K-pop and it’s Problem with Queerness

Content Warning: use of the word queer and mentions of homophobia

South Korea remains a highly conservative country, and despite their advancements in many other aspects, they are slow to embrace change when it comes to social issues. In particular, issues regarding sexual orientation and attraction. With a large Christian population and a president who outwardly opposes homosexuality, about 60% of Koreans believe that the LGBTQ+ community should not be accepted in society. Like in many other countries, LGBTQ+ Koreans are stigmatized, discriminated against, criminalized, and are not fully acknowledged by their government (i.e. rights).

*It’s also important to know that “queerness” has always been perceived as a white/western concept in many Asian societies and communities, which only adds to the erasure of and homophobia against LGBTQ+ Asians*

While homophobia is rampant in South Korean society, where romantic and/or sexual activities between LGBTQ+ individuals are frowned up and deemed taboo. A major selling point of K-pop; aside from catchy songs, trendy fashion, and flashy choreographies, consists of concepts laced with homoerotic subtext and homoeroticism in fanservice.

The homoeroticism found in K-pop is neither a form of resistance against homophobia or a mode of LGTBQ+ representation. Rather it’s used as a marketing tactic by music labels to get K-pop groups to cater to and fulfill the fantasies of their cis-het fan base. Under the presumption that there’s a larger female identified audience listening to the genre, male homoeroticism is more prevalent.

Acts of homoeroticism range from displays of affection coded as romantic to very sexually charged interactions. This performance is typically done for the sake of cis-het entertainment and consumption. K-pop is all about keeping up with illusions and indulging fans in their fantasies. It sells, even if it means having to resort to pseudo-queerness and doing it at the expense of LGBTQ+ people.

K-pop challenges perceptions and expectations of masculinity and gender, yes, but what it also does is deny the possibility of queerness. It’s hypocritical to deny queer people a place in society yet allow these performances to exist for profit and entertainment’s sake. Playing queer is fine so long as you’re not explicitly addressing it right?

In the midst of all of this, where does it leave K-pop artists who are open about their sexuality? What about idols who are questioning or do not yet feel safe or comfortable enough to come out?

A K-pop soloist by the name of Holland who is openly gay, recently debuted with his MV ‘Neverland’. In an interview he talks about how he was bullied for his sexuality and that there wasn’t anyone he could go to seek comfort and affirmation. Not anyone at home, at school, and definitely not out in the public sphere. There are very few celebrities in Korea who identify as LGBTQ+ and even fewer who actively speak out on LGBTQ+ issues. Holland hopes to carve out a space for himself in the industry and be a voice and representation for LGBTQ+ youth in South Korea.

I commend and admire Holland for his courage, it’s a huge risk to take, especially in an industry that has actively excluded him while simultaneously using his identity as a marketing tool. I only hope and wish that he will get the love and support he deserves as he continues on with his career.

As a long time K-pop fan living in the west, I’m just an outsider looking in on the industry. So there’s a chance my observations and analyses may be a little skewed, and I’m open to learning more about the complexities of this topic as I may have left some critical points out. I’m also very curious to know what artists like Holland and other LGBTQ+ individuals in South Korea think about the relationship between homophobia and homoeroticism in K-pop. Is it a big deal to them?

With K-pop becoming more globalized and attracting a more diverse fanbase, many of whom are LGBTQ+ and see K-pop as an outlet for representation, hopefully both domestic and international fans can use their consumer power to help artists like Holland and many others shift the industry. 

Show Holland some love by checking out his MV down below:

If you have thoughts or opinions please comment and share with us, we’d love to hear it. 

Pliab Vang is a Hmong American, and a senior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends. Social media consultant.



South African Land Distribution

You all may have read some news about South Africa passing a law enabling the government to take land from white owners without compensation and redistribute the land to other non-white residents of the Western-recognized first world country.

What does this mean for the white residents?

For a start, it’s critical to know a little bit of the history of South African land ownership/disposition. This website can tell you all of that history.

Second, it’s also important to know how many communities have had their land taken from British/European settlers. They were separated by the color of their skin (e.q. Black, Colored, Indian, Chinese/Asian) and placed people in different settlements. It was often that interracial couples would be separated completely due to their skin color and ancestry. The history can be read here.

Knowing the history of South Africa, it isn’t shocking that the reclamation of land from white South Africans is such an important issue. Via the dailymail UK, a 2017 audit found that white South Africans owned 72% of farmland.

Supporters of this law include the Africa National Congress (ANC), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with quotes such as; “The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice. We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.” and “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”

A small minority faction in the South African Parliament, the Democratic Alliance party, opposed the motion, as did the Freedom Front Plus party, a tiny faction that represents the white Afrikaner minority.

Recently, there have been petitions for Donald Trump to accept white South African as refugees from this parliament vote and petitions for the EU to accept the white South Africans as refugees.

This is such an ironic piece of history that, I believe, couldn’t possibly slap you in the face any harder. Throughout a history of white people taking over land after land, it’s finally time for white people to experience what their ancestors have done. We, as white people, benefit from Westernization because of the color of skin while black and brown folx are pushed into poverty and death as their default. Anyone who denies that white people are treated better are totally lying to themselves and need to face the truth. It’s finally time to see the tables turn on the historic oppressors and show them what black and brown folx have been experiencing since the dawn of colonization.

It’s important to think critically about these kinds of topics and to consider the history before making any sort of positions. Where there is a complex history, there are many sides to consider.

For my own opinion, I believe that this will be a righteously karmic retribution. It’s also heavily ironic that white South Africans are trying to find refugee from the land being taken back from the Native peoples. This law only takes the land from them, but this law will not stop them from working on said land. The reaction of white South African refugees is an overreaction and a wake-up call to what it feels like to have land taken away from them as their ancestors had done in the past. Calling out white oppressors as “criminals”, in my opinion, is a horribly accurate statement that is not to be taken lightly.


Commenting your opinions and edits are not only allowed, but encouraged!

Taxi Man

Glance glance glance over

Leather shoes, worn and authentic
Cotton adorns their clean skin.  I circle
like a hawk smelling their wealth.  

One two three shekels

I smile, pop my yellow door open
And my dimples feel like craters
On my face.  Lure them in with smiles.

Ache ache ache in my back

I make eye contact with a large man
And I take in his clean nails.  Drive him
A mile to his home, feed my children for the week.

Driver cabby hackman are titles

Bright eyes meet mine and he sits
In the front passenger seat.  I glance over
Him once last time and I wheedle out ten shekels out of him.

Rip off thief cheat

I park my job and put a tarp over it
Stretching out my back, my body is being pulled through the ground
I set my alarm for six and collect all the loose change from the day.


Kholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world.  She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible! Managing editor.

Check Your Privilege!

Being asked to check your privilege is not an insult. But somehow, somewhere in the grimy dregs of the internet, there is an individual comparing being called out on their inherent advantages to slavery. No, I’m not kidding, I’ve seen it happen.

The term ‘privilege’ has folks recoiling like a vampire from the sun. We often hear,  “I’m not privileged/I’ve had to work for everything I have/I’ve struggled too”. What is it about the phrase ‘check your privilege’ that is apparently so inflammatory? The term privilege in the context of feminist discourse is an advantage that certain people have through position. If you are an individual that occupies any dominant social group (White, Straight, Cisgender, middle or upper class, etc.), you have privilege. You have advantages, many of them unseen, over those who occupy minority social positions.

There is an excellent example of privilege in the way perpetrators of violence are portrayed in the media, the Las Vegas shooter being one of the latest examples. Many times, the only difference between the stories is the skin color of the perpetrator.  I can already hear the murmurs of, “That’s not privilege” and “It’s just a coincidence” or something about how the black shooter was more of a “thug” with “no future”. Those are privileged (not to mention racist) statements.

Deciding that one reason for performing a mass shooting are more valid than others or that one person can be forgiven more easily than another is privileged.

Privilege can also occur on a smaller scale, that is, through everyday occurrences. I was told the story of a young Muslim woman dropping her backpack on a bus causing the other people on the bus to jerk up in fear and watching her with distrustful eyes until she departed. The ability to be presumed as safe in public is a common and often overlooked example of privilege but something that is very prominent in the lives of those living in the margins, something that they constantly have to live with.

Privilege is a real concept that most people who live in a dominant positions refuse to accept as reality. In this, there is a great misunderstanding about the plight of minorities, especially when it comes to everyday life. Accepting one’s privilege can be the first and most important step those in dominant positions can take in beginning to be active against the oppression of others.


Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American third year SCSU student. She is double-majoring in English and Women’s Studies and has loved writing from a young age. She is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding the world of politics and pop culture today. Mariam is an editor for The Upper Mississippi Harvest, SCSU’s literary journal and a writing tutor at The Write Place. In her free time, she writes for her personal blog, scribbles in journals and is the Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games.  Consulting editor.

Free to Be Me-Growing Up Multiracial in America

“What are you exactly?”

Ahh. The all too familiar question I receive either from complete strangers or from friends who finally feel like they’ve known me long enough ask. To answer that exact question, I’m just like everyone else.

I’m human!

But I’ve learned that when someone asks me this, I should assume they are asking about my ethnic background. And even though most don’t mean anything offensive by that poor choice of wording, it still makes me feel like I’m the “other” or that they’re trying to fit me in one box. To answer the intended question, my mom is part Mexican part Spaniard while my dad is Khmer (Cambodian) and Chinese.

As if growing up wasn’t confusing as it already was, I was also constantly battling with how I identified myself. There would be phases of my childhood when I was ashamed to be Hispanic and fully embraced my Asian side. Then there were times when I despised the Asian side of me and claimed only the Hispanic part. It’s alright feeling like you identify as one more than the other(s), but that wasn’t my problem.

My problem was that I was always hating a part of who I knew I already was.  As someone who moved to a small town in Minnesota with a predominantly white population from a diverse area like Houston, TX, I faced different challenges depending where I was.

When growing up in Houston, it was always the struggle of being enough of my ethnicities. I was either not a “real Mexican” because I wasn’t a “full one” or because I didn’t speak Spanish. I would go home and watch a lot of Mexican novelas on Univision just so I could fit in and prove I was Mexican to my classmates. And sometimes I was told I wasn’t Asian enough because I didn’t speak Khmer or get the top grade in math. No matter where I was or who I was with, I was an outsider.

When I moved with my mother and older sister to rural Minnesota, it was a different situation. This time instead of trying to be enough Hispanic or enough Asian, I was spending all my energy trying to abandon both identities and be white. In my mind, to be white in small town MN was to be accepted. It seemed to be working because I was getting invited to sleepovers, parties, and people were even coming to my birthday parties.

But it was still there. The racial remarks were still there. Although not directed at me, they could sometimes tell that it made me uncomfortable. They would then turn to me and say “Oh, but you’re not a full Asian (or Hispanic), so it doesn’t apply to you!”

So I resorted to smiling and laughing along with them. I chose not to make a scene out of fear of rejection and I just took it. I felt the intense need to fit in. And it wasn’t long until my being multiracial was used against me. When I got the top score in the grade for the state writing test, I was told that an Asian person must have graded my paper. I was laughed at when I brought homemade salsa and fresh tamales to a potluck because then my “Hispanic side was coming out”. No matter how hard I tried to be white, I was always reminded that I wasn’t. I was different. In a small school with the majority being white, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Soon enough, I started getting tired of hiding who I was. I realized that I was only fooling myself and I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. I started taking pride in standing out. I am different and that is a good thing. Sure, I won’t always have the most pleasant experience when my race is brought up in conversations, but that’s not my problem. Other times people are just genuinely curious and want to learn more about something they’ve never known about before. Instead of trying to cover who I was or putting too much effort in being something instead of the other, I’ve learned to embrace who I am and share that with other people – regardless of how they choose to take it.

As I was discovering my inner feminist during junior year of high school, I was also finding joy in myself and the importance of intersectionality in feminism. The moment I chose to embrace every aspect of myself, I felt free. I’m not some quiet, submissive Asian you heard about on TV or lazy Hispanic. I’m not a pile of stereotypes.

I’m unique.

I no longer felt the need to hide the fact that I am Asian or Hispanic. I finally felt free to watch anime without being ashamed, eat tamales every Christmas, talk Spanglish at random times, grab the chopsticks instead of a fork, listen to Marco Antonio Solis or RBD, get good grades, talk obnoxiously loud, not be ashamed whenever my mom is talking in Spanish in public (or dad talking in Khmer), and let my dark, thick, curly hair flow freely. I’m grateful because I am free to be me.

I was always free to be me.

Mardon Ellen So

Ellen is a 4th year undergrad majoring in Sociology and plans to attend physical therapy school after graduating. She is half Hispanic and half Asian. She was born and raised in Houston, TX and moved to Minnesota with her mom and sister in 2010. Ellen is a hardcore feminist and is passionate about social justice. She enjoys talking about topics such as race, gender and gender violence, LGBTQ+, class, ability, and mental health. When Ellen is not at school or work, she loves to spend her time running ultra-marathons, doing yoga, meditating, gardening, playing the oboe and piano, playing video games, listening to people’s life stories over coffee/tea, spending time with family, volunteering, annoying her sister, and playing with her birds.  Email consultant.


The Body & the Manifestation of Trauma


Most of the time when we think of the body recovering from a traumatic experiences such as a death of a loved one, sexual assault, generational trauma, or the witnessing of violence, as something that the mind alone must heal from. But in fact, for many, that is not the end to the healing process the body must go through when dealing with trauma. According to Young (2016), everybody has a range of physiological arousal that allows them to function effectively in day – to – day life. This is known as the window of tolerance. For trauma survivors, this window is often narrowed because of the time spent within the fight, flight, or freeze response. Because of this, survivors are either hyper-aroused (panic, muscle tension, racing thoughts) or hypo-aroused (numbed, dissociated, shut down) and spend little time within their window of tolerance and often don’t know how it feels to be relaxed or have the ability to regulate when triggered (Young, 2016).

It was 2013, and my freshman year of college. I was ready for a new start and to make all the mistakes and memories that college is supposed to bring you. But for me, these memories did not turn out the way that I had expected. A stranger assaulted me one night while walking out to my car after night class. I never saw his face and I never reported the attack, because no matter how much I tried not to, I could only blame myself. I showered and showered again trying to get his smell off of my body and some days I still hear his voice ringing in my ears. Days and months, then years had gone by. The night terrors began to dwindle into nothing and I felt as if I was finally healing from what had happened and put everything behind me.

This all changed about two months ago when I went back into my OBGYN for the hundredth time to try and address the constant pelvic and back pain I had been feeling for almost three years. Before, we had contributed the pain to the cysts I often developed on my ovaries. After the exam, the doctor decided we should do something else to try and address the constant pain I was feeling. He decided to send me to a physical therapist that specializes in working with the muscles of the pelvic floor. I felt that the apt was running smoothly as she was going over my medical history and the symptoms I was experiencing. She than had a small moment of silence and said, “I see in your chart that it says you had a possible sexual assault. Can you tell me more about that?” From that, I gave her an abbreviated version of my story and she nodded as if she had just discovered the answer to an unanswerable question. We began the exam and she had me contract and release my pelvic muscles so she could feel how they functioned.

What she discovered changed my outlook on the way the body deals with trauma forever. She had me get dressed and sit down to discuss what she found. She said that while my muscles were very strong and could contract immensely, they didn’t know how to fully release. She said I am in constant pain, because it’s as if my muscles are always flexed, and thus the reason for cramping pain I feel. The reasoning for my body doing this wasn’t one I expected. She said that our lives are like books, and no matter how many pages we cross or rip out, we can’t change the past. Even though I thought I was finally getting over what happened to me my freshman year of college, my body hasn’t healed from what has happened. She said that my body has been stuck in a protective mode that is not allowing itself relax. My muscles are constantly cramped as a way to protect itself from what had happened.

I walked out of the office in a daze. I sat in my car for a minute staring in disbelief at what had just happened. How could my body still be suffering from something that had happened so long ago? Something that I thought I had healed from. This is how I discovered how truly important body mindfulness is when trying to heal from a traumatic event. Trauma finds a way to manifest itself within every part of your being when you are unable to identify its capabilities. Healing from trauma takes time and support, and it’s not a process you can rush through. Take the time to love yourself and know what your body needs and what it is trying to tell you. Jon Kabat-Zinn says this, “mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”

Watch these videos for more information and ways to work with trauma in the body!

Photo credit here!

Young (2016)


Whitney is a senior at St. Cloud State University with a double major in Social Work and Women’s Studies with a minor in Human Relations. She highly believes in the power of self-care and full body mindfulness. She is passionate about understanding the relationship between trauma and the lasting effects it can have on the body and mind. Whitney has a love for community work and hopes to work within this field after graduation. Her hobbies include painting and other multi-media art forms and finds healing within creating new pieces.  Outreach and email consultant.

What’s Really “Beneath the Veil”

Recently, I got to watch Beneath the Veil, a 2001 made for TV documentary, directed by Cassian Harrison, centered around British journalist Saira Shah’s venture into barely pre 9/11 Afghanistan to document and comment upon life under Taliban rule. Taking a first look at the documentary’s affect on Afghan women, in terms of how the film otherizes the Afghan women and girls these Western investigative journalists seek to understand and bring awareness to, I’d like to address the lucrative title of the film itself: Beneath the Veil. From my social observation I have noticed that non-Muslim Westerners seem to have this strange fixation with women who wear hijabs, veils, or any variety of headscarves and veils.

There’s this dominant, non-culturally informative belief that the veils some Muslim women wear are the ultimate icon or symbol of their oppression, that if these women were finally liberated in every facet of their lives by Western feminists that they would assumably, and gladly, shed their clothing and only then be truly free. But if they actually listen to the voices and insights of Muslim women, they could understand that these garments are not in fact inherently oppressive, and that many Muslim women actually feel empowered and liberated through wearing these garments. So the intriguing title Beneath the Veil really just reveals this odd obsession, almost fetishization of Muslim women in the eyes of non-Muslim Westerners who have this undying wish to see Muslim women/girls taking off their hijabs or other religiously/culturally appropriate clothing to fulfill their own white, Western savioric desires.

However, on the other hand, I also recognize some positive illuminations of the film which paint a richer and more accurate image of Afghan women and girls lives, oppression, and resistance. For instance, I found it very important that the journalists bring awareness to the feminization of poverty, and how due to strict Taliban regulations that prohibit women from occupying paid positions in the public sector of the economy, women and children experience disproportionate and acute poverty, and suffer because of it. I think it would have been great if the journalists would have posited this specific phenomenon in a broader, more global context, given that roughly seventy percent of people in the world who experience poverty are women and children. This would have shown that the feminization of poverty is not unique to Afghanistan alone, and is even present in Western cultures as well.

Another positive aspect of the docufilm Beneath the Veil is their highlighting of a women’s resistance movement under an oppressive and systematically violent government. There was a quote that I especially liked: “It is also from the most vulnerable that the first signs of protest come.” It is true that women are consistently at the head of all sorts of intersecting liberation liberation efforts all across the globe, though their efforts are often trivialized or omitted completely. 43e

In Taliban dominated Afghanistan, RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) are front and center, being shown leading a public march/demonstration to protest the murders of innocent people and the regime’s destruction of their previously peaceful lives in general. And after this scene, the journalists show the more private, underground functionings and organizing of RAWA, with their secret networks, operations, and cameras which allow them to spy on the Taliban and plan resistance strategies. I thought this was a very good juxtaposition because activism is not just about extreme visibility or marches and demonstrations, but in fact that most activism goes on behind the scenes, where people are often unaware even exists.

And resistance can be very personal and intimate, as exemplified in the scene with the Afghan women who run secret beauty parlours where they apply their faces with forbidden cosmetics and keep living their lives and expressing themselves the way they want to, despite an oppressive government that dictates otherwise. It is in these ways that I think the film represents these women and girls in a positive, more accurate light, while still being aware of how the film’s Western lens simultaneously obstructs the portrayal of these women and further oppresses them.


Ruth May is a senior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, studying Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film Studies. Ruth is a white, gender nonconforming trans woman from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes.  Monitor blog analyst.


The Art of Walking on Eggshells

Content Warning: Abuse

The first time she told someone that she hurt, they exploded. She didn’t remember much, the tears in her eyes blurred the chaos around her. She heard a plate shatter and felt a dull pain in her chest as two rough palms came in contact with her breastbone and the air she lost propelled her backward into the wall. It hurt in the way you’d expect, two bruises with pain reflected like mirrors, one on each side of the sternum. But it also hurt in a different way. A deep and visceral way that made her nerves thrum every time after if she heard a door close a little bit too hard.

Slamming doors turned into raised voices which turned into incredulous looks. The slightest shift in anyone around her sent alarms through her body. She imagined a ballet, always on her toes but never as dynamic. She kept going to the corners instead of the middle of the stage. She stepped carefully, every creak in the floor feeling like a landmine under her weight.

The second time she told someone she hurt, she didn’t mean to. She’d developed a system for how to deal with the Bad Stuff: Hold it in and hold it close. It made her stronger until the day it didn’t. She didn’t like the way her breaths came too quick that they didn’t allow any new air in. Her exhales punched the inhales back and an ache started in the corner of her eyes and spread across her forehead. Then she felt a hand close over her knee and a gentle pressure on her forehead. Her airways opened, and the first deep breath she took inflated her chest up to her shoulders, pulling them back and making them strong, and she felt full.

At times it still hurt, but she learned to move more freely. The spotlight still scared her at times, but she found that it washed over her more than it burned. Her ears tuned more to laughs, her eyes found more smiles as her body turned itself to the sun. It felt good, it felt easier.

The next time she told someone she hurt, a hand closed over hers and the squeeze of her palm helped in the way you’d expect. A rush of reassurance and a quick, grateful smile. But it also helped in a different way. A deep and visceral way that made her nerves hum when she heard, “It’s going to be okay.”

thumbnail_147Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American third year SCSU student. She is double-majoring in English and Women’s Studies and has loved writing from a young age. She is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding the world of politics and pop culture today. Mariam is an editor for The Upper Mississippi Harvest, SCSU’s literary journal and a writing tutor at The Write Place. In her free time, she writes for her personal blog, scribbles in journals and is the Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games.  Consulting editor.

Don’t Call Me Darlin’

Don’t call me darlin’
I have a name

Don’t call me sweetie, babe, and honey
To guys I never hear the same

Bud, Scout, and Slugger
But you always use their name

Tight squeeze on my arm
It’s just you being ‘friendly’

But what’s the big deal
You don’t mean any harm

You call me darlin’
I say that’s not my name

You walk away and laugh
It’s always the same

Next time you see me
It’ll be sweetie, babe, and honey

I guess I missed the joke
Cause to me this isn’t funny

Your words ring in my ears
It’s like the pat on the head

A gold star to a naive little girl
You don’t listen to the words I’ve said

Don’t call me darlin’
That’s not my name

Don’t call me darlin’
I’m not yours to claim


WhitneyWhitney is a senior at St. Cloud State University with a double major in Social Work and Women’s Studies with a minor in Human Relations. She highly believes in the power of self-care and full body mindfulness. She is passionate about understanding the relationship between trauma and the lasting effects it can have on the body and mind. Whitney has a love for community work and hopes to work within this field after graduation. Her hobbies include painting and other multi-media art forms and finds healing within creating new pieces.  Outreach and email consultant.

I Am Not <

We are all socialized to prioritize romantic love above all other forms of love–platonic, familial, and especially self-love. Attaining romantic love (and by extension sexual love) becomes a measure of our worth, success, and happiness as human beings. We are lead to believe that if we don’t find The One then we are less valuable, less worthy, less happy, less than.

Coming to the realization that I fall somewhere along the aromantic spectrum, has been in many ways a rollercoaster ride of a journey. It’s been difficult identifying it partly because I grew up believing that romance is the end all and be all. That romance is an essential and necessary part of our lives.

To be able to put a word to what I’ve been experiencing has been enlightening. I feel like I understand this part of myself much better now. I don’t feel that I’ve lost anything or that I have something to grieve.  Instead, part of my worldview on romance and relationships has shifted and I’ve started to reevaluate what love (looks like) means to me. 

Looking back on my experiences, the crushes that I had were never really mine to begin with. The catalyst for these crushes were dependent on a confession, spurred on by feelings that belonged to someone else. Very rarely did I feel romantic attraction even if I was attracted to these people in several other ways–platonically, aesthetically, sexually.

So there I was, getting into relationships with people I thought I had an inkling of romantic attraction towards, waiting and thinking I’d fall in love with them. At least that’s what I kept telling myself, that maybe it just took time, that if I waited a while longer I’d start to feel something akin to love.

Of course, it never worked out that way and the reciprocity of romantic feelings for the other person never happened. As hard as I tried, I never felt like I was on the same wavelength as them. Realizing that I didn’t share romantic feelings for this person in the same way they had for me, only made me feel shitty. It felt like a huge waste of time, mine and theirs.

I would end a relationship and when the next person came along, I thought that maybe it’ll be different. Maybe this time, I would feel something romantic. Lather, rinse, repeat, nothing changed.

For the longest time, I would rack my brain trying to figure out what was going on with me. I didn’t have the range or the language to help guide me towards an understanding of what I was experiencing. So when I finally discovered what aromanticism was, it felt like I had found the missing piece to a puzzle.

Learning to accept my aromantic identity was easy but dealing with the occasional bouts of self-doubt and finding out where I was on the spectrum was tricky. You don’t always end up on one end of the spectrum or the other, it can be a fairly gray area.

For example, some aromantics don’t experience romantic feelings while other aromantics do even if it may not be often. Not all aromantics are repulsed by romance, some enjoy fictional romance in the form of literature, music, and films/TV.  A lot of aromantics may not feel profound inclination for a romantic relationship but that doesn’t mean they don’t have intimate relationships. Queer platonic relationships do exist! 

The list goes on, but the point is that being aro isn’t exactly as black and white as we think, and despite what others may say, I’m a whole person. I’m not broken. I’m not devoid of love, emotions or feelings. I’m not less than.

*If you think you might be aromantic but you’re unsure check out this helpful post for or visit the LGBT Resource center on campus for more information.


Pliab Vang is a Hmong American, and a senior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends. Social media consultant.