Nick Mattson, interviewed in conjunction with Danny Keene and Chris O’Neil, was given his mother’s natal name as his middle name, while his surname is that of his father.
When asked about one’s name and its connection or importance to identity, Nick focused more on his middle and last names being both a way of equally honoring his parents and also providing a connection to an ethnic heritage, saying, “I definitely feel a certain connection because my full name – if you just hear Nick Mattson, it’s a very white sounding name. So, if people see that in print, they’re like, ‘He’s a white dude, but Nicholas Sirinada Mattson is kind of very obviously different. When I say Sirinada, people do a double take because they don’t know what on earth it is. I feel like, in a certain way, it’s representative of me because my parents obviously come from very different places. And so, I like the fact that my name has elements of both because I don’t like to think of myself as exclusively being white or exclusively being Asian. And so, I like that my name gives me that versatility… Maybe it does connect me to my Indonesian roots, but, to be honest, I feel so Americanized and I’ve been so detached from those roots that sometimes I regret the fact that I don’t have a closer connection to that side of the family.”
Nick, a college-age student, was also asked about his future plans. He responded that, “I’m not traditionally masculine in the sense that I need to make sure my family name is passed on. I don’t tend to like hyphenated names just because they’re a mouthful. I don’t know… I’m kind of ambivalent about it; I’m not crazy about new age naming practices like creating a portmanteau of two names. That annoys me actually… [My name], it’s not the most important element of my identity. I appreciate that it reflects my identity, but at the same time, it’s not vital… I mean, I’d like my kids to have those identifiers in their names somewhere. I’m just not that picky about it being a middle name versus last name.”
Interviewed by Meaghan Berns