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Dating and Relationships

On this page are third-party educational resources that may serve as a starting point to generate greater cultural awareness and exchange of multicultural ideas. Asians & Friends Denver is not responsible for content and the following is for informative, education purposes only.

Negotiating Social Stigma Among Gay Asian Men


It has long been argued that stereotypes have led many gay Asian men to have negative feelings about themselves and other gay Asians, to the idealization of white men as potential partners, hostility towards other gay Asians, internalization of the stereotypes as passive and submissive, and being sexually objectified by some white men. To counter the effects of the stereotypes, critics and theorists of the gay Asian experience suggest increasing the visibility of Asian role models in the gay community, developing a strong sense of self-identity by choosing Asian men as potential partners, and encouraging involvement with the mainstream gay community. In contrast, we explore resistance to the stereotypes at a personal level, using narratives obtained through a series of interviews to analyze the ways in which gay Asian men negotiate and (re)frame the social stigma associated with their bodies and desire for white men. We argue that gay Asian men do not simply accept the negative stereotypes imposed by the dominant culture; rather, they actively resist and continuously reconstruct meanings about their bodies and desires.

Breaking Language Barriers: Asian Dating When English is not the First Language

By Nisha Patel

If you are Asian and you don't speak English very well you may be shy about going out on dates and such because you don't want to have to deal with the language barriers that exist. The thing is, a lot of people are in your shoes and it can actually do you a lot of good to go out and interact with new people. Interacting will help you break that language barrier and become more familiar with English, if you are interested.

There is no reason to be shy about the fact that English is not your first language. When you meet someone that you would like to date you can be honest about the fact that your English is not always so good and you are a bit intimidated by the fact that others can speak well. This can often be a bonding experience and most people are very understanding. Your inability to speak English fluently shouldn't be a reason for you not to date!

If you have a date with someone that speaks English better than you do, the best thing to do is to relax. Try to go to an environment where you won't feel really uncomfortable and where neither of you will strain to hear the other speaking. When you are in a quiet environment you will both have an easier time to be able to process what the other is saying so that you can enjoy your time instead of repeating yourself constantly.

You may find that you speak English far better than you thought you could if you are honest with the person you are dating and you are as relaxed as possible. Your first few dates should be really low key and should be in quiet environments such as small restaurants, your home, the move theatres, the outdoors, or participating in an activity that you both enjoy. This will give you both the ability to speak to one another naturally as well as allow you to hear one another, too! First dates are always nerve racking but they are even more so when you aren't sure that you are being understood.

Don't let the fact that English is not your first language keep you from dating the people that you want to do. Honesty is the best policy, and you'll find that most people find that honesty endearing. Also, most people don't care about what language you speak well, as long as you enjoy the same things and are both willing to be patient with communication. With enough interaction, you'll likely be able to understand one another perfectly, which is what good relationships are made of.

Gay Interracial Relationships: On Being "Sticky Rice" and Loving Other Asian Men


So Jeff Yang up and did it — he talked about interracial relationships among Asians, but added a twist and focused on straight Asian men. And while it’s all well and good, and talks about on a really peripheral level the varied issues that straight Asian men go through, like the issue of being a person of color and disenfranchised, yet taking advantage of heterosexual American male privilege and demanding to be with a white woman; the dearth of Asian men with women of color, particularly black women; and looking — finally — at the problems that mixed-race Asians have to go through, particularly in regards to ethnic identity, I find myself irritated because they’ve left me out. Again.

As someone who’s been romantically and sexually attracted to other Asian men since at least sixteen (when I had my first boyfriend, who happened to be Vietnamese), I found myself with relatively less psychological baggage than most other queer Asian men who happened to have dated white men. I wasn’t particularly looking for someone Asian, but my first boyfriend happened to be a transfer student from San Diego, a Vietnamese guy with something different, and so we started hanging out a lot. When we started holding hands, it seemed like the most natural thing to do, even though people were talking. The six months that we dated had all the trappings of puppy love and unrealistic expectations (moving in together at age seventeen, going to the same college, etc.) And while I ended up ending the relationship because of my own fucked up internalized homophobia and the threat of being disowned, he opened up the possibility of being proud of who I was as being Asian, and being Filipino. He was genuinely interested in my cultural background, asking questions about food, history, and my upbringing. My mom loved him and wondered what happened to “my friend” after I broke it off — the only other time she ever really liked a guy I dated was my current partner. I can safely say that thanks to him, he started me on a path to become relatively well adjusted in terms of how my ethnic and sexual identity came to play. Even though I totally fucked it up.

After coming out publicly in college, I began to meet other queer Asian men, whose preferences were more towards white men. What was annoying to me was that they always had to feel apologetic towards their preferences for me. One guy, who had also dated primarily white men, said in all sincerity, “Wow, that’s so cool that your first boyfriend was Vietnamese. That is so… so… revolutionary!” I remember looking at him and wondering what planet he stepped off of, and why he felt he had to justify his preferences to me, especially since there was no attraction between us. I can see where he was going — that he was going through the now oft-quoted adage (and I’m taking liberties with this) that “Loving Asian men is a revolutionary act,” especially if you’re another Asian American man who’s been taught to believe that white men are the pinnacle of desirability.

Needless to say, this has been a constant theme ever since. Coming out in the early to mid 1990s, there were very few out Asian American men for me to look up to, and I could count all the Asian men with other Asian partners on the fingers of one hand, and have fingers left over. I saw how Asian men were either completely ignored by the mainstream queer white media, or simply seen as sexual objects, like a male archetype of Suzie Wong, the dragon lady, but with a gay twist. Being unable to get a green card, Asian men were simply seen as gold-diggers, with small dicks who are exclusively bottoms, and most importantly, who can’t be trusted. Fuck with us and we’ll take all your shit. We couldn’t speak English fluently, nor be fluent in American culture.

No wonder so many queer Asian American men coming out at that time had so much baggage.

I’ve never seen my primary attraction towards Asian men as something political or particularly revolutionary — it was just part of who I was and what makes me tick. I’ve seen guys who felt a need to be called “sticky rice”, or be an Asian man attracted to other Asian man in order to be seen as politically acceptable, when in reality, they preferred white men, even though their politics was truly spot on. I’ve seen Asian men who’ve blindly preferred other Asian men, then spout off on the most racist stuff on non-Asian men (white, black, whatever), but automatically assumed that we were buddies because of our mutual preferences. I’ve been with guys who claimed to be “potato queens,” but only because they had never met another Asian guy who was Americanized as they were and suddenly realized that whole new dating opportunities existed to them.

It’s sad to see that the dialectic that exists among queer Asian men revolves around Asian and white, with very, very few Asian men dating other men of color, particularly black. Latino men are seen as being “almost white” and are seen as culturally acceptable, but I’ve only met 3 or 4 Asian-black male couples whose relationships lasted a long time and were not fraught with cultural expectations based on stereotypes.

That being said, personally, it’s never bothered me to see Asian men with other men, white, or of color. Given that the dating pool for us “sticky rice” is so limited to the point that we can be downright incestuous (10% of 3% of the total American population, you do the math) I have better things to do than to waste my time trying to regulate who my fellow Asians can date. I’m ecstatic to see couples get together and survive long enough to become long term, regardless of who their partner is. Given the outright homophobia that exists in many of our Asian communities, and the racism that both partners feel, particularly if they’re interracial, it’s a victory and a triumph to see couples survive.

Thankfully though, as the number of queer Asian men coming out has skyrocketed thanks to the ‘net, and also seeing that the young queer Asian men coming out have less racist baggage and internalized homophobia, it’s nice to see that there are more Asian-Asian (and Asian-men of color) male couples out there. And it’s funny to see that my partner and I are now one of the old-timers, having been together eleven years, gotten married, and then got really famous for being married. And it’s also nice to see Asian-white male couples who are acutely aware of their race politics… and live their lives out.

I remember when my partner and I were first dating, and we would hold hands in the Castro or in Union Square, and people would do double takes seeing two Asian guys together who obviously weren’t related. I remember getting the confused stares from fellow Asians with white partners who wondered what we were about — and the creepy, lust-filled looks from white guys trying to imagine us in bed. It’s nice to see that this is no longer such a novelty.

Hopefully, this post — however long-winded as it is — will put an end to my own personal frustration of seeing all the straight Asian people bitch and moan.

You all got it lucky. Look at my frickin’ dating pool.


History of emasculating Asian American males:

Roots in 19th Century America

Most direct forms of emasculation of Asian American males in 19th century USA were in the form of limiting Asian populations by preventing immigration of Asian women who were the wives or potential wives of Asian males. This gave rise to massive numbers of bachelor societies where Asian men never had any offspring because of the lack of Asian wives and anti-miscegenation laws against marriage with other ethnicities.

The early years of America's nation building relied upon vast cheap sources of human labor, be it slavery for the African Americans or later the indentured servants of Asian Americans. After the abolition of slavery, most 19th century American industrialists realized "the problems that a vast idle population caused" for them in terms of social support required to continuously provide work so that former freed slaves can feed, clothe and shelter themselves. Which of course in their minds was also a source of competition for themselves in terms of limiting opportunities for whites.

This sort of "social burden" of freed African American slaves was seen as a problem for the industrialists and government of the 19th century USA. Because if there were no means to control and limit non-white populations, then the USA would not be the USA in the white American social and cultural paradigm (which even today still exists and policies against Mexican immigration is another example). For instance, in certain southern states after the civil war, there were even larger black populations than white populations.

Henceforth, with the Chinese coolies in California and later Japanese farm workers in Hawaii and also Filipinos in the south, the US government and industrialists made it illegal for Asian immigrants to bring over their wives or send for "picture brides" overseas or marry other ethnicities of women (particularly white women) in order to limit the population of Asians.

These anti Asian immigration policies were insidious in the sense that American industrialists can still use vast cheap labor pools to build the US infrastructure of railroads, farms and irrigation, metal mines and other industries and in the end don't have to worry about the growth of non-white populations who might compete for jobs and resources. They can enjoy the fruits of Asian coolies' hard work and still not have to provide social welfare to them by this practice of slowly eradicating the population afterwards.

Numerous numbers of bachelor societies of Asian males then sprang up all over the west coast and Asian males were thus seen as not masculine because of their lack of wives. The stereotypes associated with Chinese males at the time period were often that off effeminate and asexual laundrymen.

Indeed, the stereotype of Chinese coolies as laundrymen and cooks and cleaners and are seen as effeminate is because of their job occupations. Due to the competition that Chinese gold miners during the California gold rush gave to white miners, the government made it illegal in most instances for Chinese miners to own land or work in the mines in order to limit the competition and reserve the gold for whites. So, without any other means to make their living these Chinese coolies resorted to washing the clothes and sheets and cooking and cleaning for the white miners in the service industry. top evrest

These cottage industries which the Chinese coolies were engaged in were often the work of women for the white miners. Therefore, it's not difficult for the open racism during that era to label and stereotype Chinese males as effeminate due to the work they did.

More history of emasculation in the 20th century

The emasculation and racism continues in the 20th century. As a mostly forgotten people in the USA, Asians struggled along mostly in California and Hawaii in early 20th century America. However, WW2 changed all of that.

Because warfare necessarily requires psychological tactics, the propaganda spread about Japanese soldiers as sexual deviants in order to rally white American sentiment to fight in order to preserve the sanctity of white women. Many examples can be seen with regards to the perversion or deviancy of Japanese males for WW2 posters.

A worthy side-note here is to note the career of early Hollywood star Sessue Hayakawa. Before WW2, Sessue Hayakawa was a genuine movie star in all the sense of that profession. He was a matinee idol sometimes even surpassing Rudolph Valentino. However, with the gearing up for war and after WW2, Sessue Hayakawa was relegated to minor support characters playing Japanese military officers. The change from heartthrob to villain is obvious here.

The same "PsyOps" against Asian males continued both in the Korea and Vietnam conflicts where once again Asian male enemy were dehumanized and denigrated to sexual deviants or eunuchs in order to boost US soldier morale and instill a sense of superiority over the dehumanized enemy so as to keep on fighting.

Where we are today

This trend continues today for a different reason. Because of the Japanese automobile boom of the 1980s and later the Japanese and Korea electronics of the 1990s and 21st century, Asian economic competition has been fierce for white European Americans. And even many universities now have "an over-representation" of Asian American students. One way for white Americans to feel some sort of leverage or control in their lives over Asian Americans.

By perpetuating the stereotype and caricature of Asian males as effeminate and not masculine in a culture obsessed with manhood, white Americans can denigrate and dismiss the achievements of Asian Americans due to their own jealousy. In order to compensate for the education gap between whites and Asians, America tries to deny Asian males masculinity.

Nowhere can this be seen as more overt and blatant in the American dating scene and culture. For more discussion and to maintain this article's cohesion, please read this wiki's articles on Asian interracial dating and the subordinate and castrated role that Asian American males play. Suffice to say, Asian American males are relegated to the point of irrelevance in the intentional castration and emasculation cruel realities of dating and marriage — a further perpetuation of the bachelor society problem that Asian American males face today.

Media's role in emasculation

The most effective method to disseminate and affect public opinion today is that of the mass media. Media more than any other means exist to persuade and normalize a standard basis of commonality through which society operates.

Thus, the current media's pernicious and open denigration and castration of Asian masculinity is pervasive and problematic for Asian Americans. Numerous examples can be found on the media portrayals page, with explanations of their origins and why they cause problems in terms of skewed and racist depictions of Asian American males.

Stereotypes related to emasculation

Briefly, they can be summed up below.

The nerd, dweeb, or geek

This is the most direct and obvious label applied to Asian males in the media. In the US social paradigm, the least sexy and desirable sort of males are the nerds and geeks. This can be seen in regular Hollywood movies that do not involve Asian Americans, even there usually the football jocks get the girls while the nerds are asexual comic reliefs on the sidelines. From Long Duk Dong to William Hung,

The Kung Fu Master

Ironically, when Bruce Lee wanted to give Asian Americans a more positive media portrayals as not being the week and docile Chinese coolies and break all the stereotypes with his fists of fury, he didn't realize that someday another stereotype would be formed. The kung fu master is usually a wise old Asian man like Mr. Miyagi, who helps and guides the white male protagonist but himself ultimately never has any sexuality at all. The martial arts character isn't so problematic when he is the main protagonist in a movie, but it does become a problem when he is made to look about as erotic as a turnip. In the movies The Replacement Killers and Romeo Must Die, the main Asian hero, after saving a female in distress, get only a hug and a kiss on the hand for their efforts, whereas the white hero in any other similar films are sexually active.

the Yellow Peril

Yes, the dreaded Yellow Peril racist stereotype makes it's rounds here as well. This is the aforementioned war propaganda imagery associated with WW2 Japan, Korea, and most notably the Vietnam War. The Yellow Peril form of emasculation often involves depicting Asian males as sexually deviant or perverse and cannot have normal relationships with women, especially Asian women.

War propaganda seeks to dehumanize and demonize the enemy, which for the 20th century mostly involved Asian males. It's no surprising then that the volume of movies on the Vietnam war alone is daunting.

What war propaganda and Yellow Peril hysteria involves is to slaughter countless numbers of faceless Asian males in the pursuit of ego boosting white American males. Since they were faced with a relentless enemy of Asian males, there's a psychological need for them to kill as many Asian males as possible in the movies by going Rambo on anything and everything Asian male.

And even recently, this sort of dehumanization and emasculation (to kill the male population) is starting to manifest in a different form using a white female heroine to do the slaughter. Movies like Kill Bill and similar recent ones will have the white female lead character take an East Asian weapon and proceed to kill a horde of faceless Asian males.

any AF and WM pairings

While interracial dating? and media depictions of it are not racist or emasculating towards Asian males, it's the complete lack of Asian and Asian American males with other women (or simply just any women) that is. The US media has constant images showing AF and WM in interracial pairings, perhaps even more than reality, and nowhere are AM to be found.

It begs the question of is reality following the media or the media following reality? In either case, AM are simply left out of the picture literally as America goes on to construct an arbitrary image of itself as only interracial harmony between AF and WM.

In this case, it can be argued that this is simply a perpetuation of the bachelor society problem that America has enforced upon Asian males since its earliest days of racism.

Gay Asian males

Again, nothing is inherently wrong with gay Asian males, but with so very few positive and sexual images of Asian males in the US media, recent attempts at depicting AM as gay is further proof of a Hollywood agenda to emasculate Asian males.

While gays can be just as masculine as the Marlboro man, in the popular American consciousness somebody homosexual just isn't thought of as "manly." And this carries over to recent depictions and promoting AM celebrities who are gay.

The controversy this "gay or Asian" article caused has brought to attention the need for the Asian American society to want and have normal sexualized AM depictions — which the racist media makers refuse to acknowledge.

Anglo psychological reasons for the need to oppress Asian and Asian American men through emasculation

Asian American men are often considered to be the closest thing to a financial threat to white men, although white men still earn more on average than Asian American men. Black men, due to hypersexualized stereotypes, are already an established romantic threat to white men but are not considered to be a financial threat. If Asian American men were a romantic threat in addition to what is perceived as a financial threat, then white men would have more competition for females, which is why whites have gone out of their way to emasculate Asian American men. That is not saying they haven't tried to suppress Asian American men as a financial threat, but that topic is discussed further in Societal Issues.


"Are you sticky?"

By Jason Chang
February/March 2001

It was a hot summer evening in Boston almost a decade ago, and I was one of only two Asian men in a crowded, predominantly white gay club. The other guy in the room had been smiling at me all evening and finally came up to make small talk. I was trying to politely convey my lack of interest in him when he asked that strange question.

"Well, yeah," I replied. "It's very hot in here." He laughed and said he wasn't asking about my skin but whether I was attracted to other Asian men -- "Sticky, like sticky rice" he clarified, "rice that clings together." There's "sticky rice," he said, and there are "potato queens" -- Asians who only date white men.

Throughout the age of mass media, mainstream American culture has consistently stereotyped straight Asian American men as asexual and subordinate, thereby denying them their full measure of humanity and masculinity.

What's worse, this stereotyping has not been the product not of a media conspiracy but of the free market in action. Movie studios and TV networks are simply maximizing their profits in response to the overwhelming demand from mass audiences, predominantly white Americans, for content that affirms the sense of entitlement and centrality of white male protagonists at the expense of all others. The racist perception that Asian men are less than "real men" pervades mainstream American culture, and profoundly impacts the life chances and self-image of all Asian American men.

For Asian American activists who join with most progressives in viewing white gay rights advocates as comrades in arms, the accompanying article may come as disappointing news. As Jason Chang has found, the racist subordination of Asian American men -- often internalized as self-hatred -- is endemic not only in mainstream America, but in the counterculture of gay America. Chang has identified an injustice that straight and gay Asian American brothers should challenge together.

-- Andrew Chin

"Oh, I am definitely a potato queen," I replied hastily to dispel any hopes he might have. While keenly aware that he was strikingly good-looking, there was no way I would be interested in him; back then, I wanted a Caucasian boyfriend, preferably one who looked like the male models in GQ. He sighed, "I'm not surprised. So many Asians only want a white boyfriend. I don't know why." He gave me a wan smile and took his leave.

It's been eight years since, but I've never forgotten that conversation because it started me on the road to questioning my racial preferences. They had always been a reflex, not anything I had really thought about until that evening. Why was I attracted only to white men, I asked myself. Why wouldn't I even consider another Asian guy as a potential partner? I'd been attracted to white men since my earliest memory. From my preadolescent crushes to my teen idols, my white knight had always been, well, white. The only Asians I saw on TV or in the movies were houseboys or nerds, and there were certainly no Asian male models in the pages of the fashion magazines my friends and I so fervently perused.

I realized I was not alone in this. Most of the gay Asians I knew would only date white guys, and most of us just accepted this as the norm. But as I looked more deeply into the phenomenon, I was astonished by how widespread it was, at just how huge a percentage of gay Asian men were attracted only to white men.

I thought of how my gay Asian friends and I accepted dates from Caucasian men we weren't even attracted to, just so we could have a white partner. And most of the gay white men we met were not interested in dating Asians. As in heterosexual society, Asian men were considered to be at the absolute bottom in the hierarchy of desirability. It seemed that the only white men who were interested in dating Asians were "rice queens" -- a non-Asian man, usually much older, who dates Asian men exclusively, with a single-minded passion bordering on fetishism and with attendant expectations of how Asians should behave. The white men who could see us as individuals and not stereotypes were few and far between, so we potato queens just took whichever potatoes came our way.

After that night in Boston, though, I became determined to examine my own prejudices against dating Asian men and to fight the lifelong conditioning that had taught me to think of myself and other Asian men as inferior to white men. As my own ethnic self-esteem grew, I found myself becoming more and more attracted to other Asian men. I began looking to meet and chat with other "sticky" Asian men. But they weren't easy to find.

I started noticing that in gay magazines and newsweeklies, almost every personals ad placed by a "GAM" (gay Asian male) was for a "GWM" (gay white male). I observed that while America Online would always have three or more member-created "GAM4GWM" (gay Asian men for gay white men) chat rooms at any time of the day or night, all filled to capacity, there would only be one "GAM4GAM" room that usually only had a handful of participants. It wasn't just that gay Asian men were mainly looking for Caucasian partners, it was also that many were strongly, viscerally opposed to ever dating another Asian.

On AOL, I sent instant messages to literally hundreds of other gay Asians, searched member profiles through the member directory and perused hundreds of personals ads. Most of my IMs to other Asians on AOL were met with stony cybersilence or a one-line "Sorry, not into other Asians" reply. The sad thing was that I wasn't even looking for those who only dated other Asians, just those who would even consider an Asian for a partner. Of 110 personals ads placed by gay Asian men in AOL's Photo Personals section, for example, I counted 54 that had marked "white" or "Latino" in the racial preferences boxes, but excluded "Asian."

In the afterword of the book version of his Tony Award-winning play, M. Butterfly, playwright David Henry Hwang wrote, "In these relationships, the Asian virtually always plays the role of the 'woman'; the Rice Queen, culturally and sexually, is the 'man.' This pattern of relationships has become so codified that, until recently, it was considered unnatural for gay Asians to date one another. Such men would be taunted with a phrase which implied they were lesbians."

The use of the term "lesbian" to identify gay Asian men who are attracted to each other is a stunning indication of how many gay Asian men perceive that only white men are "real" men and that Asian men who date each other are therefore "lesbians" -- two "women" together. Mainstream society's stereotyping of Asian men as feminine is raised to a grotesque level in the gay community.

The pursuit of a white boyfriend is so intense that many gay Asian men would sooner date a much older white male partner than another Asian. Asian and Friends and the Long Yang Club are both social organizations with numerous chapters around the world that are designed for Asian men to meet Caucasian partners. I had attended some of their events in cities from Sydney to New York, and all I saw were 50-something white guys with their 20-something Asian boyfriends.

"I used to wonder what the deal was with these young Asian guy/older white guy couples that I saw all the time," says Patrick, a Caucasian gay male in his 30s who lives in New York and has dated Asians. "When I started getting to know some of them, I found that often the Asian guys were just settling for whatever white guy would have them, and there was usually this economic inequality. Even if the Asian guy was making decent money, there was this inequality in power and status."

This inequality in status between Asians and Caucasians can be seen even in places that cater to gay Asians: The Web, an Asian-owned nightclub in Manhattan, used to allow Caucasian patrons in for free while charging Asians -- the idea being that Caucasian men were more important and desirable, since Asians were going to the club to meet Caucasian partners. The concept is similar to "ladies night" at heterosexual nightspots; women are at a premium, so they get in for free.

At Long Yang Club and Asians and Friends meetings, I chatted with other Asian men and asked them how they think they came to prefer white partners so exclusively. Bert, a 34-year-old Filipino from Boston said, "I just never thought Asian men were beautiful. My God, I certainly never thought of myself as beautiful. I want an all-American boyfriend."

"To be honest, I see other Asian guys as competition," said Paul, a 28-year-old Filipino American. "I can be friends with other Asian guys, but I'll never date them." Chris, a 26-year-old Chinese American living in Philadelphia has also experienced the cold shoulder from other gay Asians. "Many of the Asian guys here don't acknowledge my existence in the bars; they see me as competition for the few white men that are attracted to Asians."

Some potato-only Asians became highly defensive when asked about their exclusive preference for white men. Most said they saw nothing wrong with being attracted only to white men, that it had nothing to do with self-hatred or media conditioning. "And even if I've been conditioned by the media, so what?" asked Matt, a 24-year-old Chinese American New Yorker whose last partner was a 46-year-old Caucasian. "We're all conditioned by the media. I like white men, period."

Interestingly, my chats with Asians around the country and online showed a fairly clear geographic division: gay Asian men in California were significantly more open to dating Asians than gay Asians on the East Coast. Perhaps California's longer history and larger Asian American population have simply provided gay Asians with more Asian men to serve as positive role models and teenage crushes.

We often criticize the mainstream media for turning Asian men into desexualized caricatures, but the situation is much worse in gay culture. "There's already so much emphasis on physical beauty within gay male culture," says Ian, a 36-year-old Asian New Yorker who has had long-term relationships with both whites and Asians. "It's even harder for gay Asian men who do not fit the very narrow standard of what is considered desirable -- the muscle-bound, hyper-masculine look." Ian now describes himself as "very sticky," but he'd count himself in the minority. "The fact is most white men are not attracted to Asian men, and worse, Asian men are not attracted to each other."

As a reformed potato queen myself, one for whom race is now the least important factor in whom I date and love, I am optimistic that there's hope for us all. As Asian Americans assert themselves more in the media and as the number of real-life role models increase, I believe that more gay Asian men will be able to realize that they can be as beautiful, sexy, attractive and desirable as any blond-haired, blue-eyed hunk.


Negociating Social Stigma Among Gay Asian Men

It has long been argued that stereotypes have led many gay Asian men to have negative feelings about themselves and other gay Asians, to the idealization of white men as potential partners, hostility towards other gay Asians, internalization of the stereotypes as passive and submissive, and being sexually objectified by some white men. To counter the effects of the stereotypes, critics and theorists of the gay Asian experience suggest increasing the visibility of Asian role models in the gay community, developing a strong sense of self-identity by choosing Asian men as potential partners, and encouraging involvement with the mainstream gay community. In contrast, we explore resistance to the stereotypes at a personal level, using narratives obtained through a series of interviews to analyze the ways in which gay Asian men negotiate and (re)frame the social stigma associated with their bodies and desire for white men. We argue that gay Asian men do not simply accept the negative stereotypes imposed by the dominant culture; rather, they actively resist and continuously reconstruct meanings about their bodies and desires.


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On this page are third-party educational resources that may serve as a starting point to generate greater cultural awareness and exchange of multicultural ideas. Asians & Friends Denver is not responsible for content and the following is for informative, education purposes only.

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