Articulating Identity, Organizing Community
Re-Launching the Queer API Movement in the United States
The 3rd Annual Queer & Asian Conference
University of California at Berkeley
1 May 2010
I would like to begin by thanking Cal Q&A and the committee members who organizers of the 3rd annual Queer & Asian conference for inviting me to speak here. I’d especially like to thank Charles Tsai for all of his work in helping to bring me here. I’m honored to be asked to keynote this conference and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to speak to you on the theme of ‘Launch,’ which I have made the theme of my speech.
QACON08’s theme was “Story-ing The Silence: Filling the Pages,” and QACON09’s theme was “Articulation: Animating Our Collective Autobiography.” QACON10’s mission statement declares:
“…It’s time now, to use the tools we have, our history, our storytelling, our wills and hearts to look forward and move together in solidarity. Continuing the conference tradition of strength through shared stories and experiences, the question now becomes how we can unify those stories into action. How can we build and unify a community to address the issues we face as a whole? How do we advance our trajectory with the networks we have built? How do we take concrete actions to make our presence as a community seen, heard, and felt?…”
What I would like to do is to attempt to answer those questions by linking the themes of identity and activism, talking about how an articulation of identity can provide the basis for effective activism and advocacy. I would like to begin with a brief look at the homoerotic traditions and proto-transgenderal identities and practices in pre-modern Asian and Pacific Islander (API) societies and their relevance for contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity construction in the United States. I will then look at the emergence of an LGBT/queer API movement through the development of queer API organizations in this country over the course of recent decades. Drawing from my own experience with several of those organizations, I will outline what I see as the major challenges facing queer API organizations and how we as a community can move forward to build a queer API movement that effectively advances our liberation as individuals and members of that community.