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.
Over this past week, I’ve been covering the New York Democratic primary, where three Asian American men — Tim Wu, John Liu and SJ Jung — were vying for the party’s nomination for Lt. Governor and various State Senate seats respectively.
Last week, I wrote about Lt. Governor candidate Tim Wu, an unconventional and anti-establishmentarian progressive best known for coining the term “net neutrality” who was campaigning as independent gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout’s running-mate on a platform of stopping the proposed billion dollar merger between Comcast and Time Warner cable, and other digital rights issues. Disregarded as a longshot candidate for most of the summer, Wu’s campaign gained sudden and significant momentum in the days leading up to yesterday’s primary vote, leading some to suggest that Wu might either win the party’s Democratic nomination outright or replace his mainline Democrat opponent — Kathy Hochul — on the Cuomo ticket; either scenario would have made Timothy Wu a near shoo-in as the first Asian American to hold elected state-wide office in New York.
In the midst of his sudden publicity, Wu publicly endorsed a cadre of Asian American Democratic underdogs — terming the three of them a “band of brothers” — last Tuesday: career politician John Liu and political newcomer SJ Jung, both running to unseat incumbent (White) Democrats in the State Senate.
Late last week, I wrote about New York Lt. Governor candidate Tim Wu’s endorsement of State Senator hopeful John Liu’s campaign. Both men are Taiwanese American politicians; in his endorsement, Wu called Liu and another Asian American State Senate candidate, SJ Jung, Asian American “underdogs” and a “band of brothers”. Wu cited the persistent underrepresentation of Asian Americans in New York’s political leadership in saying, “We could use a stronger Asian-American voice in the legislature.”
Liu responded with a scathing and abrupt rejection of Wu’s endorsement, saying,
This story had me equal parts baffled and titillated: one Asian American politician publicly slapping away the hand of another?
What could possibly cause John Liu, a man who at one time championed stronger Asian American voices within elected office, to eschew the support of a fellow Asian American “brother”? Why haven’t Asian American political representatives come out in support (even begrudging support) for Tim Wu, a man with a legitimate shot at being New York’s first Asian American elected to statewide office?
What the heck?!?