Sunday, February 14, 2010

V-Day Event! Q-Team Presents Night of Bad (Performance Art)

"You don't have to date us, just commit to 1 night..."

Q-Team provides "a space for trans and queer youth of color, ages 12 -25 years old to showcase their experience, creativity, and struggles."

I'll be reading some poetry in a short 5-minute set.

My last encounter with Q-Team was when they held an event in a space downstairs from the Da Capo buildings on Main Street in 2008 (when I lived there).

qteam's founding members include youth who identify as immigrants, refugees, poor and working class, womyn (born and self identified), differently abled, and spiritual. qteam exists to challenge and resist the many interlocking systems of oppressions through multi-issue, grassroots organizing. qteam is committed to building and sustaining safe physical and political spaces for the empowerment of young people by advancing and supporting their natural leadership abilities through education and the promotion of wellness and self-care.
I'm looking forward to connecting and community with queer & trans youth of color at this event. Such spaces, I believe, are revolutionary.


Night of Bad (Shifting Cultures, One Bad* Performance at a time)

Minority AIDS Project
5147 W. Jefferson blvd.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


*Bad as defined by Urban Dictionary definition #2!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Queer & Vietnamese & NOT Invisible: LGBTQIA Contingent in Tet Parade

Okay, so this is not directly Los Angeles-related, but it's something I have to write about because I grew up not far from, and went to high school in, the heart of Little Saigon.

In case you didn't know, I'm queer, Asian, and female. Fun, right? Especially in Orange County! 

I'm Khmer. I never went to the Tet Festival, and the barricades that went up in preparation for the Tet Parade were a nuisance to getting to class on time. Despite having many Vietnamese friends and growing up in a Vietnamese community, I didn't participate in these affairs. 

This year, I'll be going down to attend the parade for the first time ever. Why? Because for the first time ever, Vietnamese LGBTQA organizations are going to participate in the parade

This is huge. So often it feels like those of us who live in the intersection of sexuality and race (as in those of us who are not white and not straight) find ourselves having to choose-- not always consciously, at times very consciously-- between our racial identity and our sexual identity, depending on the spaces that we're in. I and many of my peers have had that experience of feeling that our queer selves are invisible when we are with our families or in Asian American spaces. 

On Saturday, a contingent of Vietnamese lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally folks are going to do something amazing: they are going to be visible during the Tet Parade & Festival

They've been met with opposition from councilmembers such as Andy Quach, who said in a press release to Vietnamese newspapers:  
This is an unfortunate event but as the city official and president of the Tet Parade organization I can not prevent it from happening. As an individual, I protest the participation of this group in the traditional and full-of-joy celebration of the Vietnamese people.
and from the conservative Vietnamese church community, who have told their members to stay away from the parade in protest of LGBT participation, stating that
During Tet, we don’t bring up ugly matters, anything unseemly in the family we hide it away, we only bring out what’s good.
I was profoundly angry when I read of Andy Quach's statement, and deeply upset with the church community's reaction.That Vietnamese LGBTQ people should be scorned for simply wanting to be wholly themselves and wholly visible during the "celebration of the Vietnamese people" is outrageous. That queerness is an "ugly matter" or "unseemly" is incredibly frustrating.

When I came out to friends in high school, I was surprised by my Catholic Vietnamese friends-- they were fully accepting of me. It wasn't an issue. I was so glad that despite growing up in a conservative community, my experience coming out was pretty uneventful. My friend Andrew brought up a great point on Facebook:
are Catholics any more accurate representations ...of Vietnamese heritage... an organized religion that was inducted in the last 150 years due to French Imperialism. Let's go for a more inclusive rather than divisive model of culture identity and community PEOPLE!
I can't help thinking about the first time I encountered API PFLAG (Asian Pacific-Islander Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) in the Long Beach Pride Parade when I was a student at UC Irvine. I ran up to Asian mom Ellen Kameya and hugged her-- I could have cried at seeing that an Asian parent could be so accepting, loving, supportive of her child's right to love.

I want to show the members of those churches the documentary In God's House, which focuses on Asian American Lesbian & Gay families in the church (consequently, Ellen Kameya is one of the subjects of the film).

Silence and invisibility are a great source of pain. So is lack of tolerance, and lack of effort to understand. These Vietnamese LGBTQA organizations are incredibly brave to participate in the Tet Parade and say "We won't be invisible any more; we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer AND Vietnamese, we are a part of this community, too."

So I am going to go down to Westminster early in the morning on Saturday to show my support, love, and solidarity.

This passage from an email from one of the LGBTQIA organizers is inspiring: 
Let's counter hate with LOVE! Make heart signs about love, family, community, and unity. March peacefully and look respectfully. Do not counter hate with hate, because they would win. We will smile as they curse at us. They must be suffering a lot if they have nothing better to do than to create pain and suffering for others. We will breathe in deeply and breathe out love and compassion. This will calm us and guide us in confronting hatred. If people hurl things at us, please dodge. Bring an umbrella as a shield, just in case. If the police has a problem with preventing violence, please try your best to run away and not hit back, because if we do, this will be all they need to dismiss us and prevent us from marching next year. We must practice peace to transform prejudices and discrimination. Love and understanding will lead us to touch and change lives. The possible violence is the worst case scenario though. So, let's hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. We'll be the new civil rights movement in Little Saigon. 

(In the midst of this, I hope that the mainstream LGBTQIA community remembers not to scapegoat people of color for the passage of Proposition 8 or for homophobia in general-- racist people are already not-cute, racist queer people are REALLY not-cute... just as homophobic people of color are... you get the point. Hating in general is just not-cute.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rethinking Los Angeles Driving

On July 1st last year, my reluctant quest to become a car-owner again ended with my acquisition of an automobile and the requisite insurance policy. Mostly, I wasn't very happy about having a car-dependent lifestyle again, especially after having articulated my passion for making it car-free in Los Angeles.

I've adjusted again, as many people who live and drive in Los Angeles must. It takes a shift in thinking. Of course, this doesn't mean being complacent about a world where we create so much pollution just to get around in our own big chunks of metal (some prettier than others), but it does mean perhaps shifting to a kinder, gentler view of our fellow commuters.

Everyone is just trying to get around, and I honestly don't believe the ass-holery that we see on the road is often intentional. I thought about how I have no idea how many times I've done things that frustrated others on the road, and how many times I have made moves that were embarrassing and probably annoyed people. To avoid becoming too jaded, angry, overwhelmed by all the traffic mishaps, I've had to learn to be forgiving. Driving Angelenos might be a much more understanding, forgiving people than we realize. Drive from East LA to Santa Monica on a Friday during rush hour and see.

In the end, the person in the car that cut you off is as much a person as you are; equally human, equally imperfect (though at the moment you might think them much moreso).

Compassion is a great coping mechanism.

Image from alforque

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Left in the Meter

Parking meters. Hate them. Especially when, in many parts of the city, the rates are as high as $3 per hour. It's scary that we can now pay for metered parking with credit cards. How much more expensive are these things going to get? Hideous.

I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but when I put too much change in a meter and come back well before it's up, I get a bit frustrated. I get this feeling that I should stick around just to get my money's worth or something. Weird, I know.

I did that today, but it was after arriving at a meter that already had time in it. And I remembered how happy--almost giddy-- I get when I park at a meter and find that there's still time on it.

So I let go of my annoyance at spending a quarter needlessly, knowing that the next person who parked in that spot would experience that same pleasant surprise and (hopefully) goodwill toward the universe that I felt when I found time left on the meter.

Image by get directly down

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

1% For Art, Too Much For LA City Council?

LA City Council is voting this morning on whether to cut the 1% of Transient Occupancy Tax which goes to grant funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs.

From Arts For LA:

Wednesday's City Council meeting will begin at 10am and will be located at

John Ferraro Council Chamber
Room 340, City Hall
200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

A valid photo ID is required for entrance into the Council Chamber.

The Council Chamber doors may be closed shortly after 9a.m. due to capacity issues.  Therefore, you may not be able to get into the room and may be turned away.  Please plan to arrive early if you are attending.

If you decide not to attend, you can follow @Arts4LA on Twitter, check for updates.  We will be updating frequently.  You can also watch the City Council meeting on the City Council website.

Over 4,000 letters have been sent to City Council members. This initial action sent a resounding message to our city leadership that the arts are part of our economic recovery.

Over 150 arts professionals have also signed up to provide public testimony on tomorrow's motion to remove the dedicated funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs.

The meeting is going to be a zoo.  Arts is one of many special interest groups including the Environment, Disability Rights and Neighborhood Councils that is vying for support.

Seating will be extremely limited and city council will limit access due to capacity issues, meaning if you are allowed in the room, you may not be able to get out for several hours. Council will reduce the amount of time each participant can speak to 60 seconds and limit the number of people giving public comment.

Therefore, we ask that you attend the meeting as a visible demonstration of support - not necessarily to provide testimony.  We encourage you to come and to WEAR RED.  

Come on, Los Angeles, art is integral in building the identity of a city and a community. What does cutting support to the arts (not to mention education) while increasing the police force say about LA's priorities?