Bryant, San Francisco, California
I’m a twenty-eight-year-old San Francisco native who recently finished grad school—the first in my family to do so. I got my bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies and public policy, and my master’s degree in urban planning. I attribute these paths largely to the great fortune of being a San Francisco native. I love it for so many reasons: how beautiful it is, how gay it is, how diverse and Asian it is, how progressive it is. I was able to take women’s studies and ethnic studies in high school; my teachers engaged me politically in middle school; we learned about organic farming, numerology, and flower power when I was in elementary school. I don’t know where else you could grow up with all these influences. I guess it has instilled an altruistic sense in me. I now work for the city of San Francisco, allocating money to youth programs. I specifically run a fund that helps young people develop campaigns around issues they care about and create business plans to press those issues forward. It’s really incredible helping to enable youths to take an active part in all sorts of issues going on in the city. My parents emigrated here from Burma, and I grew up in one of the poorer parts of the city. I came out right after high school to one of my closest friends, and to my family after college. Everyone’s been great about it—my best friends still love me (one of them actually came out to me a few years later), my brother said he thought it was cool and that being gay made me unique, and my sister said something like, “So what?” and didn’t think it was a big deal because she’d had a good friend come out to her when she was twelve. They all have gone out with me to gay clubs and events. Unfortunately, it’s taken my parents longer to come terms with it, and it’s still a pretty unspoken thing among them. I think Asian cultures just tend to sweep it under the rug. I have a couple of queer relatives, and whenever they bring their partners to family events, we always refer to them as their “friends.” Considering all of that, I think I’m a pretty regular guy with everyday interests. It’s funny though—it wasn’t until I left San Francisco to go to college in Los Angeles and the East Coast that I realized what a bubble I live in here, and just how lucky I am!