What a Fraternity Hazing Death Revealed About the Painful Search for an Asian-American Identity

What a Fraternity Hazing Death Revealed About the Painful Search for an Asian-American Identity:

Asians are the loneliest Americans. The collective political consciousness of the ’80s has been replaced by the quiet, unaddressed isolation that comes with knowing that you can be born in this country, excel in its schools and find a comfortable place in its economy and still feel no stake in the national conversation. The current vision of solidarity among Asian-­Americans is cartoonish and blurry and relegated to conversations at family picnics, in drunken exchanges over food that reminds everyone at the table of how their mom used to make it. Everything else is the confusion of never knowing what side to choose because choosing our own side has so rarely been an option. Asian pride is a laughable concept to most Americans. Racist incidents pass without prompting any real outcry, and claims of racism are quickly dismissed. A common past can be accessed only through dusty, dug-up things: the murder of Vincent Chin, Korematsu v. United States, the Bataan Death March and the illusion that we are going through all these things together. The Asian-­American fraternity is not much more than a clumsy step toward finding an identity in a country where there are no more reference points for how we should act, how we should think about ourselves. But in its honest confrontation with being Asian and its refusal to fall into familiar silence, it can also be seen as a statement of self-­worth. 

The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge

The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge:

In May, a group of Russian activists who work with the L.G.B.T. Network introduced me to a number of men who are in hiding in Moscow; eight of them sat down for interviews with me. As anti-gay violence has spread across the country, the Network has tried not only to document the situation but also to provide some limited services to victims. Staffers set up a hotline for reporting attacks and on two occasions organized what they call “evacuations,” in which they help people threatened by anti-gay violence to move to larger, and theoretically safer, cities in Russia. But they had little experience working with any of the predominantly Muslim republics of the North Caucasus, which the activists, like most Russians, perceive as a strange and separate world.

When activists heard about the purges in Chechnya, the Network set up an e-mail address and a phone number for Chechens to call. “These middle-of-the-night calls started pouring in,” the person who answers the calls told me. The staffer, who asked not to be identified, had never been to Chechnya and knew little about it before the nighttime calls began. The conversations went on for hours, “because people are trying to figure out if they can trust me.”

The Moscow operation is run by a small team, including two lesbians, Olga Baranova and Tatiana Vinnichenko. At the time I visited, they had helped thirty-five people leave Chechnya. Another ten had left independently and asked for help once they had done so. That number continued to grow after I left Moscow. There were also four people with whom the activists had lost contact after buying their tickets.

They didn’t have much of a plan for what they would do with the Chechens after they arrived, because it was assumed that they would quickly leave Russia. They did not realize that, even under the best of circumstances, refugee visas to safe countries would take months to process. More than forty Chechens are now living in temporary housing arranged by Russian activists.

The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge

The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge:

In May, a group of Russian activists who work with the L.G.B.T. Network introduced me to a number of men who are in hiding in Moscow; eight of them sat down for interviews with me. As anti-gay violence has spread across the country, the Network has tried not only to document the situation but also to provide some limited services to victims. Staffers set up a hotline for reporting attacks and on two occasions organized what they call “evacuations,” in which they help people threatened by anti-gay violence to move to larger, and theoretically safer, cities in Russia. But they had little experience working with any of the predominantly Muslim republics of the North Caucasus, which the activists, like most Russians, perceive as a strange and separate world.

When activists heard about the purges in Chechnya, the Network set up an e-mail address and a phone number for Chechens to call. “These middle-of-the-night calls started pouring in,” the person who answers the calls told me. The staffer, who asked not to be identified, had never been to Chechnya and knew little about it before the nighttime calls began. The conversations went on for hours, “because people are trying to figure out if they can trust me.”

The Moscow operation is run by a small team, including two lesbians, Olga Baranova and Tatiana Vinnichenko. At the time I visited, they had helped thirty-five people leave Chechnya. Another ten had left independently and asked for help once they had done so. That number continued to grow after I left Moscow. There were also four people with whom the activists had lost contact after buying their tickets.

They didn’t have much of a plan for what they would do with the Chechens after they arrived, because it was assumed that they would quickly leave Russia. They did not realize that, even under the best of circumstances, refugee visas to safe countries would take months to process. More than forty Chechens are now living in temporary housing arranged by Russian activists.

geniusbee: Resistance can take many forms – from education to…

geniusbee:

Resistance can take many forms – from education to litigation, from within a small community to throughout the globe. Though I have omitted highly important figures like Yuri Kochiyama and Fred Korematsu, I wanted to spotlight lesser-known individuals who resisted injustice in a variety of ways. They demonstrate that we too can act against oppression and inequality, however we are able.

[Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga] [Ina Sugihara] [Mitsuye Endo] [Norman Mineta] [Aki Kurose

Many thanks to The Densho Project for the research materials

I’ve put a printed zine version of these drawings and stories on my Storenvy for preorder, all profits from sales of the zine will be donated to the ACLU. Zines will be shipped out in early March. 

asamstudiesintro: thegayreich: Jiro Onuma:  A LGBT Account on…


Jiro Onuma (center)


Block 3 Mess Hall workers, Topaz concentration camp, Utah, 1943


Jiro Onuma (right) and Ronald, 1940s


Three men by guard tower, Tule Lake concentration camp, 1940s

asamstudiesintro:

thegayreich:

Jiro Onuma:  A LGBT Account on Japanese Internment Camp

Jiro Onuma (1904-90) was a gay Japanese American born on February 2, 1904, in Kanegasaki, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Onuma was 19 years old when he and his father boarded the Shinyo Maru steamship in Yokohama headed for San Francisco in 1923. His father, Kogoro Onuma, was already working for a laundry in Coalinga, California, and he returned to Japan to accompany his son’s journey. Within six months of Jiro Onuma’s arrival, the possibility that the rest of his family might move to California was denied by the passage of US federal law prohibiting Japanese immigration.

By 1932, Onuma was working in the present-day Tenderloin district of San Francisco as a laundry machine presser for Mercury Laundry and Cleaners, where he and a dozen other Nikkei laundrymen also rented rooms. During the prewar era, Onuma took numerous photographs with his Japanese American male friends and lovers dressed up for professional portraits at the Moriyama Studio in Japantown or posed casually together in and around San Francisco.

Onuma was an avid collector of homoerotic male physical culture ephemera and magazines. He owned a postcard displaying a matador with a bronze erect penis that could be detached and used as a necktie clip. 

In 1942, Onuma spent five months confined in San Bruno, California, at the Tanforan Assembly Center, where U.S. authorities imprisoned nearly 8,000 Japanese Americans inside a racetrack complex hastily converted to house inmates in whitewashed horse stables, converted grandstands, and quickly constructed barracks in the infield area. According to Onuma’s WRA case file, Tanforan authorities did not even issue Onuma a cot and straw tick mattress to sleep on until twenty-five days after his arrival.

On September 11, 1942, the federal government transported Onuma to Topaz concentration camp in central Utah. As a 38-year old single bachelor, Onuma could have been housed in the bachelor’s quarters. However, he was placed in Block 3, Barrack 5, Unit B, with Topaz baseball star Masao Akagaki and his mother Fuku Nishi. 

Onuma’s collection contains three photographs taken while he was imprisoned at Topaz. The first is a group portrait showing Onuma and his workmates from the Block #3 Mess Hall. The second photograph shows Onuma and his boyfriend Ronald (last name unknown). It is quite possible that his portrait was taken at the cooperatively run Topaz Photo Studio in the summer of 1943, shortly before Ronald and their Kibei friend Sakae Sasaki were sent to Tule Lake, the high security concentration camp redesignated as a “segregation center” for “disloyal” inmates.

In spring 1943, pro-administration forces used fear tactics and shame to urge inmates to change negative responses to questions 27 and 28 of the “loyalty questionnaire.“ Onuma initially answered “no” to both questions, but four weeks later he filed to change his answer to question 28, thereby enabling him to remain at Topaz until his release on May 19, 1944. Although Onuma did not go to Tule Lake with his friends and lover, he did receive a photograph of Ronald, Sasaki, and another man at Tule Lake showing barbed wire and a guard tower in the distance. Onuma’s wartime pictures might be the only known photographs of adult gay Japanese in the American concentration camps.

On June 27, 1990, at age 86, Onuma died alone in his spare studio apartment in a building known as the Lone Star Hotel. Edward Mycue found his body many days after his death. Within hours of this discovery, Onuma’s apartment was robbed and stripped of its valuables while his body was still in the room. In his last will and testament, Onuma left half of his modest estate to Peter Mycue and half to Kimochi, a nonprofit caregiving organization primarily serving Japanese American seniors. In 2000, Edward Mycue and his partner Richard Steger gifted Onuma’s materials to the GLBT Historical Society. Although Jiro Onuma was not a prominent figure in LGBT or Japanese American communities during his lifetime, the dual legacies that he honors in his last will and testament appear remarkable today amidst the scarcity of queer Japanese American wartime images, stories, and memories.

other sources about
Jiro Onuma:

Jiro Onuma | Densho Encyclopedia

Looking for Jiro Onuma – GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

(journal article abstract)

http://ift.tt/2fE5hPk

Follower Friday: semajaime

Follower Fridays is a series of profiles highlighting members of Gaysian Third Space to showcase the diversity of gaysians in the Community. This week’s featured member is @semajaime.

image

Who are you?

Hi there, I’m James! I am first and foremost the queer son of Vietnamese refugees. I am a scholar-activist, a teacher and mentor, and that one sassy friend you have a love-hate relationship with.

Where are you from?

I’m from Fontana which is a desert-turned-suburban city in Southern California. We say we’re from the Inland Empire or the IE, an acronym that almost no one knows about unless you’re from here. I’m currently based in LA though, an acronym that basically the whole world can recognize (sorry IE for giving y’all some shade, love you).  

What do you do?

I hold social justice and equity at the center of almost* everything I do. Right now, I’m a graduate student at UCLA in the MPH Community Health Sciences and MA Asian American Studies dual program. Improving the health and lives of marginalized communities (with a focus on Southeast Asian Americans) is a core goal of mine. My research investigates how gay Vietnamese American men’s dual minority status affects their mental health, so hit me up if you’re interested in talking about this! 🙂

*because let’s be real, I’m not perfect.

What are you passionate about?

Creating aesthetically pleasing presentations and diagrams!

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

I’m going to interpret “job” from the Final Fantasy perspective. I would love to be a summoner (who wouldn’t want to be Yuna from FFX) or a black mage because they’re basically the Avatar.

If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?

I honestly don’t know if any one idea of mine would ever change the world (even though this is a hypothetical). But I am all about those community-based ideas and people power.

Any personal plugs?

Check out and donate to these orgs: Southeast Asian Community Alliance, API Equality – Northern California, APAIT (Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team)