Alex Hamilton Jurani

@alexandrajurani | contributor
Super Contributor
I’m a 23 year old lesbian living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and mental illnesses. I talk a lot about it on my twitter (@AlexandraJurani) and instagram (AlexJurani) while posting cute pictures of my dog

A Woman Responds to the Atlanta Shooting and Fetishization

Last Tuesday evening, a 21-year-old man went into three different spas in the Atlanta area and took the lives of eight people. Of those eight people, six of them were women of Asian descent. The shooter admitted that he did commit the murders and directly told the police that he has a “sexual addiction” and committed these murders to “eliminate temptation.” But despite those statements, the acting chief of the Atlanta Police Department said that it was too early in the investigation to determine if the horrific act is considered a racial hate crime. As an Asian-American, this past year has been a very scary time. In the last year there have been 3,800 hate crimes against the Asian community that have been reported and processed, and countless that have fallen through the cracks. And in the case of this particular crime, it was not motivated by COVID-19 microaggression, but stemmed from a sexual nature. Being oversexualized and fetishized due to race is something that people of Asian descent can all relate to and have most likely experienced, often starting at a young age. The nature of this crime has brought up an entire whirlwind of feelings and emotions that I cannot even begin to put into words, ranging from fear to anger to intense sadness. My personal experience started in elementary school and really escalated in middle school. I was regularly targeted by my peers because of the normalization of seeing folks of Asian descent as “exotic” or “tempting.” I’ve had awful things said to me, been followed home, been stalled and even had people behave towards me in aggressive ways when I said no to their advances because “people like me should be easy,” that I should feel flattered that someone wants to be with me in an intimate way, that I should just “give it up” and so much more. I would have people tell me that they wanted to “check” being with an Asian off their bucket list. Throughout all of those awful interactions I was staying to myself and just minding my own business. The intense fetishization and widespread sexual misinterpretations of the Asian community has been seen as normalized. And that’s something that needs to change. Racism against the Asian community is often ignored and forgotten in activism, we’re expected to just deal with it. What people often seem to forget is that their words, actions and intentions do hurt us, they do scare us, and racially motivated violence against the Asian community really does exist. Hyun Jung Grant, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Michels, Yong Ae Yue, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park and Daoyou Feng are the people who have been publicly identified. Let’s honor them by seeing each other as equal humans, not as racially profiled objects.

COVID-19 Fears Dismissed By Medical Professional

A couple of months ago I went into urgent care to check on an injury and address the fact that I was experiencing multiple COVID-19 symptoms. As a person with complicated preexisting health conditions I’m at higher risk of severe complications, so I wanted to get tested just to be sure that everything was OK. My nurse and doctor were amazing, they listened to everything I was saying, they were professional with my care, they made sure that any questions I had were answered and, most importantly, they treated me like I was still human despite my presenting symptoms. But once it was time for me to go to radiology, the experience took a turn for the worst. At first, it seemed as if the technician who was transporting me may have been trying to comfort me by saying that she doesn’t think that COVID is something to be concerned about. I thought to myself, “OK, she’s just trying to alleviate any type of fear I may have about my test results coming back positive, it’s just not coming across well.” But as she continued to speak I realized that was not the case.  Pretty much from the time that she got me from the exam room to radiology, while they were prepping the X-ray machine, and back to my exam room, she kept talking to me about how much COVID-19 procedures are inconvenient for her. To summarize, she repeatedly was talking about how much of a pain it is to have to wear the PPE when having to deal with positive and possibly positive COVID-19 patients. Continuing to talk about how uncomfortable and hot the PPE is, she then proceeded to take it off because it was just too annoying for her. She continued on and on about how people are blowing it out of proportion, it’s not a big deal, people shouldn’t be worried because it’s just a respiratory virus, the majority of people will be just fine if the contract it, how too many people who are anxious about their symptoms come in to get tested, etc. Once we were back in the X-ray room, I could hear her talking to the other technician about how much of an inconvenience patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms are while they were getting the room ready. I was only about eight to 10 feet away and could hear the majority of the conversation she chose to have. And in that moment, I felt so small, uncomfortable and dismissed. It’s important to have sensitive medical staff throughout this pandemic. There are so many things that they may not know. She did not know that I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and that I have to take extra precautions. She did not know I help take care of my elderly grandmother who also has EDS. She did not know that many of the people who I love the most have health complications of their own, which puts them at a much higher risk of contracting the virus and experiencing complications. What if I was a mother to a young child and was terrified I was going to pass it to them? What if I had chosen to go against social distancing protocols and had been in a group of people? What if I had visited my grandma before I started presenting symptoms and risk putting every folk in the home at risk? There are so many factors that may go into a person deciding to pursue testing and people working in the medical profession need to keep that in mind when dealing with such a sensitive health concern. And despite all of that insensitive treatment, my COVID-19 test did indeed come back negative. I did talk to patient relations at the hospital and they were fantastic. They took care of everything and were very kind, receptive and sympathetic to my complaints and concerns. I am in no way trying to speak poorly on the medical system. My purpose in writing this is hoping that it may open up a new point of perspective for those in the medical profession who choose to read it.

Why Having an Emotional Support Animal Helps

Having a pet is something that most people get to experience at some point in their life. There are many reasons why a person would get a pet such as simply loving animals, wanting a companion, having the desire to care for another being and so on. A legitimate Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a pet who provides their owner with support, comfort and companionship. In order to have an actual ESA you must work with a licensed mental health professional who believes that the animal is beneficial to your mental health. Once they decide that having an ESA is the right course of action for your treatment, they will provide you with a letter. Any type of online “registration” is not credible. Having an ESA is different from having a pet who is not an ESA. Typically you develop a special type of bond with your support animal that doesn’t come with just any pet. They learn how to read your cues, notice when you’re in need of some extra compassion and support, and provide it. Animals have the ability to provide a type of love and comfort that humans can’t, and that’s OK. Bonding with a support animal is a lot like bonding with your best friend. Of course all of your other friends are important to you, but your best friend holds a special place in your heart that not just anyone can access. There are many people who will say that their pet, ESA or not, has improved their quality of life and has even saved their life. Having a pet or an ESA can help you navigate the hardest parts in your life such as a long term condition, mental illness, grief, addiction, anxiety, stress, etc. In my personal experience, there have been times where I haven’t felt like getting out of bed for days to take care of myself due to having crippling depression, but I knew that I had to get up and take care of my pets, one ESA and one non ESA. I knew that I had to get up and walk my dog, which in turn got me to do some physical activity and be out in sunshine and nature. I knew that I had to feed the pets so while I was up I would remember to feed myself. Taking care of them in turn made me take care of myself when I would’ve just let myself waste away in bed hoping not to wake up the next day. And when those feelings would come, I would have my cat in my arms purring and cuddling with me and I knew that at least right now was going to be OK and every minute that I was around to get those cuddles from her was more than worth it. I had my precious fur babies to take care of, they needed me and I needed them, so I had to stick around. They have gotten me through some of my darkest times that I would not have been able to do without them. The love of a pet that you have bonded with is one of the purest and most genuine forms of love that you can feel. Cuddling with them in the happiest of times while jumping around in excitement, holding on to them as your tears drop onto their fur, and everything in between is how they support you. If your pet has helped you through a hard time or even saved your life, don’t let anyone make you feel like that isn’t valid. Your pet can be the bright spot that you need when you feel like you’re stuck in a world of darkness. We will all face a time where we feel like we need a reason to go on and keep living, and pets definitely provide us with that.

What We Can Learn From This Professor's Response to Grieving Student

Grief is relentless. It always seems to show its head at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes we experience painful and intense situations while we’re already engulfed in other aspects of life, school and work. These are the times when we run behind in work and school and have to cross our fingers and hope that our superiors will extend kindness and empathy towards us — which is what one college professor did for their student, Alyssa, shown in the viral tweet below. my sister died yesterday. can’t explain how much i appreciate my english prof’s compassion rn— alyssa (@fbulysa) September 29, 2020 The student reached out to her professor letting them know about the tragic loss of her sister and asked for an extension on an assignment. What her professor did was put themselves in her shoes and extended empathy towards her — expressing that they also have two sisters and could not imagine what she was going through. The professor went above and beyond, letting Alyssa know that the good work she has done in the class has not gone unnoticed. As long as Alyssa participates to the best of her ability, her professor will make sure that this tragedy does not have an additional negative impact on her education. Being shown compassion in our weakest moments is one of the things necessary for us to grieve and heal. Other teachers and professors should take note of just how much a little bit of compassion and understanding goes when extended to students. When I’ve experienced losses, the last thing that was on my mind was to continue to put my full effort into my work and getting it turned in on time. Having some blanket flexibility, given that the student uses it appropriately, can make a huge difference. Instead of missing a few assignments and then just giving up because the grade has already dropped, they could still push to be motivated into doing the work to the best of their ability. They continue to learn and take in knowledge as opposed to just throwing in the towel. I went through a sudden and intense loss in high school that I was not prepared for in any way. For a few weeks I struggled significantly with focusing because my mind would wander into thinking about the hole that was left in my heart. Some of my teachers extended their sympathies to me and offered to help how they could, they gave me a couple of extra days to get assignments and papers done, they helped me study and catch up with what I missed during lunch, they made sure I got everything that I needed, etc. Other teachers did not help me accommodate at all. Due dates were set in stone, if I missed any of the material it was on me to get the notes and teach it to myself, and if I got a bad grade on something it stayed in the grade book. Looking back at that situation, I realize that the classes that I put the most of my time and effort into were the ones with teachers who seemed to actually care about my education and were willing to accommodate me. The teachers who wanted me to succeed were the ones who, at the time, I felt like were worth putting the little energy I had into as opposed to the ones who just cared about passing vs failing. One thing that needs to be remembered in the education system is that students are humans too. And unfortunately being human means experiencing tragedy, but you don’t want that tragedy to define your life. If you’re a professor or a teacher and learn that one of your students is experiencing a loss, put yourself in their shoes for a second. Realize that you may not be on top of your game with your work, that deadlines can cause a decrease in quality because you’re preoccupied, offer your support and help to get through the hard time. Unfortunately we will all experience loss at some point in our lives, and most likely more than once. Extend the kindness to others that you would want to have extended to you in intense times of grief.

26 Photos of People Living With Chronic Illness

More often than not when living life with a chronic illness, you tend to look “normal” to outsiders looking in. They don’t see the reality of what your life is like. Even when we take pictures of what we’re going through — documenting hospital visits, testing procedures, flare ups and changes to our appearance — these aren’t always the pictures we post on social media. They typically go unseen to the outside world since we feel like we have to keep them to ourselves. Until now. Here are 26 photos that you may be able to relate to if you’re a spoonie. 1. “Posing and making funny faces to post on social media because you’re in the hospital again while in reality you’re having a breakdown because you’re so scared.” — Kaitlyn R. 2. “ When the power is out, it’s summer, you’re surrounded by wildfires… Oh! And a lyme flare/herx so you feel super sick on top of being super stressed.” — Misty W. 3. “ Me and my pregnancy pillow! I’m not pregnant… but it helps so much with sleep and pain. Plus also for anxiety and feeling safe.” — Sally A. 4. “VIG infusion days via a power port for the treatment of CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy)” — Hurtado-Palomo 5. “I generally have beautifully painted toenails. Why? Because I’m often looking at them as I’m stuck on the sofa, even though I would rather be doing other things.” — Gabbie J. 6. “Having to lay down because I took my kids to school and that simple act drained all of my energy. Some days even just going across the house can seem like a marathon.” — Bonnie P. 7. “This one at least made us laugh! The radiologists couldn’t find my newly relocated kidney on the imaging and this is what they said to me.” — Meghan W. 8. “This is for my spoonies still working the floor as medical professionals ourselves. Especially with all the PPE during COVID we so easily blend into the background at work and look like every other tech/nurse/doctor. They don’t see the abdominal compression and compression stockings underneath the scrubs or the stash or salty snacks and electrolyte drinks in my locker. I may look like just another nurse, but when you come in exasperated desperate for answers I’ll always actively listen and try to get you answers because I know that feeling.” — Leanna T. 9. “My fur babies giving me comfort after having several seizures.” — Lorrie J. 10. “ The simple joy of getting dressed even if it is in pjs that don’t match lol and I’m cuddled up on the bed.” — Leefern C. 11. “Hospital woes…heart going crazy and having severe chest pain.” — Jae M. 12. “We are not alone. My family are superheroes to me! I have spent years going in and out of doctors, ER and the ICU. The people you love are the reason why you push through situations you just don’t have the strength for. Being so ill for so long I can feel trapped in the darkness of my illness, my love ones are my light! I fight for them and every moment in this battle is worth every moment I get to spend with them!” — Kat W. 13. “ Your favorite movie on a bad day.” — Morgan N. 14. “ Patch testing for systemic contact dermatitis and feeling like a science experiment. Induced anaphlyaxis, an ER trip and figuring out how to calm that flair down all by myself as usual. Known I have papillary thyroid cancer and hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Ruling out mast cell activation syndrome, POTS and now systemic contact dermatitis. I am allergic to life.” — Chloé R. 15. “Here I am propped up in my bed with a heating pad, wrist splint and my CPAP machine. Was in pain, having heart palps and having difficulty breathing.” — Misty L. 16. “ This is my monthly pill case set up day. It usually takes me one to 1.5 hours from start to finish, but then I can (usually) not worry about it for a month. Unless I have a procedure, which might change my med schedule. Or if a doctor adds, changes or removes a medication. I’ve had to try half a dozen different pill cases to find a system that worked for me. I take a (large) handful of pills three time a day, both medication and supplements (all monitored by doctors of course). That doesn’t include the weekly injection I take for my lupus, or my monthly injection for my migraines or my insulin pens. I had to process through instinctive “medication guilt,” which is compounded when someone tries to tell me I’ll be better off without medication because (insert reason). Side affects suck, I hate feeling reliant on medication to get through each day. But the thing is… they work. So I no longer pay attention to those who try to guilt me about it. It is what it is, and I’m grateful for the medication that can help me recoup some of my quality of life.” — Nina H. 17. “Literally a month apart… first one after a flare of autoimmune disease the second four weeks earlier. Life can and does change in a heartbeat when you live with chronic illness.” — Michelle F. 18. “A week’s holiday from work: two days gently exploring countryside and resting in between short walks = three days in bed to recuperate from the exertion. Life with chronic migraine and autoimmune flare up.” — Lieu L. 19. “Sitting on my futon upside-down because of swollen feet.” — Alicia W. 20. “Getting told you are not really a candidate for a liver transplant and yours are quickly declining. Nothing like receiving news that devastates when your support system can’t be with you.” — Brittany H. 21. “Crying in the ER. ER doctor didn’t know what to do with my rare illness so instead he invalidated and pushed me aside. Which resulted in me being sent home and nearly losing my life in another ER later that day.” — Kendra J. 22. “Bruises for being stuck so many times for IVs and blood work while in the hospital.” — Jacqueline E. 23. “One script – over $2k a month. All of my meds over $5k a month. Thank goodness for amazing insurance! I feel awful for those who are not as fortunate.” — Veronica T. 24. “In an intestinal failure unit and trying to get my feelings and needs across!!” — Katie B. 25. “ Just a few months ago I was having a fibro flare/ intense migraine combo. I know we all have weird ways to relive pain. Mine that night was wrapping a towel around my head and put lots of menthol patches on my face.” — Jojo S . 26. “ I use video games as a distraction when I’m having a bad day…but do I look like I’m having a bad day? I have makeup on, I’m smiling, and my hair is fixed up. When you don’t feel the way you look on the outside.” — Jennifer M.

12 Unexpected Ways People Experience Grief

Grief is one of the most painful things a person can experience. And unfortunately, we will all go through that experience sooner or later in our lives. The traditional five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — while a good starting point, don’t always account for the complexity of this experience, or the more unexpected ways grief can show up. You may go through that process in the most common order — or you may experience different waves in different orders. You may experience other feelings as well. Listed below are some other ways that grief has manifested in other people. 1. Panic “Feelings of fear and panic that sweep over me.” — Wendy V. 2. Excessive Caretaking “Excessive caretaking of surviving family members as a way to avoid grief.” — Mara H. 3. Hyper-Fixation on Death “Hyper-fixation on death and when others I love may die.” — Megan M. 4. Fleeing or Running Away “Fleeing. After my grandma, who I was incredibly close to, passed away I moved across the country in part so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.” — Tiffany F. 5. Grieving Things That Won’t Happen “I find that I grieve life events that my son will never experience. Getting married, having children, buying a home. I watch all his friends living those things and I grieve. I wonder what he would look like today.” — Mona G. 6. Becoming a Better Friend “I like to think I’ve become a better friend and family member. My grief taught me that love and my relationships are the most important things. However, it’s also made me absolutely terrified of losing anyone in my life. I’m scared to forge new relationships because that’s just one more person I could potentially lose.” — Samone B. 7. Impulsiveness “Impulsiveness. I began smoking and switched my medication during the funeral planning process.” — Bethany J. “Impulsive spending. Ever since my brother passed away I impulse shop. I’m trying to stop.” — Millie H. 8. Losing Senses “I lost my sense of taste and smell.” — Patti N. 9. Accessing Creativity “I sometimes get really creative, I think as a way to get out my emotions. Usually it’s in things I write.” — Lisa P. 10. Jealousy “Jealousy. After my mom’s death, I sometimes have feelings of jealousy for people who still have their parents.” — Paul W. 11. Memory Loss “Memory loss. I have very few memories of my best friend’s funeral. For years I had no idea where she was buried.” — Valerie S. 12. Feeling Numb “Complete and total loss of any feeling. Four years later I feel nothing. So much loss and think no one understands me.” — Shawna S. What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

16 Relatable COVID-19 'Quarantine Confessions'

Quarantine, stay at home order, lock down, whatever you may call it, odds are you’ve experienced it during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s because you’re awaiting your test results, where you live has issued a stay at home order or you have a compromised immune system, we can all agree that staying at home for extended periods of time can have an impact on our day-to-day life and how we function. Adjusting to a life of isolation, social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing everything may not go as smoothly as you anticipated. Just know that you are not alone in navigating these new waters, and you’re not alone if you’ve found some new and perhaps “unusual” ways to cope. Here are some “embarrassing,” funny and relatable quarantine confessions from our Mighty community : “I have made a new personal best for the most days between showers. I’m embarrassed to say I went 7 days without a shower. I mean, I brushed my teeth and hair and washed my face each day!” — Michelle E. “I went overboard and sanitized the sanitizer.” — Kristy G. “Fell over the kids and broke my foot!” — Tania O. “Home nudist. Why get dressed if you’re not going anywhere? Side bonus: less laundry!” — Heather E. “Started to eat an ice cream cone without taking my mask off. Chocolate snout!” — Lynn G. “What used to be called PJs are now COVID Lounge Wear.” — Sandra H. “I have impulse bought several ridiculous things — a suction tool to release pressure in your ears, a small fan that you can clip onto your shirt, 20 meters of pom-pom trim (no idea what I’m going to do with it), and eight plain cotton T-shirts to customize with tie dye and embroidery (haven’t touched).” — Christine M. “Spent a fair amount of time in lockdown watching a family of starlings nesting in our garden. I got way too invested in watching their daily squabbles over birdseed.” — Laura J. “Who needs a bra or shaving?” — Monika S. “Eating most meals in bed.” — Rebecca L. “Stress baked 15 dozen cookies…” — Marissa H. “I don’t go out often, but sometimes need to for doctor’s appointments and I keep smiling at people. With my mask on. So I think it just looks like I’m staring at people. Oops.” — Sara-Jane F. “We eat out (by ordering in) much more than we had before COVID. I think the stress of it all has us giving in to every single food and craving we have.” — Dawn G. “I accidentally turned the fuse switch off for the freezer and defrosted the whole thing.” — Nicky H. “I haven’t stepped foot inside a grocery store since January or February.” — Elizabeth P. “Went to take a drink while wearing a mask, tried to blow a loose hair out of my face while wearing a mask, smiled thanks at someone while wearing a mask, smiled thanks at someone while wearing a mask and sunglasses, panicked when the husband was driving less than two meters away from other cars. Oh, also panicking that characters on TV shows aren’t social distancing!” — Zoe C. What’s your quarantine confession? Let us know in the comments!

Mental Health Discussions From LGBTQIA+ Asian American Voices

On July 22, 2020 there was an amazing panel on Mental Health on The Mighty featuring queer Asian voices. Matt Rivera (he/him) hosted the panel while we got to listen to Alice Tsui (she/her), Sean Chong-Umeda (he/him) and Kevin Wong (he/him) talk about their lives and experiences as queer Asian Americans. Tsui is a first-generation Asian American actress, Chong-Umeda is a jokester who introduced himself by stating that he doesn’t know how to ride a bike, and Wong is the vice president of communications for the Trevor Project. There were many amazing points made but here are five that stuck out the most to me. 1. How mental health is handled throughout the generations in Asian culture. Across the board, they all talked about and agreed that mental health essentially doesn’t exist in Asian communities. Whenever it is talked about, you are typically met with some type of toxic positivity such as “you’ll get over it,” “sleep it off,” etc. There are also a lot of misconceptions throughout the Asian community about seeking help for mental health issues. Tsui talked about the time she expressed to her mom that she was pursuing going to therapy and her mom called her in tears. She thought that the only time people pursued therapy was when they were on the edge and actively suicidal. Tsui then explained to her mother that she is not suicidal or in any type of danger, it’s just something that she’s doing in order to help her live the best life that she can. 2. Introducing your partner to your parents. Chong-Umeda expressed his gratitude toward how loving and accepting his family is. He talked about how his main concern was possibly putting the burden on his younger brother — who was 7 at the time he came out — of trying to understand why he has a male partner instead of a female one. All of those nervous feelings ended up being alleviated when his brother expressed that as long as there’s fast food at the wedding — Chong-Umeda’s partner at the time worked for a fast-food chain — then he didn’t care. Wong had a different experience; at first, his family wasn’t completely on-board with his queer identity. At first, they threw around the idea of having him go to a “special kind of doctor,” but now they’ve come around and invite him and his partner to come to dinner frequently. Tsui has had a different experience altogether due to the fact that she has never brought a romantic partner home to meet her parents; it’s a potential situation that causes her to experience high anxiety . She worries about the backlash that her partner could face if they were transgender or nonbinary. The language barrier also came up due to the fact her mom speaks Mandarin as a first language and she speaks English. A thought that crossed her mind is, “what if I bring a female Asian partner home? Someone who speaks my mom’s language — I’ve never had that before,” which ties into how difficult it can be to communicate among the Asian community. 3. Communication. As stated earlier, communication is difficult in Asian families. Love is not very often expressed through words or affection but more so through acts of service. Regarding the language barrier that Tsui and her mom have, it makes it so that they aren’t really able to have deep and productive conversation. The language barrier makes it even harder to break any misconceptions or misunderstandings that her mother may have about sexuality and mental health. Rivera has noticed that mental illness definitely runs in his family, although it is never discussed. It’s a very stigmatized topic among the community. Rivera has noticed that there are a lot of secrets in families that never get brought up because there is a severe lack of ability to communicate openly and honestly. However, even just taking little steps to be able to start to open those doors to deeper conversations can begin to change that among families which, in turn, could cause a shift in the stigma around mental illness in the Asian American community as a whole. 4. Experiences on dating apps and internalized racism. As many of us know, when you’re swiping on a dating app the first thing you tend to see and judge the person on is the photos they have. Wong has used both Bumble and Jack’d, and noticed that there are a lot more barriers on Bumble. The folks who are on Jack’d tend to judge less based on pictures alone. Neither Wong nor Tsui are big fans of judgment off of pictures alone. Rivera made note that he has noticed a trend of hit-or-miss experiences when it comes to dating apps and credits it toward the fact that people in LA still have a strong commitment to Western beauty standards. Because of that he “definitely felt growing up for a long time where [he] didn’t feel proud of being Asian or accepting Asian beauty in myself or in others.” One thing that Asian Americans tend to have to look out for when dating is “yellow fever,” when people are fetishizing them and/or their Asian culture. One good question that was said to reflect on is, “where is the line between fetishizing a person’s race and accepting and appreciating it?” 5. Anti-Asian sentiment during the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic. While our host and his guests have not faced any type of anti-Asian sentiment directly, both Tsui and Chong-Umeda received concerned calls from their parents. Cong-Umeda’s parents called him at the beginning of the pandemic because they were seeing reports of other Asian Americans being attacked on the news. Thankfully, Chong-Umeda is able to feel at least a slight sense of security due to the fact that he lives in a neighborhood that is predominantly Asian. Tsui’s mom, on the other hand, didn’t just see reports of attacks on the TV — she saw them in her own predominantly Asian neighborhood. Tsui received a phone call at the beginning of the pandemic that consisted of her mom telling her to be careful because the cars and homes of other Asian families in their neighborhood had been “vandalized and smashed.” Wong says that he has two homes: his actual home and the internet. He has noticed there are a lot of online “trolls” who hide behind their profiles while making anti-Asian remarks. Referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus” is a very commonly expressed way of showing microaggression. When you’re an Asian person online, people can find you and decide to say whatever they want to you such as shoving the “China virus” down your throat like you had some kind of part in it. After a while, seeing all of those types of comments begin to wear down on your mental health, whether or not they are directed at you. There was so much important information shared and topics discussed on this panel, and so much to take away from it that there’s no way to fit it all into one summary. I would like to thank Matt, Alice, Sean and Kevin for taking time out of their day to talk to us about what it’s like to be an Asian American who is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Watch the full panel here:

Why Naya Rivera's Character on 'Glee' Was So Important

On July 8, actress, singer and model Naya Rivera — best known for playing Santana Lopez on “Glee” — was reported missing. Rivera, 33, had been on a boat on Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son, Josey. They were swimming in the lake, and authorities now think the current became too strong while they were in the water. Rivera was able to get Josey, who was wearing a life jacket, back onto the boat, but unfortunately could not do the same for herself. Another boater found him sleeping by himself on the boat. Josey told him that his mom wasn’t able to make it back. Once the boat was searched they discovered her adult sized life jacket and identification. After search and rescue efforts were used on the lake, a body was found the morning of July 13. Later that day, the Ventura County Sheriff confirmed that the remains that were found were Rivera’s and that she sadly passed away. Coincidentally it was the seven year anniversary of the death of her “Glee” co-star, Corey Monteith. River’s breakthrough role was playing a Latina, lesbian cheerleader on the TV show, “Glee.” Her character had a huge impact on the LGBTQA+ community. For many, myself included, she was the first female person of color we saw openly struggling with navigating her sexuality and coming out on screen. When you’re able to closely identify with a character who’s going through a lot of the same things you struggle with internally, you tend to develop an attachment to that character. She gave me hope while I was still closeted. She showed me that you may lose some people who are important to you when you come out and that you can still survive it, even though it’s painful. And being able to see a happy and loving lesbian relationship between Santana and Brittany is how I learned that it is possible to find genuine love as a lesbian. In season 3, episode 7, Santana comes out to her grandmother. One of the things she said really hit home with me: “[Being gay] makes every day feel like a war. I walk around so mad at the world, but I’m really just fighting with myself. And I don’t want to fight anymore, I’m just too tired. I have to just be me.” The first time I heard this I burst into tears thinking, “That’s exactly how I feel. I’m not broken, other people experience the same thing.” Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez, definitely played a huge part in my life growing up. She led me to pursue learning who I am as opposed to just trying to fit into the mold that everyone else had made for me. She showed me that there is nothing more freeing than being who you truly are. It’s hard, but in the end it is definitely worth it. Naya Rivera will be missed by many, those who were a direct part of her life and those whose lives she’s touched by playing a queer POC on screen.

People Recreate Grief Photos in #IWannaFeelAgain TikTok Challenge

I was recently introduced to a challenge on TikTok that’s going around called the “#IWannaFeelAgain” challenge. P eople are using this hashtag and a version of the song “Touch” by Sleeping at Last to recreate a photo they took with a loved one who has passed away. This challenge has spread to all types of loss, from the loss of pets, pregnancy loss and child loss, as well as the loss of siblings, parents, grandparents, romantic partners and other family members. These videos are powerful — it’s a new way to see the void grief leaves in our lives. While watching these videos, you’re able to see a whole range of emotions all at once. From pure, raw pain to intense love and even acceptance in some cases. These videos are a way to show that no matter how much time has passed, your loved one will always be on your mind and in your heart. You can see a compilation below: DEATH LEAVES A HEARTACHE NO ONE CAN HEALDEATH LEAVES A HEARTACHE NO ONE CAN HEAL #iwannafeelagainPosted by TikTok Epic Pranks on Sunday, June 7, 2020   I’ve experienced a lot of loss throughout my life and have grieved each one differently. Between the sudden loss of my grandfather, losing pets throughout my life, losing my friends throughout the chronic illness community and so on. However, the loss that really comes to mind while watching these videos is the loss of my best friend since middle school to suicide at the beginning of August in 2018. I truly feel that if I had known about this sooner, I would’ve had an easier time accepting the losses that I’ve felt. Often times, when I go back and look at the pictures I have together with my loved ones who have passed away, I think to myself, “I wish that I could have just one more picture with them. One more memory that’s preserved in a way I can see with my eyes.” I think this challenge is a great way to honor that “just one more” feeling. Recreating those photos can be a cathartic, although painful, experience. You are able to see the void that’s left when you lose someone, as opposed to just feeling it in your heart. The emotions that get brought up can be expressed in all sorts of different ways. You can have tears of joy, sadness or pain, you can laugh, you may even feel anger. But the end goal from recovering from a loss is typically to reach that acceptance point where you finally come to at least a little bit of peace that they’re not coming back. And once you reach that point, there may be a weight lifted off of your shoulders as you sigh to yourself and say, “I made it.” When you lose someone who you love, you may feel like your entire world is falling apart and that you won’t be able to survive it. The pain is suffocating, the emotions are like a tornado in your brain. But a beautiful thing about these videos is that it shows you that you did survive it. And while that pain may still be there, you can look at the original photo side-by-side with the recreated photo and see just how far you’ve come. You were able to get through the initial process of grief, and I am so proud of each and every person who has accomplished that. These videos also show that there is no time limit for grief since the photos being recreated can be photos from recently, as well as photos from years ago. Once grief is introduced to you, it stays with you for the rest of your life. But these recreations show that while you’ll never “get over it,” you will get through it. A few of these videos really stuck out to me. The ones that show pregnancy loss are truly heartbreaking. When you see men and women in a military uniform in one picture and gone in the next you can’t help but feel a huge sense of gratitude for their service and sacrifice for our country. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on us all, and it can be easy to lose perspective — when you see one of those videos you quickly get reminded that we still have people risking their lives to help ensure our safety during such trying times. The style of videos that has the strongest impact on me were the ones containing an empty doorway. Typically, the original picture or video that’s being recreated has the loved one who has passed away either standing in or walking through the door. Once they do the recreation you just see an empty doorway. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve waited for a person I’ve lost to walk through the door. How badly I yearn for them to come through just one more time and get one last moment. How many times I’ve looked at my phone thinking I would see their name on my screen or waiting for a call back after I call them to listen to the sound of their voice on their voicemail message. That style is going to touch a lot of people because anyone who has experienced a tragic loss knows the feeling of hoping that they’ll walk through the doorway so you can see them one more time even though you know it isn’t possible. I hope these videos teach people they don’t need to suppress the emotions they feel from grief. Too often we feel as if we have to rush ourselves through the phases and carry on with life when in reality, you need to let yourself go through those phases and express them. The videos from this challenge also show you that all types of people experience grief. While traveling through the phases of grief it’s very easy to feel alone and isolated. I sincerely hope this challenge helps bring people peace and shows them they’re not alone. I definitely know it helped me.