May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. So just like Breast Cancer Awareness, Women’s History, Black History, Gay Pride, we Asians also have a month. What? Haven’t heard about it? We’ll that certainty isn’t because we are still the silent minority… eh, hum… So the good news is within the sub-genera of Asian there is Gaysian. Of which loyal reader I represent.
So I wanted to tell you about a handful of Asian LGBT performers who have been representin’ across the country and elsewhere. These folks who bring queer identity to the masses, in humorous and intelligent ways, come from Korean, Chinese, Pakistani and Indian backgrounds.
Of course there is the great Margaret Cho who has been at it for almost two decades, on screen, stage, and page. Her real cross-over breakout moment, and the moment she won the heart of LGBT community was her groundbreaking stand-up show, “I’m The One That I Want”, since then she’s hands down been our Queer Diva Queen of Comedy.
On May 15th “Cho Dependent,” a new concert film premieres at the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. And this summer “Drop Dead Diva” (Lifetime), in which Margaret stars, will air a speical Bullying/Gay-Prom episode inspired by Constance McMillen’s story. Margaret will be wearing Project Runway designer, Rami Kashou’s custom designed prom dress. Set your TiVo on July 24th.
D’Lo is a Spoken Word and Theater Artist who has reached global audiences through an invitation from the Asia Pacific Performance Exchange (APPEX) to participate in an international three week intensive residency in Bali. In addition to that, D’Lo’s life and work has been published in various anthologies and academic journals, including “Desi Rap: Hip Hop and South Asia America” and “Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic”. D’Lo is currently touring not one but two solo theater shows “Minor D’Talesand”, and “D’FunQT”.
Sapna Kumar is a comedian and has been featured on MTV LOGO’s One Night Stand Up and was a regional finalist on NBC’s Last-Comic Standing. Sapna will be in the upcoming feature films “Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together” and “Promise Land.” Sapna developed her love of drama inadvertently by being inspired by the idiosyncrasies of her mother, who “performed her set” while recounting the colorful personalities she encountered while working a day job in retail.
Comedian, Shazia Mirza is an award winning British Asian from Birmingham England. She has been profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Channel, was a semi-finalist in NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and Have I Got News for You (BBC) . She has performed in sold out tours in India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Europe, and the US. Though not technically queer, Shazia says, “I thought of giving up [performing], but no Muslim man wants to marry me—now that’s I’ve dabbled in jokes and fingered a few white men on the 38 bus.”
You all know, Grace Moon, artist, writer, professor, Internet Revolutionary, and newly minted lecturer. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, she’s now based in New York. When Moon is not opining from her loft in Bushwick, or Professor-izing on art, she paints silently in solitude.
Reigning Mr. Transman and Spoken Word Poet, Kit Yan, also hails from Hawaii. Kit’s work has been taught at universities from San Francisco State to Harvard. He is the voice of Campus Pride and OUTmedia’s “Queer It Up” campaign, and and HBO’s East of Main Street: Asian’s Aloud. He has spoken at the 2009 National Equality March, the San Francisco Pride main stage, and was a top finalist at the National Queer Slam. Kit tackles race and gender with eloquence, and humor, just watch.
Many artists get their start performing on college campuses (think Ani DiFranco), this group is no different. Not only do independant queer artists get exposure through campus activities but they help foster and stimulate conversation with young leaders. My friend Shelly Weiss founder of, OUTmedia tirelessly works at creating a roster of artists and speakers who bring diversity and queer acceptance to college campuses and other venues across the country. So if you happen to book your campuses LGBT activities keep this list in mind, I hope to see you in the not too distant future.