Erin Chew 「Racism within the Australian LGBTIQ movement – Power, Politics & Games of Control Over Our Gay Asian Brothers」

Posted on May 25, 2016
Okay, so before I write this insightful and angry piece, I would like to openly disclose, that I have had many hours, days, weeks and months of consultation with my Asian brothers in understanding how to present this topic. My views are my perceptions and observations fueled by my anger and frustrations as to how our Asian brothers are treated within the broader gay movement in Australia.

As an Asian woman who is passionate and has pretty much dedicated her life to Asian activism and empowerment, I am disturbed by the belittling and the demoralisation which our gay Asian brothers go through within the mainstream gay movement. Every time I speak to my Asian brothers, I am continually told about the politics and the games of control that white gay men play to assert their dominance. As an Asian gay man, you are pretty much offered an ultimatum – either you assimilate to what gay white men tell you, or you become an outcast.

In Australia the main agencies which are Government funded for the LGBTIQ community are controlled by white Australians, and when you get to gay men agency, you will need to squint pretty hard to spot the Asian or a person of colour. It is as though there is an intentional shut out for gays of colour, because white knows best don’t they? And because most of the agencies are funded to talk about sexual health, that is pretty much all they do when engaging with our Asian brothers. There is no concern or intention in assisting Asian brothers who are still in the closet or are new to the scene to understand their identity and where they belong. They don’t understand sexual health also has other dimensions that is not necessarily sexual but will feed into that area. For example, when a young gay Asian feels worthless and unloved, with no attention they take unnecessary risks when asked to do unsafe sex. And the moment a guy (usually white) gives them some needed time and attention, the young Asian gay man will usually kowtow and will engage in risky behaviour. Family, community, identity are important and inter-related to gay Asians so much so that these factors play into their health needs. But according to these white gay agencies this is not a priority and they only care about is to tick a check list that they have fulfilled the minimum as per their Government funding. And the most interesting thing is, these agencies are extremely rich, but their budgets for any program regarding gay Asian men, is pretty small and dismal.

Now many of my Asian brothers are quite involved in social activism. They have been involved in advisory groups which are meant to do exactly that ADVISE.... however, from speaking to my brothers, a lot of decisions relating to gay Asian men are still being made by these culturally incompetent white gay men, and the concerns our Asian brothers raised are heard but ignored. Gay Asian men have been talking and voicing their concerns but no one listens, it is as though it has fallen on death ears. To add more salt to the wound, these controlling white men will put efforts to control any remnants of support networks, social media pages and groups built for our Asian brothers by our Asian brothers, because they feel the threat that maybe Asian gay men are empowered to speak up. So before they reach this point,the white gay agencies will intervene with subliminal power plays to ensure they have the intelligence to know what is going on. They exercise the colonial mindset and exert this control, as they know many Asian gays who grew up in Asia have been indoctrinated with the notion that white is best. And so those who do not resign to this point of view will be shunned and isolated, because they are just not listening to what the gay white men are dictating.

The other area which is controlled by gay white men, are the Australian gay media, particularly magazines. I googled “Gay Australian Models”, and all I got was pages of white men. Where are our Asian brothers? Where are our gay men of colour? Are they really that undesirable to the mainstream? Now Australian media is already pretty goddamn white, but holy shit, the gay media are even worse. I looked at the『DNA Magazine Australia』, and surprise surprise, it is all hot bodied white men. It seems that gay media feels white men sells but Asian or coloured men don’t. I found an interesting article on, who have written an article titled: 「Why Are『DNA Magazine』’s “Sexiest Men Alive” Predominately White?」 According to the article:

『DNA Magazine』, an Australian magazine for gay men, released their highly anticipated annual “Sexiest Men Alive” issue. The issue contains a list of 47 men, gay and straight, from various professional backgrounds including modeling, adult entertainment and acting. According to『DNA Magazine』, the sexiest men alive include Chris Hemsworth, One Direction and YouTube sensation Bryan Hawn. What’s missing from『DNA』’s extensive list? Men of color.

According to『DNA』’s list 80 percent of the sexiest men alive are white. Of the 47 men who made the list, 38 of them are white. The list included four Latino, two Asian, and two black men, as well as one of Indian decent. Although these men are of color, they have noticeably light skin. In addition, the list lacks trans men.

And to add more fuel to the fire, one of my Asian brothers attended a party where the Editor of『DNA』was also present. He confronted the editor and asked why no Asian men or men of colour were featured in the magazine. The editor responded that『DNA』understands his target market, and its a commercial decision that we have opted not to featured men of colour we featured a black model once and our sales dropped by 40% and they never did it again and he also said we feature other men too but not on the front page.

And just look at these other gay media sources –『SX News』and『Sydney Star Observer』– do I need to say anymore? But alas there is some hope, because as a result of this total whitewashing the『Archer Magazine』was established and wow, their front covers are all people of colour from the LGBTIQ movement. Finally, something refreshing! There is also a magazine called『A-Men』(created by my Asian brothers) to create a space for Asian gays to be seen, be visible and to strut their stuff and confidence.

So to end this rant/post/ angry writing – whatever you want to call it, I want to again leave a kind message to these gay white agencies and media: I implore you to please allow our Asian brothers to for once have a voice in the movement. And despite the fact that I am a straight Asian woman, my best friends and many of my fellow brothers are gay Asian men. I talk to them regularly, and they tell me about the injustice, inequality and the oppression all of the white gay men agencies bestow upon them. I just want to let you all know, I stand in solidarity with all my Asian brothers to ensure they are empowered and will voice their concerns and issues over your pure white assimilist agenda. I would encourage all of you gay white men to get some education on cultural competency. So......

If You Offend My Asian Brothers, You Offend Asians Everywhere!... and I mean it!

If you are interested in reading a previous article I wrote on 「Why do Gay WHITE Men say NO to Asian Men?

And if you want to read the article on 「Why Are『DNA Magazine』’s “Sexiest Men Alive” Predominately White?