Sunday, October 24, 2010

UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng to Tell Why He Came Out

Updated 10/25/10 9:44 AM: To listen to the 25 October 2010 show, click here:
. Updated: 10/24/10 11:27 PM adding this photo. Jesse Cheng (right) comes out. Photo © Daniel C. Tsang 2010.
University of California Student Regent Jesse Cheng is slated to appear on KUCI's Subversity show Monday evening to talk about his decision to openly declare his queer sexuality last Wednesday at a speak-out and vigil in the wake of the many gay teen suicides across the United States.

The Subversity show airs from 5-6 p.m. Monday, 25 October 2010 at KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, California, and is simulcast via Podcasts will be made available here and on various sites, including iTunes shop, sometime after the airing. Show host Daniel C. Tsang will be interviewing Jesse, an Asian American Studies senior at UC Irvine, and a voting member of the UC Board of Regents.

Our report on his coming out has spread across the continent and across the Pacific to China. It was picked up by the Huffington Post and news outlets as diverse as the Harvard student newspaper, Harvard Crimson, and U.S.-based Chinese daily, Qiao Bao or China Press. The account in the pro-China newspaper translated the blog report into Chinese while adding background information on Jesse Cheng and his family. That account was in turn picked up by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, Ta Kung Pao, as well as other media outlets in China, including China News.

Our Wednesday blog report was viewed some 1600 times whereas the Huffington Post story, posted the next day, has been viewedtwittered at least 1300 times

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng Comes Out

Jesse Cheng campaigning on campus. Photo © Daniel C. Tsang 2009.
Updated 10/26/10 9:24 PM: To listen to the 25 October 2010 KUCI Subversity show interview with Jesse Cheng, click here:
Updated 10/25/10 6:33 PM adding corrections.
Updated 10/24/10 11:26 PM: Jesse Cheng to appear on KUCI's Subversity show Monday 25 October 2010 at 5 p.m.; news from this blog travels to China. See subsequent blog entry.

In an emotional, heart-felt address, University of California Student Regent Jesse Cheng, a Chinese American senior from Cupertino, Wednesday evening October 20, 2010, came out as gay. Also identifying himself as bisexual and a "queer Asian American", Cheng, an Asian American studies major at UC Irvine, related what, over the years, led him to this very public declaration.

Years ago, apparently before he attended UCI, he had told his "homie" he liked men but his friends had beaten him up as a result, trying, he recalled, to beat the gayness out of him. He marched at his first gay pride march in San Francisco, but after his mother saw him on television, he denied it was him. At UC Irvine on Wednesday, he explained he "lived for" his mother and could not let him down. After his father found a rainbow flag he had collected, Cheng told his dad, his dad, with whom he was "not close," [CORRECTED] told him that he liked the colors. His dad always was watching his back, he told me later. He also contemplated committing suicide. All this history of denial was the backdrop to his dramatic, unexpected coming out during a dark Wednesday evening at the UC Irvine flag poles during the University's speak-out and candlelight vigil against homophobic bigotry and hate in the wake of the suicide of gay Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi last month.
Jesse Cheng (right) comes out. Photo © Daniel C. Tsang 2010. Updated: 9:32 AM October 21, 2010 adding this photo.

An emotional Cheng related how he had shared with then-Student Regent Jesse Bernal, the first openly gay Student Regent, after an earlier wave of anti-gay incidents around the UCs, that they should come out together, believing that such hatred should not happen at the UC. But Cheng didn't dare come out then. [CORRECTED: He told me later he did make a public statement as a bisexual, but spoke softly and there was no reaction.] Bernal was keynote speaker at a Harvey Milk Day at UCSC's Kresge College in May this year.

Cheng ended his talk to warm, sustained applause among the hundred or so UC Irvine students, faculty and staff listening to him.

A personal note: I have heard Jesse Cheng many times give inspiring, progressive speeches but this was the first time I felt he wasn't speaking as an activist. In fact, he spoke from the heart. Several times he almost broke down in tears. I had always known he was "one of us" -- another Asian American activist -- but this evening I was happy he was really one of us -- another queer Asian American. I went up to him and embraced him -- whispering into his ears -- "That was really powerful".
-- Daniel C. Tsang.

P.S. Jesse Cheng appeared on my KUCI Subversity show 27 July 2009.

A Call for Justice, Not Vengeance

An activist group has called for justice, not vengeance, in the case of the Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi (left) who was driven to suicide. See the press release here:


Wednesday, October 19, 2010


Rutgers LGBTQ Community Response to Tyler Clementi¹s Suicide,
March and Rally Planned for October 28

The disappearance of freshman Tyler Clementi from campus and then news
stories about his September 22, 2010 suicide shocked the Rutgers community
and many around the country. Two other Rutgers students, Dharun Ravi and
Molly Wei, face serious criminal charges in connection with the death.

Under the banner of Justice Not Vengeance, Queering the Air will march and
rally on Wednesday, October 28, 2010. This action will decry the rush to
judgment of Ravi and Wei, the racist and xenophobic vitriol used against
them, and raise larger issues about homophobia, transphobia, and lack of
safety on campus.

Rutgers¹ President, Richard McCormick says, "I believe we did all we could
and we did the right thing.² We strongly disagree. Two students are being
scapegoated for the failure of the university to provide a safe environment
for Rutgers¹ diverse community. We continue to demand answers and action on
long-standing complaints about the campus climate for lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and other
historically-marginalized populations.

Within days of Clementi¹s death, Garden State Equality, a statewide New
Jersey LGBT advocacy group, demanded they be prosecuted for hate crimes, and
given ³the maximum possible sentence.² Campus Pride, a national group for
LGBT college students, has pressed Rutgers for the pair¹s ³immediate
expulsion² with no mention of an investigation or disciplinary hearing.
18,000 people endorse an online group seeking even more serious charges ­
manslaughter. Ravi and Wei have become a foil for anti-Asian racism calling
for their ³return to their countries,² and ascribing homophobia to their
cultures ­ as if homophobia were not deeply ingrained in the culture of the

The overwhelming response has been a disproportionate and discriminatory
call for the criminal justice system to act swiftly and harshly. Such
public outrage often fuels vengeance and inequality rather than just
actions. We urge that the principles of fairness and due process be
honored. Passing judgment before there has been time for an investigation,
facts discovered and careful consideration is reckless.

While we do not condone the actions that Ravi and Wei are alleged to have
taken, neither can we stand aside and watch the Rutgers community lay the
entire blame for Clementi¹s death on two eighteen-year-olds. It is
especially ugly that comments about the pair have cast aspersions on their
race, ethnicity, and citizenship. We note the criminal justice system has
historically been tainted by such prejudice.

Ignorance of the lives of others¹ often leads us to physically and
emotionally wound them. This tragedy must be seen as a cause for
reflection, education, reconciliation and reparation. By doing so we honor
the Clementi family¹s ³hope that [their] personal loss will serve as a call
for compassion, empathy and human dignity.²

Queering the Air is a queer-centric social justice organization in New
Brunswick, NJ. We believe that to confront heterosexism and transphobia, we
must also fight racism, sexism, poverty, and ableism. We use lobbying,
protest, and non-violent direct action to achieve our goals. We are
consciously not Rutgers affiliated, but composed of students, faculty,
staff, and community residents, working together to build a safer campus and
a more inclusive community. Queering the Air was formed in Spring 2010.

* * * * *

This Queering the Air statement has been endorsed by the following
organizations: Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) (New York,
NY); LLEGO (The LGBTQQIA People of Color Union at Rutgers); Rutgers
University Asian American Leadership Cabinet; Members of the Collective for
Asian American Scholarship, Rutgers University; Rutgers University BAKA -
Students United For Middle Eastern Justice; and the Rutgers University
Women¹s Center Coalition.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scholars Tackle Global Yaoi Phenomenon

Updated: To listen to the 18 October 2010 show, click here:

A new scholarly work on the globalization of Yaoi has come out and KUCI's Subversity program features an interview with its co-editor and a contributor to this pioneering collection. The Yaoi phenomenon, part of a larger Boys Love visual depiction, features teen male romantic and sexual relationships, originally geared, in Japan, at a female readership. As it spread around the world (and the new book includes a chapter on Indonesia's reception to it), one wonders about its effect on how its readers -- now male and female, young and older -- view same-sex relationships in the real world.

Mark McHarry is an independent scholar. With Antonia Levi and Dru Pagliassotti, he edited a newly published collection of essays, Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre (McFarland). He has contributed to books, scholarly journals and critical popular publications, including Mangatopia (ABC-Clio); LGBT Identity and Online New Media (Routledge); Queer Popular Culture: Literature, Media, Film, and Television (Palgrave Macmillan); Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context; Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature (Routledge); Journal of Homosexuality; Z magazine; and Gay Community News. He has presented at conferences in the U.S. and Europe, including the Popular Culture Association, Modern Language Association, Textual Echoes (Umeå University, Sweden), and, this fall, at Écritures du corps (University of Paris). He is researching the life of author-inventor Hiraga Gennai.

Hope Donovan authored the chapter "Gift Versus Capitalist Economies: Exchanging Anime and Manga in the U.S." in Boys' Love Manga. With a double major in English and Drawing, Donovan's only logical career path was comics. Having attained this unlikely goal through legitimate employment editing Japanese and Korean manga as well as developing original series for TOKYOPOP, Donovan fulfilled her dreams by editing one hentai, one yuri, and one yaoi series simultaneously. She has contributed short manga to Happy Yaoi Yum Yum (Yaoi Press) and Yuri Monogatari (ALC). Donovan currently is a freelance manga editor, English adaptor, layout artist, and creator.

Tune in for a stimulating discussion on this global phenomenon that is invading urban and suburban bookstores.

Subversity airs from 5-6, 18 October, 2010, on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, California, and is simulcast via

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sophia Law Looks Back on Art and Vietnamese Detention Camps in Hong Kong

Updated: To listen to the 11 October 2010 show, click here:

In the next edition of Subversity, a KUCI public affairs program, we talk with Lingan University Visual Studies Prof. Sophia Law (right) visiting from Hong Kong.

We'll ask her about her project documenting and analyzing some 800 pieces of artwork originally collected by Garden Streams, a local community project, from the Hong Kong detention camps of Vietnamese and Chinese Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s and early 1990s. How did she become interested in the issue, and what does she hope will come out of it?

Visiting UCI Libraries this week to research the UCI Special Collections & Archive's Southeast Asian Archive collection of materials, including a several hundred pieces of artwork and publications, from Hong Kong refugee camps in the 1980s and 1990s, Prof. Law will give two public lectures, Wednesday 13 October 2010 at noon at Room 570, UCI's Langson Library, on narratives of trauma in the artwork in the camps, and Thursday 14 October 2010 at Nguoi Viet community room on Moran Street (north of Bolsa Ave. at end of dead-end street) in Westminster at 7 p.m. on Hong Kong's reaction to the influx of boatpeople several decades ago.

Artwork from Whitehead Detention Camp, Hong Kong, courtesy of Garden Streams

To read more about Prof. Law’s research, see her 2008 essay, “Art in Adversity”.

Prof. Law was also interviewed in Nguoi Viet prior to her visit. [Rough translation from Google]

Prof. Law and Subversity show host Daniel C. Tsang first met in Hong Kong in connection with a 2-day October 2009 workshop held at the City University of Hong Kong Southeast Asia Research Centre that brought together scholars on the Chinese/Vietnamese diaspora. The two are among those contributing chapters to a new collection of essays, The Chinese/Vietnamese Diaspora: Revisiting the Boatpeople in Hong Kong to be published next year by Routledge, edited by Yuk-Wah Chan of City University.

Subversity airs from 5-6 p.m. Pacific Time on 11 October 2010 on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, California, and is simulcast via