I felt so shy. I wasn’t sure how to stand. I wanted to cross my arms but, somewhere way back when, I’d read that the stance was unfriendly. I wanted to make friends. Like a large octopus, I shifted my weight and moved my arms from one uncomfortable position to the next and watched from the periphery of the Dyke March.
I’d just returned to Philly from college and while I was excited to see my high school friends, in four years some aspects of my life had undergone significant changes. My friend there with me was an ally and Naval Academy grad. She had just told me that this area of my life was something she’d never be able to understand. I wished for a space where my experiences would make sense to those around me. The mass ahead included so many happy people interacting with one another, but where did I belong? There seemed no good place to start.
It wasn’t long before a smiling face approached. She introduced herself, presented me with a card and explained “hotpot!”. I was thrilled. Somewhere with others who understood? Somewhere with people also of Asian descent? Wow. I’d been one of five part-Asian people in my high school and it hadn’t occurred to me that upon returning to Philly I might meet people with similar cultural backgrounds. This sounded too good to be true.
Four months later, I know that hotpot! is very real and not too good to be true. Through the monthly potlucks and various social meetings I have become connected to the other members. Hotpot! ensures a safe space to laugh, eat, share stories and join to effect social change where it is needed. I couldn’t ask for more.
Recently, at the Trans March, I was certain of where to stand. Not on the sidelines, not shy and scared, but right in the mix with my friends in hotpot!