‘Visibility Project’ portraits show LGBTQ Asian Americans in all their power

Community is a core tenet of G3S and through this platform, we seek to create a digital library of queer API storytelling. Thankfully, we are not alone in this mission and today want to highlight the work of Mia Nakano’s Visibility Project and Resilience Archives. The Visibility Project is the culmination of an eight-year labor of love, a photographic and oral record of over 200 queer Asians living in the United States. The Resilience Archives is a digital walking tour documenting
the contributions, memories, and historical moments of the LGBTQ
Asian-American and Pacific Islander community in the San Francisco Bay
Area. This week, we’ll be sharing other stories that further illustrate the power of the oral and written tradition to uplift and affirm our identities.

-Jeffrey

‘Visibility Project’ portraits show LGBTQ Asian Americans in all their power

Advertisements

How Koreatown Rose From The Ashes Of L.A. Riots

Some excerpts:

[Edward] Chang, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of California, Riverside, says they came in pursuit of the American dream — and they weren’t alone. Many Korean immigrants arrived with hopes of becoming economically successful so they could secure their children’s futures by sending them to the country’s top universities.

“And many believed that owning and operating small businesses was the easiest and quickest way to realize the American dream,” Chang says.

But working toward that dream came at a cost. Purchasing a business was expensive, so the new immigrants bought where they could afford property, often in poor, working-class neighborhoods in and near South L.A.

“Remember that they came here without any knowledge of a history of racial confrontation or race relations in America,” he says. “And many came believing the United States of America was a white country.”

“Prior to 1992, Korean immigrants considered themselves Korean,” he says. “But after 1992, they began to call themselves Korean-Americans.”

According to Chang, that’s an important distinction because it means Koreans began to see themselves as a permanent part of the U.S., rather than temporary residents. Korean-Americans began reaching out, working with other ethnic communities to lessen discrimination and politically empower themselves.

How Koreatown Rose From The Ashes Of L.A. Riots

They Call Us Bruce – Episode 16: They Call Us George Takei

Last weekend, I attended
the second ever Asian-American ComiCon at LA’s Japanese-American National
Museum. It was a much-needed break from routine, and an opportunity to meet George
Takei, who was being honored that evening (as a gay Asian trekkie, this was
exciting on many, many levels).

Although I missed the
diversity/LGBT panel, the other discussions were plenty engaging, with writers,
actors, producers, and all the people that make entertainment happen sharing
their thoughts and life experiences.

The last event of the day
was a live recording of the They Call Us Bruce podcast with George. Near the
end, they asked him what he would say to encourage people to engage in the process
necessary to build a more representative future.

George said to

“Do something
about it. I mean even just on a minimal level of going to the theater. Because
we call it theatre arts, but it’s also show business. And the ones that do good
business are the ones that get produced.

In
New York, I go to see an August Wilson play, an African-American writer, and
when I’m sitting, I like to kind of check out the audience, you know? And
there’s a dominant African-American presence.

I go
to see a David Henry Hwang play, a Tony award-winning playwright, talking about
Chinese or Chinese-American subjects, with Chinese or Asian-American actors on
stage. And I look at the audience.

Sprinkling.
Light sprinkling.

I did
Philip Gotanda’s play The Wash in New York and here at the
Mark Taper Forum. I look out into the audience from between the curtain, and
it’s the same thing.

A
sprinkling.

And a company like the Mark Taper Forum is a nonprofit, but nevertheless it has
to make money. And they know that with an African-American play, they know that
will attract an audience. A Latino play will attract an audience. But with
Asian-Americans, it’s kinda chancy, so let’s put on an African-American play
this season.

So even on the minimal level of being there with your bum on
the seat, playing for a ticket – that makes a difference.”

It
was an important reminder that sometimes, you don’t have to be in front of an
audience, or the loudest voice in a crowd, to stand out. You can be the lone minority everyone else remembers at an fundraiser, or the 100th ticket
that helps the production break even. By doing your own thing and being part of
the backdrop – part of someone else’s everyday – you can do good in the world.

gayforbatwings (Andrew)

They Call Us Bruce – Episode 16: They Call Us George Takei

Live Broadcasting Gay Banality

Everyone, from the most devoted advocate of identity politics, to his neighbor down the hall who couldn’t care less, has to do their laundry.

For all the high (and not-so-high) minded discussions that take place every day, it’s the day-to-day things – visiting our nephews, burning our dinners; doing our laundry – that seem to work best at dispelling stereotypes about who we are to our friends, to our families, and to each other.

This week, I’d like to celebrate the everyday, and highlight the value of showcasing what’s common. – Andrew

Some excerpts:

“[With gay men almost invisible in Chinese society]— just 15% of Chinese LGBT individuals have come out to their families — and gay characters…  subject to censorship, live streaming on gay social media apps [has become] instantly popular, providing much-needed visibility.”

“It helps people who have just realized their identity as gay,” [Kyle] says. “They can see other gays who enjoy their life and live happily, which will give them lots of courage and confidence.”

“The popularity of live streaming in China, particularly on Blued, could very well offer young gay men in China an alternative to the representations they encounter in the mainstream media, Khoo says, adding that “The ‘liveness’ and authenticity of these broadcasts provide a realness to representations of LGBT people and their everyday experiences.”

Live Broadcasting Gay Banality

On Being Asian, Gay, and Naïve

An excerpt:

Whether it be stereotypes to my ethnicity that repulses
other people or that I may want something serious “too fast” … I am
sorry my desires are “too fast” for your “right now” demands. Actually
to be frank, I am not sorry. I am not sorry for my turmeric skin and my
jet black hair.  What you perceive as submissive when all I am doing is
showing respect and cultural manners.  I am a more tactile person when
showing affection; it stems from my cultural upbringings. Does it make
you uncomfortable that I am a more aggressive Asian? War stains my
bloodlines and I was raised to be a fighter.

Forgive me for my frankness for I do not mean to offend.
But when one writes me off as being too feminine bottom. You my friend,
know nothing. I have the drive of my tiger mom. I don’t have anything to
say to what you perceive to be too masc or too femme. You are stuck in
the quicksand of your own twisted reality. Too enclosed in the narrow
opening of your mind…

On Being Asian, Gay, and Naïve

Disaggregating the Spectrum – Advancing Justice | AAJC – Medium

An excerpt:

Growing up, I often felt that you were either born privileged or not privileged, white or “other,” straight or gay. It wasn’t until I started college at UCLA, surrounded by fellow Filipino American and LGBT students, where I realized that there is a spectrum of unique identities. But many of these students had felt marginalized merely because of who they were. Furthermore, they often felt like they were part of the “model minority” myth, where our needs as Asian Americans weren’t prioritized because we were seen as doing better academically and economically compared to other minorities, and therefore didn’t need as many resources or attention. At the time, we were engaged in a campaign called “Count Me In,” which called on the University of California system to disaggregate their data into distinct ethnic subgroups beyond merely “Asian” or “Pacific Islander.”

After graduating from UCLA and moving to Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of working at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), where we sought to improve the quality of life of AAPIs by increasing their access to the federal government. We encouraged federal agencies to tackle the “model minority” myth by disaggregating their data to better identify the needs of our diverse community, including in areas like education, health, civil rights, and federal hiring. We understood that the AAPI community is not monolithic, but rather is extremely diverse: we represent over 30 ethnic groups, and speak over 100 languages and dialects.

Although diverse, the Filipino American community can also be very divided, given that the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands with numerous distinct dialects. These regional, cultural, and language-based divisions often continue with factions here in the United States. The organization that I now work for — the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) — strives to unite and empower our community’s diverse individuals and organizations by focusing on leadership development, civic engagement, and advocacy. One of NaFFAA’s initiatives, what we call our “Diverse Segments Council,” tackles this by advocating for the needs of diverse communities, including LGBT individuals, women, veterans, and young professionals.

Disaggregating the Spectrum – Advancing Justice | AAJC – Medium