I was terrified of watching The Half of It. The dearth of representation for queer Asian American women means that, fair or not, a lot is riding on this lone film firmly situated in the variegated ‘coming of age’ genre. Based on early trailers, it’s obvious Alice Wu’s long-awaited follow up to the groundbreaking Saving Face could have easily fallen into convention. A reboot of Cyrano de Bergerac with a new ‘diverse’ cast. It could have been a sweet, yet flat rendition of a familiar tale. It could have been Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) cast as the quiet, whip-smart, puppeteer behind her un-clever, friend Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) both in love with the same girl. It could have just been yet another version of that story except with a Chinese American lead struggling to actualize her sexuality in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. It could have been trite and saccharin and perfectly watchable. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Instead, The Half of It shows us how queer a Netflix movie can be when it takes identity as a given and not a destination. Stripped bare, Wu’s newest film is a rare gift, a movie that embodies queerness and Asianness with ease and space.
This past weekend, I made a whirlwind trip to Portland, Oregon to speak at my first-ever Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) conference, the nation’s largest academic conference of Asian American Studies scholars. I was honoured to be included as part of a round-table discussion on Asian American feminism, sexism, sexual violence, and toxic masculinity; and, I was deeply moved by the fact that such a difficult subject attracted a full room of young scholars, academics and activists at 9:45am on a Saturday morning. I was even more excited to learn that the AAAS community is seeking to revive a focus on AAPI feminism at upcoming conferences.
I’ve already made many arguments about why we need AAPI Studies. The engaging, thoughtful, and supportive environment at AAAS is only the latest reason that I believe our community desperately needs to do more to support our Asian American Studies academics and scholars.
This past weekend, I attended my first AAAS conference; I certainly hope it will not be my last. For one thing, I am particularly impressed by the announcement this week that the AAAS board has decided to take a stance in support of the LGBTQ community, and to withdraw their 2018 conference from Tennessee where the state legislature has attempted to pass a spate of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the past year.
As soon as we saw this Autostraddle’s article about Roopa Rao’s web series “The ‘Other’ Love Story” we knew we had to binge watch it and devote a newsletter to it immediately. The twelve short episodes follow the lives of two teenage college students who meet and fall in love in late 1990s Bangalore.
Since 1990, the Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) has provided a supportive space for our hundreds of queer and trans A/P/A members who experience racism, homophobia and transphobia— from strangers, from other social justice movements and even from our own family members.
We will continue to hold that space in the face of homophobic statements made by S.J. Jung, a candidate for New York State Senate who promised supporters that he would try to ban pictures of same-sex couples from school textbooks. Jung’s comments reflect that the prejudices our communities face can come from people who say they are advocates for Asian Americans, immigrants, youth, seniors, or even all New Yorkers. When people like Mr. Jung speak of inclusion and protecting “the rights and freedoms of all,” where does that leave LGBTQ API people?
If Jung wants to erase us, he’s going to have to work a little harder.
If you’re like most people, you are probably fed up by increasingly ridiculous and infuriating Ryan Lochte story. To that end, let’s take a moment to spotlight an Olympic swimmer who is far more deserving of our attention instead.
Most American Twitter users were first introduced Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua in the aftermath of that absolutely horrifying Daily Beast piece in which a reporter doxxed several closeted Olympians.
The openly gay Fonua’s ensuing tweetstorm about the lives of gay athletes was both eloquent and enlightening.