Lightness

Despite pressure from all sides
clueless colleagues
passive-aggresive mates
hair-pulling idiots of the world

I must
balance a level of humor
that helps me
laugh it off
shake it off
flick off, sleep & repeat.

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Trans bathroom rights (& immigrants)

In May 2016, President Obama issued an executive order on nonbinding guidelines for public schools on access to bathroom and locker of the gender that transgender Americans choose.

Since then, we see Americans’ fear of the “threat” that transgender folks pose to cisgender counterparts. People say that they’re not transphobic, but we hear about how trans folks going to the bathroom will threaten the safety of all those inside.

Listen, people go to the bathroom to pee and poo; ain’t nobody got time for you. Perverts will be perverts. Why does the general public think that trans people are automatically perverts?! Americans are grossly mis-informed of what it means to be transgender. Furthermore the “trans threat” reminds me of a similar fear of gays in the anthology, “Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing”  In this work, scholars point out how bathroom design are created to hinder sexual activity between gay males (not females). Bathroom stalls are created with crevices so that other bathroom goers can police “non-traditional” acts. City officials and universities remove bathrooms every time there are reports of people having sex. The threat of gay male sex is so strong that entities are willing to forgo restrooms in spaces such as parks and universities even if that means there will be fewer places for patrons to relieve themselves.

I’ve noticed that Chinese ethnic newspaper have sided with conservatives in this public bathroom rights discussion. One Flushing resident was frightened by a transgender individual at Target. In the weekly World Journal, there were two opinion pieces where one person stated that transgenderism was a “mental disorder,” calling trans folks “transvestites.” Furthermore, the writer asserted that “no LGBT people existed in the past; it is only now starting to surface perhaps because of evolution’s need to solve overpopulation.”

In seeing the surge of these articles in the Chinese media, I am more convinced that more of these conversations need to be conducted in languages other than English. How can community advocates in New York City have more conversations in Chinese about this? In the spirit of pride, I feel so much conviction in politcal engagement of our immigrant communities. gay and trans folks have always existed. and we are not a threat to your safety. bigotry and ignorance are the biggest threats to the safety of all.

Trans Taiwanese New Yorker Pearl Love was attacked on the MTA early May. Also think about recently deceased transgender activist Alisha in Pakistan. She was shot 6 times by a man who tried to rape her and taken to a hospital in Peshawar. But because doctors were too busy arguing over whether to place her in the men’s or women’s ward, Alisha died before she could receive a life-saving blood transfusion in a timely manner. Violence happen to gay and trans folks around the world – we as children of immigrant families in NYC need to be part of the solution in creating more political education opportunities for more folks in our communities, in languages other than English.

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Habitual Writing

Over-thinking again and now I haven’t written a thing in ages!

The more I write, the better my stories will flow.

There was a period of time where I wondered if I wanted to write. Putting pen to paper was just so difficult. But I realized typing is a better medium for me – if I could only stop getting so distracted. Sitting down to write about things that matter to you is hard & I realize that my attention wanders not out of boredom, but as a defense mechanism.

How can I sit down and type out the stories of taboo and silence? the hard-do-have conversations? Above all, I need that work-life balance because for me creativity always comes last when work and errands are in the mix.

Couldn’t help but feel a little jealous that a colleague of mine just produced his first play, three years after we had both participated in a program that helped us organize stage readings for our 10-minute plays.

Need to sit my ass down and think more. My writing can move people. My thinking can move people. My respect for myself derives in part from my respect to my own writing craft.

Cheers!

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G is for Gucci

Tonight, Audre Lorde Project hosted a facilitator training for LGBT people of color.

A lot of gender non-conforming and cisgender women. I was probably one of 2 of East Asians and one of the few gay cisgender men in the room. For some reason, I could not get myself to speak up.

One person said they work with sex workers who come into their meetings with a lot of emotional baggage. How could ALP’s facilitation model assist? Yelling so-called “community agreements” like “one mic” was not going to stop fist fights.

It became clear that socioeconomic class and education created diferent views. ALP facilitator Cleo asked us the difference between “teaching” and “facilitation.” While a lot of folks who went to college asociatied “teaching” with one-way lectures and facilitation as a helpful tool, one participant said:

“Actually, I grew up with LGBT African American seniors in Philly who taught me to garden. Teaching from my experience has been positive way of the older generation imparting knowhow to my generation. I didn’t go to college like all of y’all. I learned facilitation when I started coming into these non-profit spaces. Y’all ask me to talk a certain way and it feels oppressive.”

We framed everything in terms of “education level,” but really the root was socioeconomic class. I come from a middle-class Asian family in Queens. Inevitably, the way I speak will be different from some inner city youth.

At workshop’s end, someone asked if everybody was “Gucci.?” I looked for a handbag or other designer gear, but realized they were asking if we were good like Gucci?

The LGBT community is not monolithic – so even though I felt shy, I’m hoping to see where the facilitator workshop takes me .

Lot of great acronyms for ground rules, like “WAIT” for Why am I Talking? to challenge over-sharers to let others a chance to speak. Or like ELMO, which is “everyone let’s move on,” a great strategy to keep the conversation going. If only, acronyms could solve all of the world’s problems!

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Filed under Musings, Uncategorized

Courtyards & Tatami

No local Taipei teen would believe this, but my mom grew up on a farm in Taipei. Not New Taipei City, the environs of Taipei which is now its own entity. Ma’s childhood home was in Tianmu. This was before the flashy Takashi-maya mall towered over the area with its flashy billboards and shiny stores. Decades before, Ma grew up in a traditional siheyuan, the four-sided Chinese courtyard. Three different families lived in each wing. Everyone shared that same circular entrance and had access to those wooden doors. During Taiwan little league baseball broadcasts, three families would crowd around the TV, voices ready to shout “OUT” or “ARE YOU BLIND, UMP?”

Outside that four-walled world were the fields. Little sis always laughed when Ma said she grew up with cows. Ma would sometimes get scolded by the neighbor for picking out the sugar cane in the field.

“Keep pulling the sugar cane out and your teeth will all fall out by the time you’re 20!,” the irritable farm wife would shout, shaking her fists.

Ba’s house in Taichung was not at all like Ma’s childhood home. Nai Nai and Ye Ye had good-paying jobs at the Tobacco and Alcohol Bureau. They could afford a three-floor Japanese style house in the vast expanse of land in central Taiwan. The next neighbor was a few minutes bike ride away. Maybe even faster if you stepped on the gas on your otobai.

Every year, the tatami mats had to be changed. Not every room had the tatami, but enough to make it a big ordeal every year when the Kazuo the carpenter came. All three kids had to clean out their room for the carpenter to come.

Kazuo the Carpenter would go to the special rooms, shrug off his slippers, and step onto the platform of the room. He would replace the old tatami with new slivers of woven grass, the size perfectly matched to the room’s area. Ba loved to have friends sleep over in the summer. All you needed was a pillow for each person. And amidst the sticky, sweaty Taichung nights, air would breeze through the slabs of tatami and through Ba’s shorts.

While Ma in Taipei had to squeeze into a room with her sister and brothers, Ba in Taichung with his sister and brother had one room each. Each room, Spartan. Low-level table, tatami, and sliding rice paper closets.

Closets didn’t really have much: school uniforms and desk supplies. Ba did not get the light shirt and shorts of public shools. The mischevious middle child that was my dad had to go where all bad boys went for discipline: Catholic school.

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Filed under Creative Writing

Pat on the Back: 2015 highlights

  1. I am proud that I got a job in government working with immigrants and the LGBTQ community
  2. I am proud of my newfound confidence in my work, in connecting with communities, and language abilities
  3. I am proud of my hands-on research in NYC communities – applied redevelopment plan for East Harlem and strategic planning for Harlem CBO
  4. I am proud that I moved out to Brooklyn – it’s always been a dream of mine to do this in my 20’s and live with my friend
  5. I am proud that I made some great friends, particularly amongst my co-workers
  6. I am proud that I got more involved with CAAAV – fundraising, simutlaneous & consecutive interpretation, facilitating language skill share
  7. I am proud that S invited me as a guest speaker to speak with NYU youth on gentrification in NYC AAPI communities
  8. I am proud that I visited Brasil & learned some Portuguese (must go back!)
  9. I am proud to be the son of Mum and Dad. Newfound respect and understanding with Dad and Mum. Especially after moving out, I appreciate things from Mom’s cooking to Dad’s availability to help with translations
  10. I am proud that K and I are growing as a couple. Thank goodness for K for getting me more interested in cooking / cooking shows.
  11. I am proud of that research paper on NYC Chinatown’s Confucius Plaza. I am proud that I built skills like GIS and Statistical Analysis – I survived both of those classes!

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Here we go, 2016

My birthday and new year are so close together that the urge to self-reflect is stronger than usual.

I last wrote in this blog a year ago and here I am exploring again. I need to be consistent and not ride the “New Year’s Resolution” wave of people. You know, like the people who are on the treadmill at the gym during the first two weeks of January and then never show up again until the next January!

Four general categories of resolutions:
Creative outlet
Personal relationships
Professional
Financial security

Message for 2016 me.
Be consistent! Stop with one-offs. Have to be more self-motivated.
Make time for yourself. Make time for your loved ones. Work is NOT everything.

Let’s go, 2016. Come at me, bro!

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