Faces of Asian America: Being A Roller Derby Rockstar | #APAHM2014

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Thu Ngo is a former roller derbyist who goes by the name Viva Glam. Since the writing of this post, she has retired from active skating due to a knee injury but still actively volunteers for her league.

What is Viva Glam?

My name is Thu, but when I strap on my skates, I’m known as Viva Glam. I’m a derby girl – I play women’s flat-track roller derby.

Unlike the roller derby of the 70’s, there is no elbowing, tripping, or fighting – modern-day roller derby is full-contact and it is the real deal; the women who play it are true athletes. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world right now, but derby is still considered underground/alt, and we constantly fight to be seen as a legitimate sport. We do everything ourselves: skaters not only train intensely to compete in bouts, but they also take care of the business of running their leagues, handling finances, publicity, sponsorship, and recruitment themselves, in addition to whatever their lives entail outside of the sport (school, career, children, etc). We don’t get paid for it either – everyone involved in derby, from the skaters to the referees to the non-skating officials, is there out of love for the sport and the community.

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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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Faces of Asian America: Being Bald and Bold | #APAHM2014

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Traci Lee is a producer at MSNBC, and was diagnosed with alopecia — a condition that results in hair loss — as a child.

How do you see yourself as a person with alopecia?

I spent a lot of my life avoiding mirrors. When I first began losing my hair at the age of seven, I thought pretending the problem didn’t exist would make it disappear altogether—or, at least, it would slow down the inevitable process of losing everything. As the hair on my head disappeared in patches, so did my eyebrows and eyelashes, and it became too hard to see anything in my reflection except for what was missing.

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Are you #AAPI and awesome? 2nd Call for Submissions for Faces of Asian America! | #AAPIHeritageMonth

Last month, I called for submissions for my “Faces of Asian America” blog series for next month’s Asian American Heritage Month: I’m looking to profile unique and awesome Asian Americans in daily blog posts.

I got a great response for my first call, but I’d still like to get a few more unique perspectives on the Asian American experience. To that end, I am looking for more submissions for “Faces of Asian America”, particularly if you are Asian American and…:

  • A member of the LGBTQ community
  • Religious or atheist
  • An artist of any kind — dancer, author, comic book artist, playwright, actor, etc
  • A lifter or bodybuilder
  • A survivor of a chronic illness (cancer, depression, etc)
  • Anything else that you think might be of interest to readers!

If you or someone you know might be of interest, please tweet me @Reappropriate or email me at jenn [at ]reappropriate [dot] co