Faces of Asian America: Being a Queer Artivist | #APAHM2014

Celeste Chan by Paul Von Bex

Celeste Chan is a queer artivist who has been writing, making films, performing, curating, and collaborating in art-organizing projects for 10+ years.

How do you see yourself as a queer artivist?

In collaboration with my partner KB Boyce, I co-direct Queer Rebels, a queer and trans people of color arts project.

I see myself as part of a creative constellation in the Bay Area. We are making art as activism, as homage, as irreverence, to subvert, to queer, to challenge, as people who were told that our voices didn’t matter. We are non-mainstream.

As a queer artivist, I’m schooled by DIY and immigrant parents from Malaysia and the Bronx, NY. In my film and writing, I’m obsessed with hidden histories, queerness as lens, race and representation, experimental form and aesthetics. One of my newest collaborations is MOON RAY RA, a performative experiment with KB Boyce.

As an artivist, I find balance between focusing on my own work and building up a platform for queer/trans artists of color. With Queer Rebels, there’s urgency in our work. There are so many vital voices that need to be heard.

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Faces of Asian America: Being a History Detective | #APAHM2014

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Ellen Wu is an Asian American historian, writer, and teacher with special emphases on immigration, race and Asian America.

How do you see yourself as a historian?

I am an Asian American history detective! I also call myself a “Hoosierchino”—an Indiana-born, raised, educated, and now employed second-generation Chinese American. I’m also a mother, wife, sister, friend, seeker of tasty morsels, and aspiring home cook/baker. I make a fierce hot and sour soup and green onion pancakes from scratch. I like to experiment with buttercream, mochi, and black sesame seeds.

My job as an Asian American history detective lets me combine some of greatest passions. I was originally drawn to Asian American Studies as a way to understand my own place in the world. But I soon learned that it is much than that. The founders of Asian American Studies emphasized the importance of education relevant to APA communities. They also believed that it was possible not only to fight oppression, but to banish it altogether.

The original, radical vision of Asian American Studies continually inspires me. I strive to tell new stories in such a way that is meaningful and accessible to Asian Americans from all walks of life.  I am interested in ordinary people who collectively did extraordinary things. But I am also just as intrigued by actions that had consequences (whether intended or not) that make us uncomfortable or even ashamed today. I believe that historians have the responsibility to acknowledge the full range of human activity and its outcomes—positive, negative, and all points in between.

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Faces of Asian America: Being a Composer and Lyricist | #APAHM2014

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Tim Huang is a composer and lyricist living in NYC.

I am a composer, lyricist, Asian dude.  I am a writer of theater living in New York City.  Among my more notable credits are a few one acts for Prospect Theater Company, York Theatre, and Baayork Lee’s National Asian Artists Project.   I was a 2008 MacDowell Fellow, a Dramatist Guild Fellow and a founding member of the Asian American Composers and Lyricists Project.

My full length, Costs of Living, was a selection of the 2012 ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop hosted by Stephen Schwartz, the BMI 2012 Master Class hosted by Stephen Sondheim, a finalist for the 2012 American Harmony Prize and a nominee for the 2013 Weston Playhouse New Musical Award.  My newest piece, Peter and the Wall, was selected for the 2013 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat alongside pieces by Duncan Shiek (Spring Awakening), Heidi Rodewald and Stew (Passing Strange), and Adam Gwon (Ordinary Days)

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Faces of Asian America: Being a Goddess | #APAHM2014

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Kaya Kwan Yin is a Tantra Sacred Intimate Goddess.  She facilitates healing sessions that help women, men and couples with intimacy and trauma issues, work with chi, chakra healing, reiki, meditation, fitness, energy and body work.

How do you see yourself as a sex worker?

I AM a sex worker.  I acknowledge sex, relationships, and intimacy as part of my speciality areas but intercourse or ejaculation are not the current focus of a my practice as a professional Goddess, I can and do have all forms of erotic fun with clients if I feel like it adds to our session.  I joke that I no longer focus on Happy “Endings”, I focus on Happy “Durings” and beyond.  Sacred Intimacy is a form of sex work just like the other forms of sex work that I have done including stripping, massage, Domination and Escorting.

A sex worker is an umbrella term for folks that work in the sex industry which includes compensated hourly time with direct or indirect contact like fantasy creation or coaching.  These days for work, I barely have intercourse, I am more of a hands on life coach but I used to have intercourse for money so I’m not at all ashamed of it.

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Faces of Asian America: Being Disabled and Proud | #APAHM2014

Alice Wong is a proud disabled woman.

Alice Wong is a member of the Asian American disability rights advocacy community. To learn more about this community, check out my interview yesterday with Jean Lin of Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities Coalition.

How do you see yourself as Disabled and Proud?

I see myself as a proud disabled Asian-American woman. Note, I added the word ‘proud’ because I believe that there are many people who may have a disability (invisible or visible) who do not claim this identity at all.

Like the LGBTQ community and many other communities, being open about who you are sends a message that it’s not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Language matters. I used to use ‘person-first’ language when describing myself, (e.g., person with a disability), because it was a response to historic dehumanizing labels such as ‘the handicapped,’ ‘the disabled,’ and ‘the feeble-minded.’  There’s a growing usage of ‘disabled person’ by many people to indicate that one cannot separate one’s disability from one’s socio-cultural identity. It would be impossible to separate my race from my identity and shouldn’t it be the same for my disability?

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