Ken Takeuchi 「Queer&Asian」

Posted on April 25, 2009 commentaires
Director’s Statement
Having known I was gay while growing up in Japan in the ’70s, I was already aware that homosexuality was more accepted in the U.S. Idolizing White Hollywood stars like millions of queer Asians, I hatched my secret plan of becoming a foreign exchange student to the U.S., in search of my dream husband who was White, blonde, and blue.

Successfully convincing my parents, I was accepted into an exchange program in 1987. However, it was not going to be easy. First, the program enrolled me in a Catholic high school in Michigan, where I could absolutely not come out. Second, it was simply a torture being surrounded by beautiful White boys everyday. 4 years later, I finally came out to my college friends in Boston. But after a few bad relationships, I’ve fallen into a serious depression. I was struggling with not only my sexual identity, but also a racial one where I felt I could never be seen as attractive or desirable by White gay men.

When I discovered a peer-support organization, Boston Alliance of Gay & Lesbian Youth (BAGLY), I dived right into it. Listening to other queer youths of all colors sharing the same experience was not only enlightening, but also empowering. At BAGLY, it was also a tremendous shock and eye-opening experience when my best friend who was African American told me that being Asian in the U.S. meant I was considered “colored”. I was blind to my racial identity as an Asian, and had subconsciously erased my ethnic heritage in order to fit in and survive.

Upon graduation, I moved to New York where I found a job as an audio engineer in 1994. Although it was exciting and rewarding to live and work in NYC, my visa had expired and I was effectively stuck in the U.S. Adding to the stress of pressures at work, I was always in fear of being caught and deported. But living in NYC, I could also meet many other queer Asians and hear their stories of struggles. Slowly gaining my experience in video production, I was confident that I could someday document their stories and share our unique voice.

In 2000, my luck turned for the better. Thanks to the new provision of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, I was able to apply for adjustment of my status without leaving the country. After 5 years of intense paperwork, I finally received my permanent resident status in 2005. That’s when I began making a documentary on queer Asians in NYC.

In the years that followed, I’ve been volunteering as a steering committee member for Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY), one of the largest and most active queer Asian non-profit organizations in the U.S. Being on the cutting edge of social justice movement, I was not only able to gain understanding of complex layers of issues that queer Asians face in the U.S., but also meet people who are passionate about their cause.

The most important objective for this documentary is to ensure that our true stories and real voices are heard, in order to shed light upon the invisible community that is both thriving, yet most at risk. By following a day in a life of a gay Asian go-go dancer, the film will highlight the dangers of underground sex workers and their lack of HIV/AIDS awareness. By following queer South Asian immigrants, it will build a case on how the current U.S. immigration policy and Patriot Act continue to take away their civil rights. Weaving these personal stories with interviews from activists, experts and scholars in the field, the film will paint a clear picture of the gestalt of our collective lives in NYC, as well as why queer Asian community needs better understanding, visibility and support from general public. Now more than ever, it is imperative to raise our voices, where the issues of sexual minority intersect ethnic minority, so that queer Asians living in isolation can realize that it is beautiful to be queer and Asian.

Ken Takeuchi

Ken Takeuchi 「Queer&Asian」 Trailer - posted on April 25, 2009.

Author: Ken Takeuchi/Date: April 25, 2009/Source:
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Johannes Pong 「Boys on Film」

Posted on April 23, 2009 commentaires
Lu Yulai & Bernhard Bulling dans 「Soundless Windchime」

With local gay independent film 「Permanent Residence」 opening in theaters across town this week, Johannes Pong talks to three gay Hong Kong filmmakers about the state of queer cinema here.

Kit Hung
Hung’s first feature film 「Soundless Windchime」 is the first joint production between Switzerland and Hong Kong. The director is proud of the international reception so far received by the film, which has been lapped up by US and German filmgoers interested in the mixed-race relationships it portrays. But it took three years of asking around before anyone would originally give the film financial support. “Nobody wants to sponsor a director’s first feature production,” Hung laments. With such a low budget, Hung played the part of producer and director, not to mention babysitter and tour guide when filming on location in Switzerland.

Hung’s boyfriend is Swiss. They met on ICQ eight years ago and have been traveling between Asia and Europe ever since. Hung even became close to his boyfriend’d parents, although they shared no common tongue. “They spoke only German, so we communicated through body language, but the intimacy of our relationship cannot be described with speech.” So affected was Hung at their deaths that he turned to writing 「Soundless Windchime」 as a way of dealing with his grief. The film explores the concept of home while jumping through different times in the protagonist’s life, rather than following a linear time frame, an echo of the disjointedness Hung himself feels at times. “I feel different from my old friends, who have never left Hong Kong,” he says. “I was away in Chicago for five years, so SARS was in everyone’s collective memory but not mine.”

Now at 32, he finds gay activism in Hong Kong today rather impotent, perhaps because he was out and proud in the 90s, and as a 19-year-old, he was involved in queer politics and the local gay movement. His mentor was none other than media artist and queer activist Yau Ching, who was at the time an assistant professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design, where Hung studied. “She taught me everything I know about experimental video,” he says. From there, he went to the Chicago Art Institute for an MSA program, taking classes in multimedia and art history. It is the techniques he learned here that contribute to the artistic style of 「Soundless Windchime」.

「Soundless Windchime」 tells the story of a young mainland Chinese man whose Swiss lover in Hong Kong dies, whereupon he goes on a journey to Switzerland and meets another man with an all too familiar face.

Kit Hung 「Soundless Wind Chime」 Official Trailer - TLA Releasing - posted on April 23, 2010.

Scud has had many names throughout his life. Originally known as Ivan, before switching to Danny during his career in I.T, he eventually settled on “Scud,” a play on his Chinese name, which means “Soaring Cloud.” Born during the Cultural Revolution to a once-prominent Chinese family, Scud was raised by his grandmother whom he adored before moving to Hong Kong with his parents. As a teenager, he read in a newspaper the three Chinese words “same sex love,” and came to the realization that he was homosexual. “I felt lucky, special, actually, that I was kind of different.” Poverty-stricken, the young Scud was burdened with the task of supporting his family and upholding the family name, which he did, studying laboriously for 30 years. Only when his grandmother passed away did he feel that he could not live without fulfilling his own dreams, and in 2001, at 35 years of age, he moved to Australia for a bit of soul-searching. He then returned to Hong Kong and started Artwalker, an indie film company, and wrote and directed his first film, “City without Baseball,” a semi-documentary about Hong Kong’s baseball team, which garnered rave reviews from critics and become a cult classic.

His new film 「Permanent Residence」 is also part fiction, part non-fiction, with more than just a bit of his own life thrown in. Yet he reveals that the more dramatic elements from his real life had been toned down in the film to give them a sense of honesty. The director says that filming 「Permanent Residence」 saved his life. “If I didn’t make this film, I wouldn’t be here talking to you now, seriously.”

Although thankful for the women in his life, whom the filmmaker says have always taken care of him, he clearly appreciates the beauty of physical masculinity. 「Permanent Residence」 could easily have the most nudity of any Chinese film. Scud says he tricked the actors into stripping, and stripped himself for the photographic stills in a souvenir album. He openly confesses that it was a promotional stunt that satisfied his exhibitionist tendencies. “I’m 42 years old; I might as well strip naked now before I get any older.”

「Permanent Residence」 is the story of a man who passionately in love with an unavailable straight guy. It’s a tale every gay man can relate to.

Scud 「Permanent Residence」 Official Trailer - posted on February 10, 2011.

Simon Chung
Simon Chung was 10 when he moved to a small town in Canada and began to pay more attention to old, classic movies. When he watched Ingmar Bergman’s 「Persona」,” he realized that cinema wasn’t just about telling stories; it could also be a great medium to explore philosophical issues. Unlike Scud and Kit’s semi-autobiographical love stories interwoven with life and death, 「The End of Love」 explores two touchy topics in the gay community: drugs and prostitution. “I was inspired by a friend who worked as a prostitute part-time. I thought it was very interesting, how he balanced his freelance hustling and the relationship with his boyfriend,” says Chung. “I wanted to explore the concept of love, not just the ‘romantic’ version for heterosexual or homosexual couples, but you know, the love between a mother and son, between friends, and also the flipside of love, which is obsession and control.”

A lot of his own gay friends thought that his portrayal of the Hong Kong gay scene was just too dark and negative. “Of course it’s not representative of the whole scene, but as an indie filmmaker, I should have more opportunities to explore a minority’s point of view. I just wanted to show that side of society that people don’t want to acknowledge is there.”

Chung shies away from using gay actors in his films. “Homosexual actors might find the role too negative, or too sensitive, too personal,” he says. “As for straight actors, once they get over the kissing a man part, they’re usually fine with it and they have less baggage, than, say a gay actor, who might be thinking, am I misrepresenting? Am I being too sissy or too butch?” As a result, Chung finds straight actors end up more convinving in gay roles than gay actors.

For his next project, Chung is determined to move away from gay cinema. “I want to touch on more political and social themes.”

「End of Love」 (2008) is about a young gay man whose mother commits suicide after she learns of his homosexuality. The man turns to drugs to dull his pain, and soon begins to sell his body for cash. He’s sent to rehab where he meets a heroin addict, and they form a dangerous relationship.

Simon Chung 「End of Love」 (Trailer) - posted on March 12, 2010.

Author: Johannes Pong/Date: April 23, 2009/Source:
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「Being gay and Asian in America」

Posted on April 12, 2009 commentaires
What is “Gay” and “Asian”?

America has traditionally been called as the Melting Pot, where all kinds of people come for the hope of success, and subsequently these people contribute to diversity. However, the diversity can and has caused instability in this nation at the same time, because of tension among people with different identities. This tension is still causing distress to many of us who face racial and sexual prejudices on a regular basis.

This blog specifically caters to those who identify as both “gay” and “Asian” and who want to learn more about the relevant issues. This is not because the author intends to discriminate lesbians nor other races, but rather because this is the topic the author can best handle, as someone who identifies with these identities.

The “Asian” identity
The first and most important question would be: what is this “Asian” identity ? We come from different cultural backgrounds, even within a same ethnic group. Some Asian people are third-generation Chinese Americans who have resided in the SF bay area for almost hundred years. Some other Asian people just migrated from South Korea in their teens, because their parents decided that America is better for their education. Some are scholastic, and some are athletic. Some are adopted to white parents, and are identified as “banana” - yellow/Asian outside, white inside — by other Asians. Some want to maintain their authentic culture inherited from their ancestors.

Nonetheless, the identity is not just based on self-identification, but also on identification in the eyes of other people. Many times, identification in the eyes of the others outweigh self-identification. Therefore, in the eyes of the others, we are all classified into one “Asian” ethnic group. And this is created not only because of the white men’s gaze but also the gaze of other Asians on ourselves, and sometimes our own internalized stereotypes on our Asianness: what Asian men should be like.

Gay-Asian or Asian-gay?
While we cannot escape the “Asian” identity that is cast upon us by society, different people embrace their dual minority identities in different ways. The most important difference would be how people prioritize their dual minority identites. Here I want to draw an analogy to J.T. Sears in the article “Black-gay or gay-Black? Choosing identities and Identifying Choices.” For those who identify both as “gay” and “asian”, their priority can vary widely. Some of us have a very strong bond to the extended family-like network within the Asian community and think their sexuality merely pertains to who they choose to date. Some others consider their sexuality more important than their bonding to the Asian heritage. These differences are highlighted because this shows non homogeneity of gay/Asian dual identity.

Takagi, D. Y. (1996). 「Maiden Voyage: Excursion into Sexuality and Identity Politics in Asian America」. In R. Leong (Ed.) 「Asian American Sexualities. (pp. 21-36). New York: Routledge.
Sears, J. T. (1995). 「Black-gay or gay-Black? Choosing identities and Identifying Choices」. In G. Unks (Ed.) 「The gay teen: Educational practice and theory for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents」. (pp. 135-157). New York: Routledge.

Gay Asian Masculinity

“We have free penis enlargement pills to give out ... nobody wants them? Any Asian man here? you know you need some!” — An unidentified host for porn company Raging Stallion Studios booth in 2006 S.F. civic center fair.

The ideal male sexuality in American society is described as a right amount of “masculinity”. This ideal masculinity oftentimes means a tall white muscular man with a big penis. In his article 「Looking for My Penis」, Richard Fung points out that Asian men are typecast into effeminacy, while Black men are typecast into hyper-masculinity. In this spectrum, the White male masculinity is assumed as the ideal amount of masculinity. Therefore, all Asian men are assumed to have a small penis, which can not threaten the white male masculinity. His article was written in 1996, but as seen in the quote above, the prejudice still prevails and surfaces itself freely in public sphere.

“Here we have an Asian boy with a small penis. He needs a well-endowed top who will show him a good time in bed tonight.” — An unidentified drag show host in 2008 in Raleigh, N.C.*

*The quote was modified and paraphrased to delete vulgar language.

What is the worth of a gay man who has a penis that cannot dominate another man by penile domination? To take a receptive role in anal sex would be the answer. Within this logic, all Asian men are therefore assumed to be the receptive role, regardless of their actual preferences.

Pretty depressing, isn’t it?

However, the efforts to break down the stereotype are slowly but surely changing the perception of the public. One of the most prominent efforts will be the annual calendar named 「Asian Men Redefined」.

Started in San Francisco in 2006, the calendar’s website claims that “It is time for Asian Men to strut their hot stuff and show the world that Asian Men are BOLDER, SMARTER, and SEXIER than ever before.”

Also featuring of masculine Asian male characters on television shows, such as 「Lost」, has presented a possibility of masculine gay Asian man to the nationwide TV audience. Yet, the battle is hardly won. Standing up against the stereotype is the only way to break down the stereotype that still exists in our society.

「Asian Men Redefined」. (2006 - 2009). retrieved from April 12, 2009.
Fung, R. (1996). 「Looking for My Penis: The Eroticitized Asian in Gay Video Porn」. In R. Leong (Ed.) 「Asian American Sexualities」. (pp. 21-36). New York: Routledge.
Nguyen, H. (2006). 「Reflections on an Asian Bottom: Gay Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation」. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association . 2009-02-04 from

Dating and Mating

“Like the stereotypical Asian, I prefer to date Caucasian men.” — a 25-year-old Asian American man quoted in Tsang’s article

Men who identify with gay and Asian identities in America face a different, if not more difficult, challenge in dating and mating than those with gay and White do. Ethnicity plays an important role in intercultural dating and mating, oftentimes creating emotional distress.

“Ethnicity: caucAsian”
In 1996, D. C. Tsang wrote an article 「Notes on Queer ‘N’ Asian Virtual Sex」. The article describes an on-line gay Bulletin board, which catered to men of all races. He mentions an interesting case where one Taiwanese American man changed his ethnicity in his profile to White on a whim and suddenly found himself tremendously more desired by other gay men on the board, with everything else on the profile being the same.

This phenomenon can be explained if we consider that the criteria of masculinity in our society are set to that of White men, and therefore White men in the dating and mating competition are considered more desirable.

In this environment, certain gay men feel like they are “Accidental[ly] Asians” — they claim that they are gay men who only happen to be Asian (Yoshino, 2006). This is somewhat similar to gay-Asian/Asian-gay difference; which identity is more important? (Refer to 「What is “gay” and “Asian”?」 section) They claim that they have no difference in their mannerism from the mainstream white people, other than their skin color. So why should they care about their ethnicity?

Ironically, these gay Asian men’s claim about their conformity proves that the topic of ethnicity is unavoidable. As they said, they are part of the white mainstream culture. However, they are not treated so in the realm of dating and mating. If they were, they would not have had to reclaim their conformity. Although blatant racism in this country has decreased over time, no matter how hard they try to “pass” as part of the white mainstream, they are not.

On the other hand, there are white men who are predominantly attracted to Asian men: they are called Rice Queens. Tsang quotes a short-lived print newsletter, Daisuki-Men, on the reason why these white men have a strong attraction to Asian men.

  1. China Doll syndrome (i.e., Asian males are seen as feminine)
  2. perception that Asians are submissive;
  3. and the rice queens’ obsession with [all] things Asian

Richard Fung argues in his article 「Looking for My Penis」 that, even when certain rice queens seek out masculine Asian men, they find them attractive because of the rice queens’ obsession with Asian things. Fun claims that these rice queens are fantasizing about the Asian martial arts masters when they seek out for masculine Asian men.

However, Fung’s article and Tsang’s article were published in 1996. Do these assumptions still hold true in 2009? Unfortunately, the old habits die hard, and as can be seen from the section 「Gay Asian Masculinity」, the only way for the situation in dating and mating for men who identify as gay and Asian is to stand against various stereotypes that are set on Asian men. Until then, the therapists need to understand the degree of distress which these prejudices cause to men who identify as gay and Asian.

Asian man and another Asian man, problem solved?
Then, when two Asian men date each other, do all the issues in dating and mating suddenly go away? That is not the case. The term “Asian” covers many countries in the Asian continent. Northeast Asians — Chinese, Korean, Japanese people — are drastically different from Southeast Asians — Filipinos, Vietnamese and Laotians, let alone Indians who are occasionally included in the broad “Asian” people. Further, Each country has a very unique culture. For example, a Korean Asian man and a Japanese Asian man might still experience ethnic and cultural differences that can cause emotional distress.

Tsang, D. C. (1996). 「Notes on Queer ‘N’ Asian Virtual Sex」. In R. Leong (Ed.) 「Asian American Sexualities」. (pp. 21-36). New York: Routledge.
Yoshino, K. (2006). 「Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights」. New York: Random House.
Fung, R. (1991). 「Looking for My Penis: The Eroticitized Asian in Gay Video Porn」. In R. Leong (Ed.) 「Asian American Sexualities」. (pp. 21-36). New York: Routledge.

Coming Out to Family

For someone who identifies with both gay and Asian identities, coming out to his family can be a very stressful thing. Asian American families tend to stand on the liberal side of the political spectrum, but their family-oriented ideologies are centered around heterosexual families. Asian families tend to put a great amount of expectations on their son, and this high expectation oftentimes means to get married to a woman and have a family of their own — with biological children.

The stressful situation goes the other way as well; for the parents and other family members, finding out that their child and sibling is gay can be a very stressful thing. His family has to go through the process of dealing with their internalized homophobia and their prejudices toward LGBT people, in addition to homophobia in our society (Hom, 1996).

... Mommy thinks everybody [is] a little bit gay. You have a friend, and you like your friend so much you don’t know what to do. It’s kind of gay ... especially in college, it’s a very gay time. So many gays in college, You know, daddy had a friend like that. I will tell you a gay story about your daddy [when he was in Korea] ... — Margaret Cho on her mother and father

Many first-generation Asian Americans have a prior knowledge on homosexuality which they acquired before they came to the United States. They are, however, not as used to the idea of open homosexuality in society as most white families have come to be. This is mostly because of the amount of exposure the white families had beforehand since 1960’s sexual liberation movement.

Another important factor is that Asian families tend to save up financial resources for college education of their children. This means that the independence of the gay Asian man oftentimes comes later than most white gay men. Also, the interdependence among the relatives in Asian American families sometimes means that the parents and siblings are more sensitive to the criticisms of the family relatives, and therefore the family also has to deal with the prejudices which their relatives express.

The most important thing to remember is that finding a right time to come out is completely up to the person who wants to express and share his sexuality with his family. If he thinks he or his family is not ready for the coming out, then it will be better if the coming out process is postponed until the right time surfaces, whether it be a time of his financial independence or the family members’ change in attitude toward homosexuality.

Hom, A. Y. (1996). 「Stories from the Homefront: Perspectives of Asian American Parents with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons」. In R. Leong (Ed.) 「Asian American Sexualities」. (pp. 37-50). New York: Routledge.

Clinical Approach

APA’s guideline to counsel LGBT clients include the following statement;

Guideline 9. Psychologists are encouraged to recognize the particular life issues or challenges experienced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of racial and ethnic minorities that are related to multiple and often conflicting cultural norms, values, and beliefs (American Psychological Association, 2009).

However, simple recognition of the life issues and challenged experienced by people with multiple minorities is not sufficient to provide a clinical help to the clients when the therapists have no background knowledge on what other men who identify as gay and Asian go through in this country. In this blog, I have discussed about the dual identity issues. gay Asian men’s masculinity issues. dating and mating. and coming out to family issues. The common factor that affects all these issues is the marginalized status of men who identify as gay and Asian, who are discriminated from other Asian Americans for being gay and from the LGBT community for being Asian.

Narrative Therapy to Understand
In this situation, a narrative therapy is always a good idea to know better about what the client has experienced as a man who identifies as both gay and Asian. As shown in the section 「What is “gay” and “Asian”?」 each person identifies with their dual minority identities in a different way, because his life story inevitably differs from that of others. Although I talked about gay Asian masculinity, not all gay/Asian men want to be masculine, nor not all gay/Asian men want to date white/gay men. Listening to his life story is the way to understanding where he is coming from.

Finding the Support
Of course, there is no way that therapists can have a perfect knowledge for every single minority’s issues. However, they can provide the clients with resources where the clients can find information they need. Unless the client is in a major metropolitan area with a big Asian American population, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta or New York city, it is difficult to find a local support group for men who identify as both gay and Asian. We are, however, blessed in a time of the Internet, and providing internet resources to your client can help them reassured that they are not alone, and there has been decades of research done on men who identify as both gay and Asian in America.

American Psychological Association. (2009). 「Guidelines for Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Clients」. 2009-01-08. from retrieved on 2009-04-15

Further Information
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center: Gay Men:
Asian Pacific Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays:
Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York:
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance in San Francisco:
Gay Asian Pacific Support Network in Los Angeles:
Human Rights Campain Website: Asian Pacific Americans:

Author: Bobby/Date: April 12, 2009/Source:
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Jason Tseng 「Fried Rice: A Failed Attempt at Subverting Sexual Racism」

Posted on April 09, 2009 commentaires
Fried Rice: A Failed Attempt at Subverting Sexual Racism; pt. I

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. The standard pejoratives come to mind: faggot, Cocksucker, Chink... Commie chink. Although I took that last one more of a compliment, than anything else. But easily the most painful name came not from the homophobic jock or the drunken frat boy... It came from a lover.

It came tangled between bed sheets; heads buzzing with the freedom afforded by alcohol, he whispered softly in my ear, “You’re perfect. My perfect little geisha boy.” To this day, those words, which I’m sure were intended to make me feel treasured and beautiful, continue to haunt me.

Now, I have had my fair share of racially skewed relationships. In fact every substantial romantic relationship I’ve had has been with a rice queen. I had grown accustomed to questions asking where I’m from. Seeing their confused faces after I tell them “Washington D.C.,” I have learned to always qualify this with “but my family is from China.” I see their disappointment in learning that I don’t speak my “native tongue,” or that I have never been “back.”

I had even become desensitized to the inane guessing games they would employ to infer my ethnicity. “Yeah, I get Korean a lot. It’s my face,” is my rote response.

I found myself feeling less like a person and more of an idea; an amalgam of expectations; a blur of tawny skin and slanted eyes. I had gotten to the point where when I walk into a bar, I immediately gauged myself against the other Asians in the room, because I know it is by this criteria on which I will be judged. They are not my friends, my comrades, my brothers in arms. They are my competition. They are the enemy.

At once I am caught in a vice of being required to captivate my prospects with my overt displays of ethnicity, yet cut off from those whom share this oppressive experience. Unable to form alliances for fear of cannibalizing our market, we are divided and conquered by the inevitability of economics.

I eventually reached an impasse; the proverbial back-breaking straw where I realized that I could no longer live in this colonial schema of rice queen and exotic object of affection. But in all of my personal and romantic experience, men who like Asian guys but are not rice queens either did not exist, or required too much vetting to be viable romantic prospects.

I realized a fundamental flaw in my equation: if we, gay Asians, continued to entrust gay white men with the keys to our eventual happiness, they would inevitably fail us. They are born into a culture in which systemic racism encourages widespread subjugation of nonwhite people.* Of course there are a select few who are able to resist this pervasive culture of appropriation and wholesale theft. But attempting to seek these individuals out, using our hearts as collateral, is simply too costly. I reasoned that the only truly revolutionary thing to do was to renounce the world of rice queens and go sticky rice. What a novel thought, gaysians dating gaysians.

I would renounce the code of beauty which casts us as undesirable, small-dicked, pansy geishas, incapable of fucking or owning our agency. Rather I would seek to escape the fundamentally imbalanced politic of inter-racial relationships, and find happiness in a world free from racial power disparity: with those of my own race.

to be continued...

*NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This post has been edited from its original form in response to the dynamic and spirited debate that has been drawn out from the Bilerico community. If you would like to read the original text, feel free to find it at, which has retained the original text as a historical record.
(Crossposted to

Fried Rice: A Failed Attempt at Subverting Sexual Racism, pt. 2

Editors’ note: Part 1 in Jason Tseng’s series on racism and dating was posted in April.

It is New Year’s Eve in New York City, and “new” is definitely the word du jour. It’s a night of many firsts: My first New Year’s in the City; my first New Year’s with friends and not family; my first New Year’s drunk. My roommate has dragged me to a party being thrown by his rich boyfriend and his equal parts loud, drunk, and obnoxious friends. The Bridge and Tunnel crowd pack the SoHo brownstone to the brim as they clamor for more alcohol at the open bar. Not even the disdainfully privileged surroundings of Yuppie excess could quell this feeling of anticipation and excitement at the prospect of a new year, a page turned, a fresh slate. As I said my farewells to 2008, I bade adieu to the Bush Administration, to my life as a student, to unemployment, and... to the last link in my long chain of relationships with Rice Queens.

2009 promised to be a year full of opportunity, driven by my personal mandate to initiate the Sticky Revolution: an act of radical anti-racism by rejecting colonialism and supporting my community of fellow Gay Asian men through deliberate valorization of a de-valued and disenfranchised group. Asians dating Asians – the quintessential “f- you” to Euro-centric beauty standards and fetishists. We don’t need your validation, mainstream gay culture. We are a self-sustaining nation of queer Asian fierceness! And we don’t need nor want your approval.

Filled with the vigor imbued by my quest for racial justice, I set out to find my partner-in-crime, my brother-in-arms, my comrade, my fellow radical queer Asian freedom fighter. I ditch the SoHo party and made my way to one of my regular haunts, a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Into the mouth of the lions’ den, I thought to myself as I flashed my ID to the bouncer. Not five minutes into wading through this very standard gay bar for the young, the white, and the restless, I found myself deflecting the attention of two bar regulars. White, skinny, and pretty; the pair always seems to be there when I show up. Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum always insist on greeting me with a high pitched “Clarence!” Clarence, I eventually discovered, is their Asian roommate to whom I allegedly bear a resemblance. Clearly, we are the same person, interchangeable, and therefore it is completely acceptable to call us by the same name.

Undeterred, I made my way to the dance floor. Sweaty and numbingly loud, I started moving to the music, trying to lose myself in it. Having devoted a good portion of my college career to dance, I have always viewed the act as a profoundly cathartic experience. What better place to excise my past self than the heart of the malfeasance? Then, like some cheesy scene in one of those insufferable dance flicks, our eyes meet through the crowd.

He is tall, handsome, and Asian. With a strange sense of fate, the crowd parts allowing us to meet. No words are spoken at first, we just dance. (Yes, I am aware of how corny this is... stay with me, I promise it’s worth it.) I eventually get his name (Tim), and his number. We dance for a while before parting. I leave the bar that night filled with pride. I have taken the first steps in my Sticky Revolution.

Fast forward a month, and Tim and I have been dating for a few weeks. He’s a former soldier, Filipino-American from Upstate New York. He grew up and army brat and followed in his father’s footsteps in joining the army. He served for several years in Korea and elsewhere before receiving an injury which disqualified him from service. Discharged honorably, he found himself in New York City, sleeping on a friend’s couch and trying to make ends meet with a job bar bussing. He’s funny, refreshingly different from me, and on top of it all, he’s quite the looker. Almost too good-looking. I don’t believe my luck! I’m by no means top-tier in the looks department, so bagging the hot Asian-American army-vet-turned-artist seems all too perfect. My Sticky Revolution had started off without a hitch! Or so I thought...

It’s late and we’re on one of our usual dates: a bar crawl. He likes to dance and easily becomes bored, so I constantly find myself hopping from one club to the next, in pursuit of that increasingly evasive good vibe. The date hasn’t gone particularly well. It’s the first time we’ve gone out with my friends, and he’s been distant all night. Disappearing for ten, fifteen minutes at a time, chatting up other guys in front of me, acting very dismissive of my presence; I’m taken aback by the change in his character. My friend who joined us earlier in the night informs me that he’s trying to make me jealous and want him more: ensuring that I know that being with him is a privilege, not a right. I’m in a sour mood and he can tell. As we sit in the cab on the way to our next destination he asks me a question on a topic I have been dreading: race.

“So, what kind of guys do you usually go for?” comes the thinly veiled inquisition on my racial preferences. Heck, I’ve used that line when I try and sniff out fetishists. Isn’t it enough that I’m clearly into you?! I think to myself.

“Oh, you know... I don’t know, I don’t really have a type. It’s more about a guy’s personality that I’m attracted to.” I respond, attempting to dodge the question.

He presses further, “No, but you’ve gotta have a type. Tell me about your exes. I don’t know anything about them.”

Who is this guy? Exes are the last thing I want to be talking about. “Well...” I pause, considering how to bring up my problematic dating history, “My type is kind of all over the place. I’ve dated a lot of different kinds of guys.” I can tell by the look in his eyes this is an unsatisfactory answer, “I used to date a lot of rice queens, but I’m kind of done with white guys for now.”

As the words leave my mouth, I want to stuff them back inside.

“Oh, so is that what this is about?” He asks almost with a snicker, as if he knows that he’s caught me in some kind of trap. “Are you just going to go back to white guys after you’re done with me?”

I can hardly believe this is happening. The same paranoia I felt when dating white men, was being aimed squarely back at me. What could I say? In some way, yes, I sought out Tim because of his race. It proved to be an important quality in my search for a relationship free from racial tension and power imbalance. I had never been with an Asian guy, and it was an experience I had avoided for too long. I have always viewed having a healthy attraction to Asian men was a way for me to personally find beauty in myself; but it was far from the most defining part of his identity I was attracted to. I thought that I was doing something good: radically resisting a racist society by celebrating what the hegemonic culture discards and abhors. But with the tables suddenly turned, had I become everything that drove me to this point?

Moreover, is this part of the self-hatred that has been ingrained in our Asian American minds? The idea of dating another Asian guy seems to require some cognitive leap, some justification, for seeking out a relationship with an Asian man. Do white people have this dilemma when approached with prospective partner of the same race? Do white people question whether their white partner’s desires for them is motivated by race?

This would be the last time I would see Tim. To this day I wonder what spurred his comments. I had never mentioned his race while we dated. Nor had I discussed my personal divorce from the colonial schema of the rice queen. Was he responding to some unspoken offense I had committed? Had he dated Asian men before me? Was this uncharted territory for him as well? I can’t help but wonder if perhaps we were both more alike than either of us realized. Driven apart by our mutual suspicions.

to be continued...?

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Jason Tseng
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