Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Diversity Lesson 101: LGBTQ Asians

The Other People of Color

Asians are considered racial minorities, but there is very little effort to include their people, customs, and or specific issues within the context of LGBT organizations. They are overshadowed by other races and rarely taken into account.

In a survey taken among LGBTQ Asians it was discovered that...

"Nearly every respondent (98 percent) had experienced at least one form of discrimination and/or harassment in their lives.

Nearly all respondents (89 percent) agreed that homophobia and/or transphobia are problems within the broader API community.

78 percent of respondents agreed that API LGBT people experience racism within the predominantly white LGBT community.

Only 50 percent of respondents said that English was their native language. Yet nearly all LGBT informational and advocacy materials are produced in English." (Asian Nation).

Queer Asians are typically caught in a crossroads facing lack of acceptance from the broader heterosexual Asian community, while also struggling for understanding and acknowledgment from within the white dominated queer community.

Westernized Stereotypical Thinking of Asian Sexuality:

Many people perceive Asian women to be soft, delicate, thin, and submissive in nature. They are thought to be sex-objects for the lust of others. To the contrary many Asian men are thought to be devoid of any sexuality, they often go unaccounted for under the false stereotype that Asian men have a smaller penis size. Asian men are either discounted or considered "exotic" and are also objectified. These stereotypes about Asian sex and sexuality play into both the straight and gay communities and are wrong and serve as a misrepresentation of the wide spectrum of people who are Asian.

Offensive Terminology:

Rice Queen - A term for older white gay men attracted to Asians, assumed to be desperate and fetishizing Asians.

Potato Queen - Gay Asian men who date older rich white males.

Sticky Rice - Two Asians who are a couple, they are stereotyped as being obsessed with all things Asian and only sticking with one another.

Panda Hugger - A gay male who prefers Asian men.

The Asian Asexual Dilemna:

Eastern cultures tend to be very quiet about sexuality in general which creates a problem for all sexual minorities. In particular within Asian families is a strong sense of family structure and desire to carry on the legacy of the family. An Asian who is asexual likely faces more challenges if they choose either not to reproduce or to settle down with a partner altogether. There is even a joking yet offensive facebook group called Asians Against Asexuality.

The Transgender/Intersex Asian Experience:

The Eastern world has a long history of embracing transgender behavior as well as people who have ambigious genitalia, and many cultures regard trans people and intersex people as "third gendered" and they hold their place in society. In recent decades with Western ideology influencing Asian nations, there has been increased discrimination and misunderstanding directed towards trans people. Places like Thailand are considered the transsexual haven of the world, but even there recently a battle was waged to overturn a blood ban on queer men.

While it is quite possible that transgender and intersex identity is more prevalent within the Asian world, this group goes unaccounted for and has very little research and/or resources available as they pertain to trans Asians.

LGBTQ Asian Links:

API Equality

Transgender Asia Research Centre

Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance

Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team

Utopia ASIA

Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride

National Queer Asian Pacific Alliance

Queer Asian Resources

Queer Asian Videos


Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing queer Asian issues to our attention! A good friend of my is a lesbian Asian and she has a hard time, dealing with double discrimination.

Queers United said...

genderkid - cool, please feel free to share the link with your friend, maybe she can provide her story and perspective.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I (I'm white, he's Asian) moved to L.A. three years ago and immediately joined the local chapter of APGF (Asian/Pacific Gays and Friends). We belonged to this group in our old city as well. We work very hard on the issues that you describe. I don't officially speak for this group, but it is (or can be) a very good resource for gay Asians.

Queers United said...

Anonymous - I am really happy to hear you and your partner are tackling these issues, it is a double fight within both communities. The last video I posted is more of the type of activism I hope to see from all queer people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this article, being of mixed Asian/white heritage myself I have a special appreciation for this article. My mixed heritage tends to give me a Hispanic look to others, who tend think its cute and sexy, until I say I'm Filipino, then all of a sudden they are not interested. What do you think about this site? Its supposed to help out a good cause, but I still they portray some of the Asian men as twinkish.

Anonymous said...

Glad you posted this but frankly have mixed feelings about it. While I can only speak for myself (I am white), and my partner (who is asian), we really don't find the terms "rice" and "potato" queen particularly offensive (panda lover? that's a new one for me). Sure they are not ideal terminology for describing a sexual preference, but they don't even come close to "faggot" or the "n" word in terms of offensiveness.

I didn't choose my partner because he is soft or exotic or because he fulfills some fetish. He didn't choose me because I am old and have a large IRA (I'm middle-aged with a very small IRA actually). We are together because we are compatible physically and emotionally and he is the love of my life. Yes I have a preference for asian men, and yes he has a preference for white men.

I guess what bothers me most is this prevailing attitude as described in one of the clips that asian men must have some self-hate or self-worth issues in order to be attracted to white men instead of their own ethnicity, and that as a white man I am some how taking advantage of it. I know my partner takes great offense to that notion, as do I, and he is not active in certain asian LGBT groups because of it.

I'm sure I'll be flamed as being a typical white man and how could I possibly understand. Sure there is discrimination in the LGBT community. I've been discriminated against for being a bit larger than the average guy. But no. I can't relate it all. Not one bit.

I guess I'd rather expend energy helping my mixed couple friends stay together, and not have their relationships split apart by an immigration policy that fails to recognize the validity of their union. To me that's more important than being labeled a rice queen. Or my partner preferring potatoes.

No offense to anyone... just my two cents.

fullofhype said...

I just wanted to bring to attention some gay API organizations in the New York area.


Q-Wave -


If you are a queer and an API in NYC, there are organizations to embrace you and to empower you.

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