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.
You don’t know me, but I’ve been with you since the very beginning.
I was organizing on-campus screenings when Justin Lin made Better Luck Tomorrow on nothing more than some shoestrings, a little spit, and a handful of maxed out credit cards. I shelled out my movie ticket money for American Pie and Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, and even gritted my teeth through the (many, many, shitty) sequels despite my being the polar opposite of these film franchises’ target demographics. I was there for you in Flashforwardand Sleepy Hollow and Selfie. I have supported you for over a decade as an immensely talented actor and one of Asian America’s break-out stars, and no one was more thrilled than I when you landed the part of Sulu in J. J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise; few actors deserved the opportunity more.
Asian American actors are a special bunch: to a person, you all seem to be thoughtful, reasoned, caring and politically conscious activist-actors who are deeply knowledgeable about mainstream media’s (under/mis)representation when it comes to people of colour. Perhaps it comes from the years during which you are forced to toil in acting obscurity as one of the industry’s few Asian American actors or directors, but when at last you get your “big break”, most of you use your newfound platforms to force a conversation on media diversity and better representation. I experience a moment of joyful anticipation every time I stumble across an interview with an Asian American actor, because — whether BD Wong, or Constance Wu, or Daniel Dae Kim, or Daniel Henney, or Aziz Ansari, or you — you use your respective spotlights to force a necessary conversation about Hollywood’s diversity holes. And, you all always have really great and thought-provoking things to say.