Saturday, June 25, 2005

SF Pride...blah.

So tomorrow's SF Pride.

Big f-in deal.

It doesn't have the ring or the cachet that it used to for me. But then again, it's like that for a lot of queer people who live in SF. Most usually take off the weekend to go somewhere else, especially if they live in the Castro (god help them tonight).

I guess after what happened last year when it felt like there really was something to be proud of--to see queer couples getting married and being happy to show their newly married selves out there. My husband and I were one of the lucky 4000+ couples who got married in that mad dash to marry last year, and for those few brief months, it felt like something magical was happening. And for the most part, there has been a significant shift in the way people look at our relationship, as something legitimate, and demanding of rights. Even if I have my own rather non-traditional views of what relationships should be (my husband and I are in a polyamorous relationship that would take a bit too long to explain here), the fact that on a very deep level, straight people are starting to see queer relationships on a deeper and appreciative, but also profound and paradoxical level--as both incredibly and radically different, but as ordinary and banal as straight relationships.

I guess that's the one thing that I have problems with the whole queer marriage thing. For the most part, it really is all about rights and political privileges that straight couples get when they marry. After all, on its basest political level, marriage is really nothing more than a social and political contract between two parties to share economic resources to begin a family. But there just seems to be such a pressing need to show that queer relationships are somehow better than straight, that in their need to assimilate, a lot of conservative queers feel a need to copy the model of relationships, right down to having babies.

It makes me ambivalent to think that so many queers are involved for marriage when in most states and cities across the nation that we're not even protected for basic civil rights based on our sexual orientation and gender presentation.

And don't get me started on what it's like for us queers of color. I feel like I've gained a reputation here in SF as being the "Asian fag with a mouth," since I've insisted in talking about my racial and ethnic along with my sexual identity; something that most queer whites don't want to understand. Case in point--the husband and I were invited as the token Asians to talk about racism in the queer men's community in the Castro and I basically spouted off on my experience as being a queer man of color who is constantly challenged about my masculinity, my racial and ethnic identity and my sexuality all at the same time and how I'm sick of it. What surprised me the most was the response of the whites and blacks (you could count all the Asians at the forum with one hand and still ahve fingers left over); the blacks (who all had white partners) were surprised and pleased that an Asian guy "talked like them", and the whites were stunned that I actually put in any thought into this. But I digress.

Even as we struggled to come to grips to what marriage came to mean for the both of us, on both political as well as personal levels, it feels like our relationship is stronger than before because we're both allowing ourselves to grow as individuals even as we both come to understand that our relationship is evolving as much as our own personal identities.

So to get BACK to one of my original points--it feels like that while the whole queer marriage thing is in the works--it seems misguided and needs to be re-evaluated. People forget that when interracial marriage was made legal across the country in the late 60s, less than 25% of people actually were approving of it, and the government realized that the rights of all minorities had to be respected, regardless of public opinion. Instead of trying to appeal to the mainstream, who will keep looking at us like the freak show for decades to come, to appeal to a sense of rights guaranteed to us as American citizens and that the government should do what's right, not because it's popular, but because it's morally right.

And now, getting back to my original point about not feeling very Pride-ful, well, since I seem to be the most well-known (or infamous or notorious) Asian fag in San Francisco, I feel a bit disconnected with the communities that I've claimed as my own. With me being fired as the executive director for FTFA a month ago, and the relative silence from the communities that I've always worked hard to represent, I feel (justifyingly) bitter. Surprisingly enough, I've been embraced more by the mainstream queer white community b/c of all the bullshit I've had to go through because I was fired; and also the straight Asian community seems to be more interested in me getting involved with them.

It's just really disheartening to think that queer Asian men (especially in SF) are so apolitical or unfeeling about what's going on in the world. Whenever I go out with the husband and there are queer Asian men about, I feel the stares and hear the whispers from them immediately. It's just really sad because except for the husband and a few really close friends, I haven't gotten any support from this community. It just feels like most of the men that I've met are either too afraid to come out and be political, or are too worried about their own situations to help out, or they don't want to be paraded about, like I've had to deal with the past year and half--first with getting married, and then with the whole FTFA fiasco.

The queer Asian men's organizations here in SF are useless--they only wanted me and the husband because we're seen as the epitome of what queer Asian men should be, two Asian men together, living together in a long-term relationship and thinking about getting a house, having kids, etc. We were fielding calls and e-mails from all the different organizations last year after we got married because we were the ONLY Asian male couple willing to be shown on international TV and news for putting on an Asian face to gay marriage. This year, because of the controversy surrounding FTFA, nothing.

Maybe they realize that I'll end up being the whistleblower and shitkicker that I've already done with FTFA and that they don't want that kind of attention placed on their organizations.

Then again, maybe I should join those orgs and try to clean them up. :)

So, yeah, that's why I'm not feeling much like Pride this year. What do I have to be Proud for?

It feels like I need to try to find a community of progressive queer Asian men here in SF who are actually committed to being progressive--or at least create one. It would help if they were cute too. :)


Anonymous said...

i really enjoyed this post.

It feels like I need to try to find a community of progressive queer Asian men here in SF who are actually committed to being progressive--or at least create one.

what is your defination of "progressive?"

what i've seen with asian fags is, in general, are more "political" and "vocal" in terms of fag "rights" and the "right" to get married. their sexual identity is their only identity. certainly the mainstream gay (white) community has more political clout than any asian organization, gay or straight.

and when it comes to dealing with and acknowledging the issues that you raised - racism, racial and ethnic identity - the majority of "progressive" asian fags are just downright apathetic and apolitical.

"progressive" asian fags as i have encountered, call themselves "progressive" cuz they don't let racism get them down. or rather, they insist racism doesn't exist and nothing is ever racial or racially motivated -- whether they were shut down by the white fag they lusted after to being called a "chink."

these same "progressive" asian fags are also "colorblind" and think margaret cho "represents." last but never least, asian fags who call themselves "progressive" -- whether they're straight up potatoqueens or "community activits" -- are always hooked up with whitey. unfortunately, these "progressive" attitudes make up the bulk of gay asian "voices" so it's not surprising you would want a community of asian fags who knows what's going on in the world. when you find them, let me know cuz all these "progressive" asian fags are the least progressive.

Efren said...

Thanks for the comment. This is probably going to be a big brain fart, so you'll have to excuse me.

Looking back at the post, I realized that the term "progressive" really isn't what I'm looking for--mainly because there are too many political connotations that I'm not too comfortable with identifying with.

I think the term I'm looking for is "critical" or "skeptic." As someone who's finally down the road of detoxification after being a wanna-be social theorist for the past 10 years, I can't bring myself to truly identify as a "liberal" or "progressive" because they fall under the same traps that the right-wingers do. One of the major problems that we Americans have (and probably most people in general) is that we tend to accept things willy-nilly without really thinking about what the hell it is we're accepting. While politically I probably would be seen as a leftist, I get really irritated since most of the people who would be leftist are people who aren't very...pragmatic. Also, I think because people are so bent on being only friends with people whose ideologies fit theirs that they don't try to really take a look at what's going on underneath the surface.

As a sociologist, as a pragmatist, as a skeptic, I'm used to looking at things not only as simply face value, but also at the context in which statements (political or otherwise) are made. I have as much distrust and distaste for most white liberals/leftists as I do for most guppified Asian fags.

I look at the ways in which the SF queer API men's community sections themselves off and makes "coalitions" when it's politically convenient (and also when it's extremely easy/lazy to do so) and find it disgusting. As a feminist, I can't abide by the ways that queer API men ignore or belittle the concerns of API women. As an anti-racist, I look at the ways that our own community looks at fellow Asians (particularly the South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities) and how we pigeonhole them and am disgusted. As someone from a working-class family, I am appalled that the community doesn't reach out to those APIs who don't have a high school diploma or make over $50K a year because we're afraid of calling out our own communities' racism, sexism/misogyny, homophobia, and classism.

I do have to take issue about Asian men hooking up with white men as a sign of somehow being hypocritical as activists within the API community. In SF, we're lucky--we live in the only mainland American city where the largest ethnic population is API. Maybe it's my own personal experience, but I find that the majority of the Asian men I know who have white male partners are at least more aware and understanding of our concerns as queer APIs than our "sticky rice" folks. I've found that more often than not, people who claim sticky rice are very politically lazy, that simply by having an Asian partner, they're seen as politically and socially acceptable. I would rather have a progressive white man on my side who's politically savvy and knows what to do, than a lazy ass Asian man who thinks he's absolved from being politically involved because he's fulfilled his racial duty.

As a political activist, you have to make your alliances wherever you can--you don't have the luxury of shutting people out simply by virtue of physical characteristics or that they don't fit your political profile 100%. Is it whoring? On one level, of course. But as a person of color, as a gay man of color, I don't have much inroads into claiming political power unless I make allies with other people, and force myself into the conversation. I'm relatively lucky--my erotic and romantic preferences are for other queer men of color, but it's also something that I do challenge myself on--if I were to become attracted to a white guy, would that really change my political leanings? Probably not. But just as I question what's going on in the world around me, I have to question my own motivations of why I do what I do, whether it be fucking a hot guy (white, Asian, whatever) b/c I'm horny as hell, or choosing which coalitions to work with to try to get more true political representation.

It'd be nice to find other men who feel the same way I do, and on some level I have. The few friends that I can actually call friends are people who have the same mindset as me, or are at least always questioning the world around them and seeing what they can do to stir shit up. Complacency is something that we, particularly as Asian fags, don't have the luxury of.