Photo: Kyoung proposed to Daniel on Fifth Avenue, and Daniel said Yes! Pride Parade, 2013.
A glimpse into one of GAPIMNY’s very own couples, Daniel and Kyoung.
How did you meet?
We had been serving on the GAPIMNY Steering Committee for months but never met face-to-face until a fateful warm June evening. We both put ourselves up on the date auction at Q-WAVE’s Dates & Dumplings fundraising event. Kyoung bid on Daniel, but Daniel brought a friend who was determined to win him for herself. Daniel’s friend ultimately outbidded Kyoung. Kyoung’s turn came later. Daniel was not going to lose Kyoung again so he shot up his hand immediately and going once, going twice, and just like that Daniel won a date with Kyoung. Kyoung took Daniel to see his friend’s play and we’ve been in a relationship ever since.
What is one thing that you appreciate about each other?
Daniel: I absolutely love Kyoung’s big heart. He is devoted to people whom he loves. He offers whatever he has, whether it is his time, energy or resources, on people who need his help. He will happily cook an amazing meal, give random back massages, and take you out to see a cool show just because. One of my favorite things that he does is that he always leaves the last bite of food for me.
Kyoung: I appreciate the fact that Daniel’s the complete opposite of me. He’s family-oriented, grounded, accountable, introverted, and in love with all things material and visual. I’m self-centered, explosive, irrational, extroverted, and completely crazy about high ideals and the absurdity of pursuing dreams. If Daniel weren’t part of my life, I would not be able to stay grounded. I appreciate the fact that he still enjoys being with me. I think it’s because deep down, he’s a bit extravagant himself.
What’s one of the most challenging issues you faced as a couple?
Daniel: Practicing communication based on trust and best intentions. We work to remain open and vulnerable with each other so that our conversations always result in healing and reconciliation. We don’t succeed every time but we always come back to each other and we talk about lessons we learned for the next time.
Kyoung: I think an initial attraction was the fact that we shared so many similar experiences. We’re both gay, Asian, and immigrants. But now that we’re together, the biggest challenge is to actually get to know each other as individuals: what our stories are, how we got here, and how we think and feel about things, in a way that isn’t about how we identify ourselves, but how we actually are and how we’d like to live.
What issues do you think queer API couples face?
Daniel: For me, it’s the surprised looks we get from people on the streets and from family. First, everyone assumes we’re straight by default. Second, they definitely expect less that Asians can be gay. Third, which is what we experience most in the circles that we travel now is that people don’t expect gay Asians to end up with each other; they expect us to end up with a White partner. I find it annoying to at this point to tell people, “Yes, my partner is also Asian.”
Kyoung: I think we’re rare birds, and after growing up as minorities within minorities, it’s hard to stay connected with people who share our experiences and find role models and community to help us shape our lives. This, on the other hand, leads us to face challenges in our day-to-day lives in which we actually have no set criteria, expectations, or guidelines to make decisions, which for me, makes it incredibly challenging because I’m an indecisive person to begin with. So, actually, the biggest issue is to know how to stay together, and move forward, blazing through trails with no landmarks, and trusting everything will be OK if we just follow our hearts.