Reminds me of my Filipino friend in Detroit, Jerry. His parents are well off, and after they immigrated to the US and had a family they sent their kids to an exclusive private school. Jerry excelled there and at the University of Michigan. He built strong networks and established a very successful career.

When I met him, he exuded “cool,” a young man at the center of a vibrant social scene with a condo in a hot neighborhood.

He looked 21st century American. Clearly, he had some Asian or Latinx ancestry going on, but he never mentioned it and as far as I saw, nobody ever asked.

He’s an excellent cook too. Cordon Bleu. All the classic French dishes.

A few years after I met him, he sort of “came out.” I’m not sure what motivated him, but he began to talk about being Filipino. And one day, he threw a dinner party and instead of coq au vin or lamb chops with a red wine demi-glaze, he set a groaning table of specialities from his mother’s kitchen.

I wasn’t shocked and as far as I could tell neither was anyone else. The food was delicious, and Jerry’s family history was fascinating.

What’s telling (and maybe a little sad) is how nervous Jerry was to celebrate his culture, to sacrifice his “cool.”

He’s much more open these days. As successful and cool as he ever was. But I suspect his nerves were warranted. Things could easily have gone the other way, and I believe he was very aware of that.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.