Expanding the Archive

Last year, I spent the month of May highlighting Asian American archival collections. I found a lot of very, very cool material, but I also found some very, very large holes in the historical record. How can we study our history if we don’t preserve it? Luckily, the University of Illinois at Chicago is taking action to address some of the missing material– they’re currently in the process of building up an Asian American LGBTQ archive! I cannot stress enough how important it is to be proactive in preserving historical materials. Our lives, no matter who we are, are historical. We represent communities, movements and moments that will become history. And if we don’t value the records of our lives and times, it will be that much harder to recover. What can you do?


Read more about the project or contact UIC to donate materials (call (312) 413-7696 or email fugikawa@uic.edu or lthomson@uic.edu.)


Marriage Equality Update

I didn’t want to get bogged down in election recaps, despite being very, very happy with how my current state of Washington voted, and my patience has been rewarded. The Economist released a lovely map of not just the United States, but of the world:


Can someone overlay this map with a dominant religions around the world? I would like to see that. In the meantime, congratulations Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, and Maine.


I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving/National Day of Mourning/Black Friday/Red Friday/No Buy Friday.

Recognizing “Modern Families”? That’s Cool

 Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that she will instruct immigration agents to consider same-sex relationships the same as heterosexual ones in determining whether an individual should be deported, a victory for advocates and members of Congress who worried verbal instructions could be ignored.

Like the title says, that’s cool. I’m not going to get too congratulatory. Rather, I say, “Yeah, they are. Thanks for noticing.” But officially noting that same sex families are honest to goodness loving families (or have the potential to, just the same as hetero families are never perfect) is progress.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

This week, someone told me that Anderson Cooper came out to the entire world. And I said “Yeah, like three years ago!” Turns out it was just my imagination. In more surprising news, a young hip hop/r+b singer named Frank Ocean posted on his Tumblr about his first love/first heartbreak. Who was also a man.

To both these men, I say thank you, for for honesty when silence is the easy way out. Many of us modern Americans are jaded enough to wonder if celebrities choose when to come out, not to soften the blow, but to maximize their announcement’s publicity potential.

True, Frank Ocean has an album debuting soon. True, I have heard more buzz about his sexuality than his music. Still, I think he did a brave thing. Hip hop, rap, r+b, none of these genres are queer friendly. Ocean’s post isn’t a clear “I’m here and I’m queer!” pronouncement, but its far more than we’ve ever gotten from any of his musical peers. It’s not the beginning of a new world. Imagining this as the beginning of a hip-hop-coming-out-landslide is a bit far fetched. To expect him to be a more than an honest singer is unreasonable.

Still, it’s a pretty big f-ing deal. Hats off, Frank Ocean. Here’s your music video. Not the one from “Swim Well” where you’re in an orange robe that may or may not be a reference to monks’ saffron robes, swinging around a ninja sword. Not that one, because random Asia-philia is still circumspect. Here’s a different one:


A Summary of Some Very Gay Things

And by this we mean happy gay and queer gay and feeling gay to be gay. First, California’s Proposition 8, which overturned the legality of same sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional. What? California Ok’ed same sex marriage. Then the voters overturned it in a ballot proposition. Then, today, the federal appeals court overturned the proposition. Same sex marriage is one foot higher, although more battles are sure to come in protest of today’s ruling.

Second, still waiting on Washington State.

Third, have you seen “Five Tips for Queer Boys” by Yosimar Reyes, illustrated by Julio Salgado? This one is my favorite:

Now That’s Intersectionality

There are so many days and months dedicated to causes that I never catch them until the day is almost over and everyone is telling me about it on Facebook. Yesterday apparently, was National Coming Out Day. So I missed it, but people come out every day! Like people say when February is gone, “Black history happens all year round.”

I like this video because it’s about Asian American people coming out (or not) to their families, and the extra stress that often comes out of being queer and Asian American. Or, in some cases, Christian, queer, and Asian American. It can be a great combo when you’re comfortable in your own identity and have strong communities supporting you. Otherwise, it can feel really lonely. Via Color Lines: