” or “that’s fucking lame.” It helps others live in a more open fashion, even if by just a little bit, because in real-life they may have forces keeping them in the closet but in an MMO it’s different and they don’t have to worry as much about their parents finding out.

So really, stop being an asshole.

Don’t understand or want to be part of a gay guild? Don’t join one.

Aside: As a gaymer, it wasn’t until my ending days of World of Warcraft did the desire to be part of a LGBT guild develop. For me, this was because I tried very hard to have my gay persona apart from my gaming persona. I soon realized that both identities played an integral role of who I am, and thus, they were merged to form the gaymer identity. It also helped that there were other gaymers and even a community of us (http://gaygamer.net).

I wanted to join an LGBT guild for a sense of community and to have a more open life in-game.

I wanted to join an LGBT guild so that I wouldn’t have to constantly hear “stop being a faggot” or “that’s so fucking gay.” Both statements that don’t bother me when said once in a while, but I would hear this homophobic remarks on a daily basis within five minutes of each other while raiding. 

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I truly thought that the only way to be beautiful, man or woman, was to be tall with blonde hair and blue eyes (sometimes green) but the most important part was to be white.

It’s largely why for the first half of my life I lived with such low self-esteem, knowing that I would never be any of those things but at the age of six, realizing that I was Asian and that was not akin to being white. So naturally, the first person I thought I “fell” in love with was exactly that. Her name was Emily and she was of average height with long flowing blonde hair. Her only flaw, in my eyes, were her dark brown colored eyes. When she rejected me, I took it hard for half a day because I was programmed to have that drama…but I got over it faster than I had gotten over any of my crushes. We remained friends. No hard feelings. When I look back on it, I think at that time of my life, what I wanted wasn’t her love but to be her. Because I thought she was so beautiful and I wanted to be beautiful.

Then when I came out, the next person I fell in love with was a boy named Brett. That year, the new thing was about these smart boys that played sports. They were still white of course, but they didn’t have to be blonde-haired or blue-eyed. Brett was ridiculously smart and played football and lacrosse. Unlike with Emily, I didn’t want to be Brett. I wanted him to love me like I had seen in all those awful teenage movies. His response to me, when I confessed, was that he “didn’t think that way.” And my love for him became an unrequited one. Then there was Devin who was tall, blonde and blue-eyed and athletic. Not the smartest but I could live with that.

Throughout my teenage years I would go back and forth between blondes and brunettes. They would all be clean-shaven and tall, skinny to athletic. They would become increasingly smarter and sophisticated, well beyond what I could understand.

Then I entered college and here’s what I understood of my tastes in men:

  • I liked white boys, that much was apparent
  • I didn’t really care for blondes, I preferred brunettes and the occasional ginger
  • I loved boys with green eyes, then brown, then blue coming in last
  • I liked them smart, at least as smart as myself
  • Guys with scruff made me go insane with lust
  • Guys with cute smiles melted my heart and made me nervous (in a good way)

Two years into college and having a better understanding of society, what design influences and how in every mind, a tiny seed from a designer/creative was planted to make them think a certain way…I took the initiative to fight the system.

I questioned my thoughts, my likes and tastes. I opened my gaze to not just the white boys. I tried finding interest in a mental connection versus a purely physical one. I tried to look beyond their shape.

Some of the guys I went on dates with were awful decisions and sometimes I felt like I was their awful decision. I went through a plethora of guys of varying degrees, thinking to myself:

I’m finally making an informed decision that is my own and not someone else’s.

And then it dawned on me, the past six months of guys I’ve dated compared to the guys I see on TV, in magazines, on online articles and even movies. I haven’t. This entire time my tastes in men has been cultivated by the media.

Ain’t that a kick in the head.

You’ll think I was tipsy from the way I flirted with you, stroking your beard and rubbing your stomach…but in reality I was barely drunk. I’ll bring you to the dance floor and laugh at the way you move, giving a nervous smile when you smile at me, your eyes showing such delight.

Knowing you won’t be able to hear me, I’ll tell you, “I want to kiss you.” You’ll tilt your head and I’ll respond with, “Let’s grab another drink.”

A while back when people first realized that their ‘privacy’ was compromised on social networks such as facebook and Myspace, I laughed and called them idiots. A few years after people started realizing that their employers and potential employers were including social media in their background checks and thus began several things: (1) the removal of any and all pictures and bits of information that didn’t seem appropriate and (2) the actual use of privacy controls. At that time I still laughed, gave a shrug and called them idiots.

Now I stand as a graduate taking steps into “the real world” and I had that voice inside me say…

Oh shit! Your twitter feed is just music and game achievements; your foursquare has you checked-in at bars, venues, and hipster-esque restaurants; Your Readernaut mainly houses gay literature and design books; your instagram displays random landscapes and random boys and your pet dog; your tumblr is filled with Will & Grace tributes, half-naked (if not naked) men, video games, anime, and other geeky things; and you even have risque photographs of yourself up!

Could all those people be right in their worry / fear of having their entire life on display online?

The really short answer: Nope.

The long answer…

A little over four years ago when I first joined facebook (only after getting accepted into college), I posted updates like no one else’s business. I did not care that friends or family may potentially see something I posted with, in fact I kind of thrived on it causing some form of conversation (and really, just wanting attention as an adolescent). As I started to be tagged in photographs, I was faced with my first dilemma: I AM NOT A COMPLETELY PHOTOGENIC PERSON! Some photos of me look completely fucking awful. People of course said I could just un-tag myself but I thought about it and realized how defeating that would be. It’s unnatural to think every photo of me is going to be glamorous, so let’s mix in the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly (and the fugly).

When privacy became an issue for the first time and people complained about facebook, the very first thought that came to mind was: Don’t publish shit you don’t want seen. Over the years this mentality became: If you actively publish something, you are giving up your rights to/of privacy. I still hold onto that. If I post it online, I’m losing my right for it to stay private. Of course you can delete it and remove most of it from the interwebs but it is still out there somewhere…hiding!

I guess the point of all of this is: Let’s. Get. Real.

I can’t say that these actions don’t define who I am because they do to some extent. What I can say however is that if you judge me based off what I post on social networks, you are judging only the surface of my being.

I am not your ideal model citizen. I have no desire to run for office or hold any political power. I am a normal person in a very radical, awkward and fast-changing world. I have done drugs (note what tense I used there), I drink like any other (okay to be honest I’m probably the shittiest drinker you know) and I have sex like any other. I have an opinion and unlike others I like to voice it.

What I aspire to do in life is change and contribute. I want to help shape the world we live in and I want to contribute as much as I can and want. I am a hard-worker and I am a passionate person. I think I’m pretty out-going and have a charismatic air about me. I am curious and I like to solve problems and tinker with concepts and objects. I am still young and I believe I have much to learn and I am willing and striving for it.

Piti, Piti, Ayiti

Piti, Piti, Ayiti was designed to illuminate the challenges involved in the international humanitarian effort to provide relief for displaced people, through a discussion of the recent disaster situation in Haiti.

My collaborators on this project were Julynn Benedetti (MFA, Design + Technology, Parsons) and George Bixby (MFA, Design + Technology, Parsons).