Thursday, February 23, 2012

Asian Men with Balls: The Sociosexual Implications of Linsanity

I didn't pay much attention to Jeremy Lin until I realized he was getting me laid.

Story of my life: my insecurities take the form of mild to moderate narcissism and I ignore a cultural sensation -- the Asian Obama, if you think about it -- until it directly becomes pertinent to my sex life.

But there this pretty boy, whom I considered far out of my league, stood in front of me, offering to buy me a drink at Akbar, a trendy gay dive in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The boy, whom I'll call Tim, was, I think, mixed-race, and generally too attractive for me. (I tend to like gruff guys, anyway, the type who look like they can take a punch.)

But it's always pleasant when an Adonis turns out to be good conversation, and after a few drinks, I asked him what he was looking for.

"To be honest," Tim replied, taking a swig of Anchor Steam, "I've been on an Asian kick ever since Linsanity. I think he's so hot, and I'm surprised I've never been with an Asian guy before."

Normally I don't like it when guys bring up my race when they're hitting on me. Without question, race is usually a major component of sexual chemistry (and I certainly have my own preferences), but there's no easier way to feel like a piece of meat than when you're being compared to an anime character. But this was different. And it was entirely new to me.

I was being likened to an all-American mainstream superstar, not a niche fetish.

Since then, I've gotten wing-manned by Linsanity on several more occasions. On my Adam4Adam account, I have a picture posted that features me clutching a strategically placed basketball. (I took this picture as one of the subjects of a photography project called Sexy Geeks.)

The photo shoot was taken months before Jeremy's Shakespearean rise to meteoric stardom, when the image of an Asian man clutching a basketball was meant to be a critique on societal stereotypes. How quickly things change.

Now, I'd gotten no fewer than 30 messages on Adam4Adam that directly comment on the basketball picture, gushing about Jeremy Lin.

I haven't really paid attention to the NBA since the end of the Golden Age of the Lakers in 2004. And the only reason I paid attention to that was because of the diva bitch fight that was the Kobe/Shaq rivalry. ("Just make out already!" I'd yell at the screen.) But this Jeremy Lin figure was ramping up my sex life, and I was curious as to why. So I Googled him.

On paper, Jeremy Lin and I have a lot in common. We are both American-born. We're both from good Christian families; we both were stellar students in school; we both grew up in California. Like my mom and dad, his parents came from Taiwan with hopes of a better future for their kids.

Like my maternal grandparents, his maternal grandparents fled China to Taiwan during Mao Zedong's takeover.

But the similarities end there. I was confused. Was it really just skin deep, this sudden spike in interest? Or is something greater at work here?

You see, I grew up completely devoid of any role models that I could physically identify with. I am a thoroughly Americanized Asian man, but I've always felt that when it comes to my identity, I am an army of one.

I feel marginalized by the stereotypes thrust upon me, even defensive. The image I present -- one that I believe makes me a serious contender in my social surroundings -- I've carefully cultivated myself, without a face to base it on.

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