&ASIAN Cares, issue #02

In our second issue of &ASIAN Cares, one of our readers asks us about how to deal with developing feelings for a close same-sex friend.
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&ASIAN Cares, issue #02

The &ASIAN team understand that throughout the diaspora it might be hard to talk or voice any worries might have, even to family or friends. We are here for you, and in our &ASIAN Cares series, we try to help direct you to places that might be able to help you further. We are not an authority on what it means to be Asian or any of these issues, but we are always here to listen and help you feel less alone.

Dear &ASIAN Cares,
Over the past year, I’ve started developing feelings for my close friend. We’ve always been good friends but I can tell lately that what I’m feeling is no longer just platonic and I think it’s the same for her too. We’re so connected mentally, and now when we’re alone together I experience the most intense physical longing between us. The only problem is that she comes from a very Christian Chinese family (we are both Chinese)– I’m not even sure that she fully accepts these feelings and what that reality would mean for her. She is not fully out to herself, and she’s definitely not out to her family. I don’t know if we have a future together as partners, and if we can ever explore these feelings.

There’s no easy answer to this one… with every &Asian Cares, there is never a right answer either, only sincere and earnest advice from one person to someone who may not have anyone else in their life to ask. But in this case, my advice straddles being both brave in love yet also respecting what you deserve from the world. The truth is: you deserve to be loved, and you deserve to be with someone who doesn’t hide that love and is proud to hold your hand; your feelings are both beautiful and valid, something you should never doubt. But I must acknowledge that that truth is often thwarted by the reality we live in, whether that be cultural, social or national prejudices against LGBTQI+ folx… there’s no way to say it better, it just sucks.

Being her friend, I think you have the best grasp of whether it’s a possibility for her to eventually accept her queerness, and for her to feel able to tell her family. Use the strength of your connection with her to feel out how open she is to a romantic future with you; it doesn’t have to be one big conversation, it can be several smaller ones to begin teasing out her thoughts on queerness and if she’s thought about her own queer desires. If you feel prepared to tell her how you feel, let your knowledge of your friendship guide how you deliver it. Your feelings aren’t something to be ashamed of; they should be celebrated and treasured– loving others is one of the best things we do as humans! If she feels the same way about you, enough that she is willing to take her brave next steps into accepting her queerness and being your partner, then that’s great! But be prepared also for the reality that sometimes love isn’t enough and she may not be ready at all to come out to herself yet, in which case you have permission to mourn, to ask for space and time to heal, and to move forward with your big heart.

But if you both decide to be together, a person’s coming out has to be on their own terms, even when/if you’ve started a relationship with them before the fact. You may have to ask yourself if you could accept being in a relationship that doesn’t immediately include a relationship with her family and social circle, or one in which your partner may oscillate between feeling positive and negative about it. Being in a relationship where your partner isn’t already out necessitates a lot of strength, faith and trust– strength to keep believing that the relationship is a good thing for you both, faith that one day it will be better and her family and loved ones will be a part of your lives as partners, and trust that she is committed to you despite her not being out and proud yet. You may also have to ask yourself if you are willing to love someone in secret, and if you do, what your limits and boundaries are. I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do – only you know how much you are willing to take and whether the love and future you envision with your friend is worth the heartache, time and energy.

I wish you the best, my friend, and I want to end by reminding you that your love is a true effing gift and deserves to be seen and accepted as such. Be brave in loving, but also love yourself and know you ultimately deserve happiness in the sun. I really hope that it works out with her and you can have your time in the sun together soon.

The &ASIAN team x