Yesterday we went to the pub with Tung and today he read my writings about that night. His English isn’t polished but at times correctness is not necessary when creating a writing voice or impact. Coming out was a long time ago for us and although we remember the time it’s impact has been dulled by the years; we sometimes forget that this story is happening every day all around us. So when you see someone withdrawn or shy, take a moment to think of what might be going on beneath the calm waters and see if they need more than the world is giving them right now. They could just need you. This is Tung’s letter to us.

“This is way much more than I expect. I know you through your writings. But I don’t know you got me this deep. That night I kept you walking around cause you asked for the pride party but I tried to ignore it. Even recommend something else. You asked for it again. I tried to distract you with the night market but I guess maybe God wanted me to go to the pride. And I wasn’t sure and kept you guys walking with me. Even till we’re standing at the crossroad where I had to make a decision to go or not. I faced the crossroad as usual. And I asked myself: what are keeping you here? 

 I saw different taxies keeping saying hello to me. Which one should i choose? The one I used to call? Or just took a random one? I still waited. Still questioned. Till a moment I looked back and saw you and Charlie seem to be tired of waiting. I realised I was a stone that blocks the stream of my life. And people around me might be tired. They might be waiting for me. Then I decided: ok just go to see. If the bar had been GC, I would have never gone. But it’s a different one. It’s like a new experience that I didn’t know which way it could lead me: good or bad? I didn’t know. And you will never know if you never ask. Then I just caught the one coming to me that moment. As I had been taking any opportunities coming on my way. 

We came there. But you guys will never know how nervous I was. My hands were shaking. And you should put this in your writing: vietnamese pride staff didn’t give me welcome gift but you guys had. As you were foreigners. Why? The reason that holds me till now is the racism among Viet gays. It’s always a big deal to me. But I just need time, motivation and inspiration. I need someone to wrap my hands, hug me and tell me: I love you with who you are, I will be the first and the last staying with you. I saw you guys together and it’s a huge inspiration for me. Dramatically, you guys are like jesus, buddha to me. You guys have everything that I doubt a gay couple can have. And all you have is what I have been dreaming to have. 

 When we were at the bar, there were some people I recognised from Grindr. Many of them ignored me. And many I ignored. I was, am and maybe will always be alone here. When you told me Charlie ignored the Aussie guy I was freaking happy. I realised: hey, there’re some guys seem to be fancy here, actually they could be so pathetic. Who knows why they moved here. For new life? Yes. But the life they can be a picker instead of being picked. You guys stayed around me whole night instead of hanging out with others. That’s enough. It’s a gay bar. It’s a gay pride. It’s a place for me. It’s a place I was covered with people like me and support me. If I had kept faking myself, where could I have been myself? 

Then I met Kyle. I met people that ignored me. And out of the app, the life that they’re a super star, many of them were alone at the bar seeking for a partner, a friend, an attention and not-being-alone-among-people. The last question in my mind was: what could happen tomorrow after this night? I don’t know. And no one could tell me. Like the bar, I came, I got bad treatment right at the door, but I crossed it. I still got some sad moments inside a place known to be the fun. But look at me, I’m happy. I have friends here. Just 2. But they’re protecting me. They were with me and for me. I cried. I came to the toilet to cry. So embarrassed and dramatic. 

 I still talked and smiled to Kyle because I know the reason. He’s tired of me hiding myself. He’s tired of being not able to come to places for him, for me with me. All because of me. I came back home. I couldn’t sleep. Because I kept thinking about the past, present and my future. I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

 I have been writing myself but in Vietnamese about my journey, like a diary. I want to make it one day an inspiration or just a material for maybe a young guy got the same problems like me, a way out.
 I feel so relieved that I can say, share and be shared with these things. Thank you so much. And don’t feel bad when I keep paying you stuff. People pay a lot to pray for gods, buddhas. And here, right now, I have real people that made my wishes come true. I don’t see how I can pay you enough for this. Seriously. I’m literally crying now, lol (Thanks mom. Your DNA is amazing) See? Who needs god while normal people can be this amazing and important to others.”

We always say that we want the real experience, the genuine window into a place, a country, a culture. We look into windows all the time, we see and we learn but so rarely do those windows into a culture talk back. It seems that we don’t have to be great to do great things, and most of the time we don’t even know you’re doing them.