A special Q&A with Barry aka @asianmapleleaf – Learn what’s beyond the ‘About’ section on asianmapleleaf.com
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Barry. I am 28… at heart. Age is just a number, right?! =) I am the middle child with two brothers – Alex and Calvin (my parents named us purposely to be easy as A.B.C.). I was born and raised in Toronto and lived there basically all my life. I currently live in New York City and moved here around 3 years ago but still travel back to Toronto about once a month to visit family and friends. It may seem like I am always traveling or Instagramming but I actually do have a day job – I work in a financial institution. Travel is my passion so that’s why I decided to share my adventures and write about all the places I am exploring.
Are you openly gay to your friends/family? What age were you when you came out?
I am openly gay to most of my friends and family. I started to come out to people when I was around 18. Coming from a semi-traditional Chinese family, being gay isn’t really something you talk about, especially with relatives. I think a lot of them suspect it because they finally stopped asking me about my “girlfriend” or when I am going to get married.
What was the biggest challenge for you being gay?
I think the biggest challenge for me was knowing my self-worth and accepting who I am. I still struggle with that at times. Also, telling my parents that I am gay was one of the most terrifying and awkward moments in my life. Fast-forward 14 years from when I came out to my parents to today, and I know they are only just tolerant of it. When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend of 13 years, the first thing they said was “now you can find a girlfriend”.
What would you tell your younger self before coming out?
I would tell myself to be brave and have confidence – that those who truly love you will love you no matter what. Self-acceptance is key. Oh, and knowing that being gay is fabulous and life is filled with rainbows and unicorns! I wouldn’t want to be any other way!
Was the gay community welcoming to you?
Yes, for the most part I am quite fortunate to have grown up in a country/city that is so accepting. Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, which I think helps build a good foundation for diversity and inclusion.
How did you meet other guys growing up?
I am aging myself even more but I used to go into the gay.com chat rooms. Also, growing up, I remember going to this awesome bar/club called Boots – just East of the Toronto village. That was THE place to meet people!
What was your first love story?
Horrible – isn’t that the case for everyone? Next question…. Lol
Tell us about your long distance relationship. How did it work or didn’t work?
I was with my ex, Brian, for 13 years – 11 of which was in Toronto, and we were able to maintain a long distance relationship for 2 years before we decided to end our time together as a couple. We are still good friends and plan to continue to be good friends. At the time, we made sure we chatted or called each other every day, and he would fly down to NYC once a month and I would fly up to Toronto once a month (so we saw each other in person every few weeks). I also made a point to introduce Brian to all my new NYC friends so that he felt like he was a part of the journey. Looking back, I think before embarking on my NYC adventure, we probably should have worked on the foundation of our relationship and made sure we were on the same page about everything so that the distance didn’t start to chip away at the relationship.
Do you have a boyfriend now?
Yes, I currently have a “bf”. He is a singer/song writer and model, who shall remain nameless. lol
How do your parents feel about you being in an interracial (intergaycial) relationship?
I am actually not sure what my parents think. Although they have always taught me to treat everyone with respect, they have also voiced their preference of having Chinese daughter in-laws so that they could talk to them and feel comfortable. Sorry mom and dad – not happening! I am dating a black man! Haha =)
Do you feel like there are challenges being in an interracial (intergaycial) relationship?
In the past when I traveled with Brian (who is Caucasian), I would make him ask for everything because we knew he would usually get a positive response and get the respect by default (that, and I was probably being a bit lazy). I did sometimes feel like I was benefiting indirectly from the “white privilege” (which btw seems prevalent in the US). Now that I am traveling with my current boyfriend, I find myself asking more, partially because I feel like I would get a more favourable response.
In addition to racism in general, there is actually quite a bit of racism within the LGBT community even though the community itself is an oppressed minority. There’s a lot here to unpack but there could be a lot of rejection because of unapologetic racial dating preferences or on the flip side, objectification of you based on your ethnicity. I remember growing up seeing profiles saying “no Asians” and my current boyfriend has had similar experiences with “no blacks”. There is definitely some sort of gay hierarchy when it comes to ethnic preference. For me, it doesn’t matter – it is about the person, and their heart is what matters. Love is love, right? I have learned to only surround myself with only good hearted people so being in an intergaycial relationship really doesn’t matter to anyone I know.
This or That – Travel Edition
Fly or Road Trip – Fly
Walk or Uber – Walk
Airbnb or Hotel – Hotel
Luxury hotel or camping – Luxury hotel (definitely!)
Sleep In or Wake Up Early – Wake up early
Nature or City – Both
Mountains or Beach – Mountains
Summer destination or winter destination – Summer
Adventure or Relaxing – Both (is this a cop out?)
East Coast or West Coast – East
Resort or Cruise – Never been on a cruise (gasp I know) – resort
Fine dining or street food – Fine dining
Planner or free spirit – Planner
One long trip or many short trips – Many short trips