Slicing Silence: Asian Progressives Come Out
It was at the University of Michigan in the 1970s when my two identities [gay and Asian American] came together again. It was not easy at first.
I helped found East Wind, an Asian American activist group at the university. East Wind, the group, believed that "the history of Asian Americans is similar to that of the other visible minorities. Because we share a common past and future, it is imperative that we join hands with other U.S. minority people for the eventual liberation of us all." Although I was active in both Asians and gay groups, I had a sense of isolation since the gay group was largely white, and there was practically no other gay Asian with whom I could identify. At the time many of us remained active in progressive causes because we sought a radical restructuring of America. We rejected straight [heterosexual] depictions of us as psychologically impaired or as incapable of progressive work. We knew these stereotypes weren't true. We remained activists even when we suffered racism or homophobia because of this larger goal of changing overall society. And we saw our struggle as part and parcel of people of color struggles.
But in 1979, because similarly inclined individuals were able to meet together, a critical mass was achieved, and we were finally able to begin organizing publicly as both Asian and gay. The effort continues, because the task of creating a society that meets basic human needs remains unfinished.