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Brady Berg: Hey everyone welcome to the QT cast a podcast, ... a new podcast hosted by the staff and students involved with the Cal Poly Pride Center. My name is Brady Berg, I use he/him/his pronouns, I am a biomedical engineering and math double major at Cal Poly in my third year, and I work with the Living Learning Communities at the Pride Center as a student assistant.
Abigail Wilkins: Hi everyone, I'm Abigail Wilkins - I use she/her and they/them pronouns. I'm a second-year graphic communication major with a concentration in design reproduction technology and a minor in English I am a… (pause)
Brady: Core program assistant.
Abigail: Thank you I am a core program student assistant at the Pride Center and a fun fact about me is that I write fantasy novels.
Declan Galli: Hi, everyone, my name is Declan Galli I use he/him pronouns I'm a first year city and regional planning major here at Cal Poly and in the pride Center I am an intern and a cool fact about me that I sing in choirs.
Brady: So let's talk a little bit about what we're here to do. Our goal is to help create and sustain a sense of community within the LGBTQ+ community at Cal Poly and SLO even as we are distinctly separated. Bi-weekly we plan to chat about topics of queer interest or put a queer spin on some broader social topics, while also doing some news updates and talking about fun events that we're going to be putting on - and I don't know queer people love to talk about pop culture, right? So we'll do some of that too. You want to talk about some of the topics that we have coming up?
Abigail: Yeah! We're really excited for this podcast. We've been working together as a staff to really make sure that this podcast can be the best that it can be. I'm really excited for say talking about things like queer history, queer families, coming out journeys, allyship, anti-blackness and then like maybe some educational episodes on different queer identities where we explore what these identities mean and go a little more in depth.
Brady: This podcast should be a really great opportunity to give people a platform to voice their experiences and talk about how they've experienced being queer and trans in SLO and at Cal Poly and just in their lives broadly so we're we're really excited to host this space and we plan to debut our first episode - our full episode on May 1st 2020 at the beginning of Cal Poly Pride Month this year.
Declan: You can follow us on the web at bit.ly/qtcast!
Brady: Okay, that's it for now! Thanks for listening, we are excited to talk to you in the future...what's a good sign off?
Declan: I don't know.
Abigail: Thank you everyone!
Declan: What's that - what's that little piggy thing that they do - the like that da da da - like, you know, like that - I don't know.
Brady: That's all folks!
Declan: I don't know
Abigail: Catch you later guys, gals and non-binary pals!
Declan: That one's good.
Brady: Love that.
Declan: I love that.
Brady: That’s very cute.
Abigail Wilkins: Queer to begin?
Bella Matthews: Queer to begin?
Declan Galli: Queer to begin?
Brady: My name is Brady Berg, I use he/him/his pronouns, and I am a gay that can do math, I dare say.
Bella: Ohh, good job.
Declan: My name is Declan Galli and I am a gay that can do math as well...? Sometimes.
Bella: What are your pronouns, Declan?
Declan: Oh I use he/him. Oops, sorry.
Brady: You're good.
Bella: Oh, I'm Bella and I’m a gay that can do it all, sorry folks.
Brady: You're powerful.
Declan: Break the rules.
Bella: Sorry, there's no room for being humble here.
Abigail: Hey everyone, my name is Abigail, my pronouns are they/them and she/her and I'm a gay that can cook!
Brady: Love that. Provide in these trying times for your family.
Brady: Okay, so today what we're gonna talk about is a basic topic - we're just gonna - well, basic and not so basic, theoretically - we're just gonna talk about, broadly, what queer means to us, and how we see that used in our lives and in like society and culture. So, we can talk first about - so like, we know that queer has meant things before it was used to identify people that were non-cisgender and non-heterosexual, and it technically, like if you Google it, then it just says that that the definition is “strange or odd,” or as a verb, “to ruin or to spoil,” so that's... What a treat, what a treat that word is. And it began being used as a pejorative, so an insulting word against queer people in the late 19th century, but it's changed significantly since then, so how do we see it now used in media and otherwise?
Abigail: My dad was an english major, and my mom was an english minor, so growing up I was, like, in a very, like, you read lots of literature kind of household so I, like, definitely got a lot of the more historical definition of queer just in my everyday vocabulary growing up, and so it's definitely been a shift as like I discovered and became involved with the queer community to like explore the um full definition of the word as it relates to us.
Declan: For me, like the word queer like I guess I never had that, like, just let's learn about the word it was just, like, school was just like, that is a naughty word that's kind of, like, it was my relationship with that word. It was just like, “naughty word! you don't say that,” and then like especially later in high school and now freshman (of College) year I've started to kind of figure out that word actually now means and, I don't know, how we reclaim it.
Bella: Yeah when I was younger, it was kind of the same for me as it was with Declan. Like, my parents would use it, or people would use it to be like oh you're, like, an outsider, you don't belong, like, you're weird, like, it's gross. And it was, like, a whole process for me to reclaim it as, like, I belong in this community, like I am - like, what's so bad about being queer? What's - there's nothing wrong with it. Not being, like, fitting in the system of oppression of heteronormativity and other types of systems of oppression - that's okay!
Bella: Why not love yourself for being out of the standard of society so it's...yeah. I had to do the whole reclaiming process, and I still kind of am. Because sometimes you see it on media, especially like historical shows, and they use it and you're like,
Bella: I know. Yeah, I know it doesn't - I know it's a little different in this historical context but, yeah.
Declan: Definitely with more older media, like, even - I love Friends, but, like, Friends used it a couple of times...
Brady: Oh, Friends.
Declan: Like, Friends - Friends, I mean I liked Friends, okay I loved friends when I watched it. I haven't watched it in a while, but yeah, Friends, it's, oof, got some...
Brady: The number of straight friends that I have had recommend that I watch Friends…
Brady: ...is absolutely ridiculous.
Bella: The same people that are like, “you should watch friends” are the people that are like, “you should watch the office,” and you're like, “yeah okay, when I see myself on screen I'll watch it,” but…
Bella: I'm not down for 10 seasons of a heterosexual couple being called quirky for falling in love with each other, like, I'm not into it. It's like, “sorry!”
Declan: I totally agree with like the office and all those early 2000s, like, 90s shows it's like - the gay jokes and the - I don't know, that I feel like was the ultimate height, maybe not, but of - the queer - using the word queer in that that way, and...
Bella: Yeah, and especially when they make, like, ass jokes or something, and it's
Bella: Like you're - you're not doing it. Like yeah, yeah.
Declan: And then when you're heteronormative friends are like, “you don't like Friends? That's offensive,” like…
Brady: I got news for you, buddy.
Declan: Yeah, got news.
Bella: Yeah. What about you, Brady? What about you?
Brady: Interestingly I - I don't think I really encountered the word queer until, like, until college. I really did not come in - like in my life I was not - no one ever called me it or anything, or I was like okay it's fine. But I, like, really started thinking about the word when I took english 382 last spring, which is affectionately called in the catalog “LGBT literature and media,” but my professor wanted to call it “queer and trans literature and media” because as we talked a lot in the class, reclaiming the word queer has a lot to do with trying to claim an identity that is not heterosexual and not cisgender, but also not diseased. Because words like homosexual and bisexual and transsexual or transgender were all used to like codify these identities as, like, disease states when they were first, you know, conceived. So they were all like entries in the DSM, the diagnostic and statistical manual for psychological disorders. So using the word queer was a way for a lot of people to be, like, “okay, I am not what you say is normal, but I am also not wrong because I am not in your category.” So I thought that that was really interesting and that's why I like really started to latch on to the term because I was like, “yeah, I support that, I like that queer usage as an argument there.”
Abigail: That is such a fun tidbit! I didn't know that.
Declan: I really loved that. That's so cool because I guess I didn’t make the connection like that homosexual and like transgender and all those words - I don't know if transgender was in them, the whatever - but like - those words like when someone says them, I don't know I feel like they're weird.
Brady: Yeah, they feel clinical.
Declan: They feel clinical, they feel - I'm like, “oh that's so clinical,” and like I never feel good about describing those words so like.
Bella: Yeah, especially when like your cis-het friends are saying like, “oh, like, you're homosexual,” and you're like, “what?” Like, I know it's not a slur but, like, you should not - don't call me that.
Brady: Yeah, that’s not what we do now.
Abigail: The first step is not to say that any one label or identity is better, or less good, or any of that, because you are the only person who can choose which labels are right for you.
Bella: Yeah that's so true, Abigail. Everyone has like a right to reclaim an identity that they want, just queer was used for people that wasn't comfortable with these words but like every - anyone that uses any identity is so valid. I identify as lesbian, not queer, very clearly because I had to go through so much to, like, define who I am and see who I am and my sexuality as a part of who i am that I don't feel the need to, like, express my sexuality through like fluidity and through like the term queer because I found lesbian and it is so freeing to me to be a part of like a label and like a group of people that like absolutely love and adore women and other like lesbian-identified people and like it's so freeing, because like to finally know who I am and to understand that at a deeper level it has been like absolutely eye-opening to me and like I feel like it seemed to other people, from when I first was questioning my sexuality and went from bisexual, queer, gay, to lesbian, like that whole process is a part of who I am and I love - like, labels for me helped me figure out who I am so like labels are important for people, and not important for people, but it's where you choose you want. Like where you want to put yourself on.
Brady: That makes me smile.
Bella: And it's up to you.
Abigail: Bella you are so pure, you're so adorable.
Bella: Thank you, I adore you too. Yeah, so it's up - it's up to each person where they, what they want to use, and they don't have to use anything at all they don't even have to use queer and they can come up with a new word it's up to you, like you are the only one that's in charge of yourself and your label and that's got to be respected and loved, because each person - there's no one life of a queer person, there's no like one idea of what queer is and we have to like acknowledge that and like see the intersectionality of people.
Abigail: And then, also like, labels often do like shift and change over time. Like, when I first came out, I started - identified as bi and then I moved to using the label pan, and that one stuck for a really long time, and lately I've kind of been questioning it a lot and I think that I definitely fall both under the pan umbrella and the ace umbrella. And like I'm just like okay, cool and I like queer as well…
Abigail: ...because, like, that like allows me the wiggle room to like, have all these different labels and still have them all feel comfortable for me at the same time.
Brady: Yeah, yeah.
Brady: Language is powerful, y'all.
Bella: It is powerful.
Bella: Anyways, it's lesbian visibility on the 26th, so…
Declan: We see you!
Brady: We see you!
Declan: You are alive.
Bella: Thank you, I will be posting a lot on that thing so be ready for that.
Brady: I'll be ready; I'll have my Instagram at the ready.
Bella: Thank you.
Abigail: I really like the term queer just because it's kind of like, doesn't have the set definition for what types of attraction can and cannot be queer, and as a perpetually questioning non-binary that is such a good thing.
Brady: It’s gold.
Bella: I was reading this article and research paper where they were researching, like, college women and like woman-identified non-binary folks that when they go to college how, like, the term queer is a lot more accepting because they feel more like they're able to be more sexually fluid and it's just about their desire not about like the gender and like they're allowed to like express themselves without labeling themselves. I thought like - like a lot of college women, once they like like enter like more academic fields and like activist fields - they tend to lean more towards queer which I thought was really interesting.
Brady: Yeah I think the flexibility of the word is one of like, its biggest calling points to me, too. I was, well how do I - I was trying to, like, pin myself down percentage-wise on like the scale of like homosexuality - to bi - to heterosexuality and I was like, this is… This ain't it, this is not what I want to be doing with my life. I'm just queer, I'm just - I'm just something else, and that's what we're gonna do, that’s what we’re gonna go with.
Bella: There needs to be new quizzes for like pre-teens to look up, like, “are you queer?” instead of, “are you, like, am I gay?” you know.
Declan: You should create one. We could do that, yeah. Like, can you drive?
Bella: Yeah, that’s our next project for the next recording.
Declan: Can you do math? Can you - what's the last one - can you spell?
Declan: I can’t spell.
Bella: It's also “can you do astrology? Can you cook?”
Declan: Oh, I can cook, but I can't do astrology.
Brady: No, all I know is that I'm a cancer and that I cry.
Declan: I don't -
Abigail: I don't know much about astrology, I just know that I'm a zodiac and if you do like the birth chart thing like the first five things are all zodiac and when I told someone who did astrology they asked me if I was okay.
Brady: Okay, let's take a short break to do some news updates and then we'll come back for our second session of queer talk.
Brady: Okay, first order of business - we have a newsletter! All the cross-cultural centers at the Cal Poly - at Cal Poly - at the Cal Poly, I don't know why I said that - have a newsletter. You can subscribe at culture.calpoly.edu by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on newsletter.
Abigail: We also um wanted to shout out our social media! We have instagram, twitter, and snapchat, which you can follow instagram @calpolypridecenter and twitter and snapchat @cppridecenter and we also - you can watch the podcast with video of our lovely lovely faces on youtube!
Declan: We wanted to shout out our queers - we're doing this series called queers in quarantine throughout the rest of the spring quarter to keep us all engaged. So our upcoming queers in quarantine events - wait, I have the page here…
Bella: I got it. On May 1st we have a queer movie night that Declan is hosting. On May 8th there's a steven universe watch party that Bella is hosting, that’s me. On May 15th there's a queer trivia night that I'm not sure who is hosting yet but we'll find out. May 22nd there's a movie screening still to be decided, then May 24th there's pans in the kitchen with Abigail.
Abigail: In honor of pan-sexual and pan-romantic visibility day we'll be doing simple allergen free recipes!
Brady: Love it.
Abigail: We also want to make sure you all know that there are transcripts for this podcast available also at culture.calpoly.edu look under the pride section for podcast.
Brady: Or you can use the link bit.ly/qtcast to take you right there.
Brady: So back to talking about queer. What are some complexities that we need to consider when we're using it?
Abigail: One thing that I like think about a lot is it just feels to me like there's kind of a different connotation when a straight cisgender person uses the word queer to describe our community than when we use it, and I don't know how I would reconcile that. But I don't know, do you all feel that?
Bella: Yeah there's also like the historical influence where people like cis-het people use it as an insult...
Abigail: Yeah, exactly.
Bella: ...use it in the same connotation as the f slur and like it's kind of hard, like yeah I get what you mean it's definitely a different feeling because when like...
Bella: Yeah, yeah, go queers! And then when like they're like “oh yeah I'm like studying queers and queer studies” it's like,
Bella: “Ooh, like what what do you - what do you mean?”
Abigail: Yeah, like on the one hand like it does kind of carry like more of a history and connotations when a straight cisgender person says it, but on the other hand as we reclaim this word its use is steadily growing to the point where at what point does it become unreasonable to ask people not to use this word.
Declan: To me, I think it's like - I'm not, I don't know if “appropriate” but like I'm very much - I don't like it when people like say the word like queers or like use it as a a label, an ascribed label to like, ascribe it to people, like an individual but like like
Brady: Yeah, yeah, it has to look like the power of the person that's saying it in terms of the people that they’re referencing.
Declan: I think it’s okay-er to say, “I'm in a queer studies class and I'm learning about the queer community in general and less - because like the history of that word has been to use it as an insult to a singular person, usually.
Bella: Yeah I think it's like - I don't know, you definitely gotta make sure that everyone's comfortable with it, especially if you're a cis-het, and how, like, how you can you - you should be able to always willingly like talk about how you can better navigate a space and navigate like your language to like, better, like, make more people comfortable. Like, if someone - a queer person calls me queer, I'm like, “I'm down, like, it's okay, it's all good,” but when like a cis-het person calls me queer I'm like, “That's not my label, don't give me that label.” Like you can't - you're putting your opinion and influence onto someone else that might not want it. Like, it’s a personal choice.
Brady: Yeah, yeah - there are a lot of people that like - especially in the older non-cishet community - there are a lot of people that have like very traumatic associations with the word queer, and figuring out a way that we can both reclaim that word into modern usage but while also being conscious of the fact that like it's very possible that the word queer is triggering to a lot of people in our community is a really interesting and challenging problem to try and overcome.
Bella: Also like, when we reclaim the word how - how are we reclaiming it because sometimes I see like like straight people using queer to like talk about their heteronormative relationship, and how do we like -
Bella: Like, because the word queer was like anything that was not, like, missionary sex and like heteronormative, like, heterosexuality - man, woman, - feminine woman in the household, like masculine man, like, working - so like people are now using that term to like talk about, like, “oh, my relationship is queer because it is like it's an interracial relationship,” or like “it's two different religions” or like a whole bunch of different things. How do we like, you know, like where is that term like where is it going and like how are we gonna, how are we using it.
Abigail: Because of its history of being used to target the LGBTQ+ community specifically, it makes the most sense as we reclaim it that it would also pretty much just apply to the LGBTQ+ community because it still does carry that history and those connotations.
Brady: I think it's - I think the agency in reclaiming it belongs to the people that were oppressed by the word, so as people that were labeled as queer, we can choose to grab onto that label and flip it around and use it however we want to. But if you weren't necessarily targeted by the word, then trying to appropriate it is, yeah, stepping - stepping outside of your bounds.
Abigail: Like, yes, breaking through other oppressive boundaries in our society is an amazing thing but don't take a word that is specifically used in these ways and by these people and take it.
Declan: Yeah and that goes for any word, definitely by any marginalized community, and we can think of them all it's like...
Bella: Specifically for the word like dyke has been used against me and like other lesbians and that word is only allowed to be reclaimed by lesbians because it was only used against lesbians or wlw I guess but like specifically lesbians that are only in women that love women relationships and are not, like, bound by heteronormativity. It’s like yours, you can only reclaim a word that is a part of you and a part of your label and a part of how you identify. It's like queers can only take upon queer as their own if they want to and like yeah, like the f-slur, dyke, like those are only allowed for like specific groups and they can only be reclaimed. Like, if even another fellow LGBTQ person calls me a dyke, I'd be offended, because that's still a slur coming out of their mouth because it's a word that's only been affected to like my community like my group.
Abigail: That was really well said - and also this is so off-topic but I just noticed your shirt and it is beautiful and i love it.
Bella: Thank you, it’s from Dallas, Texas.
Brady: Okay, let's wrap up our discussion on queer by talking just briefly about this thing called queer theory - like what even do we mean when we say queer theory or queer studies?
Bella: Feel free to like add in whatever, but queer theory is like - the definition is basically impossible because it encompasses all of like queer perspectives and like queering different ideas and types of media, but queer theory is like political action and theory it's a way to like move beyond systems of oppression and, like, view things in a queer perspective if that makes sense. It's not just about studying like sexuality or gender, it's about how queer people and LGBTQ people, trans people, etc. can go across heteronormative bounds and across systems of oppression and continue to fight for, like, fight for their rights, kind of. But yeah, it's like queer theory is like shared experiences and how you navigate an identity and the world while being a part of an identity. Feel free to add anything, I’m not sure that was enough.
Brady: That was a very good explanation. Okay, I think even you used the word queering in your explanation - used it as a verb, which is something that not everyone may have heard before. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Bella: Yeah, queering is using a queer perspective to change what would normally be like normative or like cis-het or anything that is a part of a system of oppression and like changing it to how queer people would see it. Like, a very, like, widely known example is, like, Mulan, and how like that's kind of a cis-het story for a lot of people, but like LGBTQ people, especially Asian LGBTQ people have queered it to see as like a story of their own, like of their own people. So it's how we change things to kind of see it in our perspective, and it's also like a lot of things have queer underlying, like, subtext, but it's hard to see it if you are not looking for it so queering is a way to, like, change it for people to see that actual queer subtext.
Brady: Queering Mulan is my favorite weekend activity.
Brady: You can listen to us - find all the places that you can listen to us, and watch us, and read our transcripts and stuff at bit.ly/qtcast.
Brady: May is APIDA history and heritage month so we're almost certainly going to be talking about gaysians - queer people and trans people that identify the Asian label and variants thereof - in the future, so if you want to suggest a topic for us to discuss, you can email us at email@example.com, and otherwise...we will talk to you soon!
Abigail: Catch you later, guys, gals, and non-binary pals!
Brady Berg: Hey everyone. Welcome to the second episode of the QT Cast! This time we're going to be talking about queer and trans people that also identify with being Asian! In honor of APIDA heritage month this May. My name is Brady. I use he/him/his pronouns, and I still claim that I am a gay that can do math.
Bella Matthews: Hi. I'm Bella. She/her/hers. I'm a student assistant at the pride center and I'm a Korean lesbian and I am a gay that can drive.
Olivia Tran: I'm Olivia. Olivia Tran. She/her/hers. I am a coordinator at the gender equity center. The coordinator. I don’t know why I said like - And I wish y'all would stop flexing because I can neither do math nor drive.
I did - my fun fact is actually that I failed my license test six times.
Brady Berg: Six?
Bella Matthews: How?
Olivia Tran: I wish I knew, Bella!
Bella Matthews: If you ever need driving lessons… I do have a Subaru.
Olivia Tran: Oh my God.
Astrid Yu: Well, hello, I'm Astrid. She/her/hers, and I am a gay who can only do math. Nothing else! Fun fact, actually: today is actually - it's one year since I realized I was trans, so I made an omelet because egg cracking.
Brady Berg: Love that for you.
Amber Jaitrong: Hi, everyone. My name is Amber. I use any pronouns. Um, I'm a student assistant at the multicultural center, and I am an engineer, but I also can't drive, so a combo. I have a driver’s license, but I have great anxiety about driving. So I gotta go back to driving school.
Olivia Tran: We can go to Bella’s driving school.
Amber Jaitrong: Please
Bella Matthews: I’ll have one for only gays.
Brady Berg: We are large. We contain multitudes.
Brady Berg: Alright, so today, like I said, we're going to be talking about how we've experienced being Asian and part of the LGBTQ+ community, and you know, adjacent topics. So, I don't know, does anyone want to share particular parts of their experience of being Asian and queer and trans, and how maybe those identities have intersected for you over the course of your life?
Amber Jaitrong: I guess I thought of something just now - it just came - was where - So I'm mixed. Mixed race. I'm Thai, Indigenous and, and white and like my, my tribe is Patawomeck but I'm so I'm mixed right. And I had - a memory came where I remember, this is a little bit of trauma, I guess. My, I was like, mom, I don't know what I am. Do I like girls? I was like fifth grade? She was like, I don't know, but no matter what, like whatever you are, like either like one side - like boys or girls. And I was like, [screaming]. Sorry mom. She's good, she's good now. But like. You know, just like dang, like me being mixed and then also me being like queer, where like, I don't know if I say I'm bi, but like me just being like everything just really makes my identity confusing. You know, like all the confusion I'm in every single pot. So I don't know. That's where I thought of what thinking about this was like. Being part of all the things it definitely leaves me feeling sometimes confused or like I saw a meme where it was like my identity [screams]. So it's like a weird rant. It wasn't fully formed. You can edit this out.
Brady Berg: It was lovely, Amber. Thank you for sharing.
Olivia Tran: I think that definitely, like, it really resonates. Even as someone who is like monoracial Vietnamese and identifying as queer, like you really feel that like pull from all directions to like choose something. Right? So like, I can't imagine how much more that's amplified, like by being mixed race as well as also having these, like, multiple parts of your identity. Because like the queer Asian experience for me at least has been one where like, it felt very almost like non-existent. Like I felt like I didn't have a lot of people to like look to, to like base my experiences on. And so I always felt like I was like the first one who was like defining all of these things for myself. And so in a lot of spaces it felt like, you know, like I can talk about like being Asian in this space and I can talk about like being gay in this space, but like. Where are the people like me who share both experiences and where is that like sort of represented? Where can I see it? Where do I like have elders almost who I can like follow in the path of? So I think that's definitely like a feeling that I can relate to.
Amber Jaitrong: Yeah.
Astrid Yu: For me it's like, I feel like actually, like so. I'm, um, both my parents are immigrants and like, they, the values, like they want me to like, have a family, to have a stable life. But the thing is, it's like, at the same time, being queer is also like that, that's very hard. And like, and like, it's. I don't know it, it almost feels like they're kind of at odds with each other in a way. I mean, I have found some very good role models. Actually Audrey Tang, she is a trans woman, Taiwanese programmer, and like, just look her up on Wikipedia. She's like, actually like. But yeah, it does feel like my identities are at odds with each other. Especially like, cause my parents, like my mom, she doesn't accept me, really, so.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. I feel you like with everything everyone said, it's like. I also felt like I was the first Asian ever to be gay because you don't see, like you don't have anyone to look up to that is both gay and Asian, especially if your family is like not accepting of you. So you never are like given experiences or given like direction or like any type of like talk about like. How, like there's a world of possibilities that you could be open to and like, like as for my, like family, like they're like very cis-sexist or homophobic and they like, they don't believe it's a thing. Like you can't be Asian and that like, that's. Yeah. If you do that, you're like a deviant. You're not like performing to your nuclear family role. And I think it's just like the Asian community just has a long way to grow, like grow in terms of like being accepting
Astrid Yu: Like low key, one of the things holding me back at the very beginning of my questioning, like, I mean it dropped pretty quickly afterwords, but like it was kind of like, I felt like, oh, well being queer is a bit like a white person thing. I don't know that, that was just how I felt, I guess from how I was socialized.
Brady Berg: Yeah. Getting any kind of representation of queerness or transness in media is already hard, but then trying to also find representation of Asian queer and trans people is like, It's, it's an entirely different challenge.
Olivia Tran: Yeah.
Bella Matthews: And Amber, I also relate to the mixed race thing. Like, being mixed race. It’s hard to find which one you belong in kind of cause it's like always like, am I more this, am I more that. And then like having to add in, like being like a part of the LGBT community.
Brady Berg: Yeah. I - I'm also, I'm half Chinese and half white and one of the things like, when I was first coming out, I was like, like I'm a very mathematical, very mathematical person, so I was trying to pin myself down on this bisexuality scale, like percentage wise. I was like - am I, like 75/25, am I 85/15?
Olivia Tran: We get it Brady, you do math!
Astrid Yu: Let sexuality be a vector in R-space.
Brady Berg: Hate it. But this was like really interesting to try and reconcile all of that because, a lot of times I'd also been like, like I have had like quote unquote “pure” Asian friends that like were fully fluent in like Korean or whatever, and they would like, they like had an Asian - more like, more of an Asian culture to - more of an Asian community to be a part of. And I was like, outside of that, I was like, well, I dunno what's going on. And then also feeling like an outsider in like, well, can I identify as gay or do I identify as this or what, what does my identity count as? Is it, is it this “enough” to identify as that. Like we - like as being Asian as well. I've experienced a lot of like, am I POC “enough” to be talking in like a space for people of color and like that's a whole other box of worms, especially with being, but yeah, it's, it's a very complicated instance.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. Like in POC spaces, is it like, “are you POC?” and then in white spaces, like you're definitely not white, so you're just like floating around
Olivia Tran: Like, I don't really think like a lot of, like Asian communities and like groups I guess, like I've had this issue where it's like, “how Asian are you?” And like. These ways that are like completely arbitrary and trying to like quantify like how like authentic you are to our culture. And so yeah, it doesn't really help anyone, but yeah, especially with like all the other different parts of identity to consider.
Amber Jaitrong: And for me what's interesting is like. The indigenous community is always, you know, accepted me. It was never like, “Oh, are you enough?” Because always in histories for, indigenous folks, especially in the occupied United States area, like the United States has always tried to quantize how much we are like by doing the blood quantum. So like the community is like, no, we're just going to accept you. Like we're not about that. But then. In the Asian communities, I wonder if it's because of the things of like professional foreigner, but then also like trying to assimilate. Like the things we're talking about - I'm like, it's so interesting where things have, like I'm thinking of like assimilation to whiteness because of being seen as a perpetual foreigner. Then I'm also thinking like, and then I still really think about like, Astrid, what you said about like, Oh, like being LGBTQ is kind of like a white thing and like made me think of something else. But I, I'll bring that like, like. I don't know. It's just, it's really so many things are just like
Olivia Tran: Exactly like that!
Amber Jaitrong: For those of you not watching the video. I just clapped my hands together in a crash.
Olivia Tran: Beautiful visual metaphor.
Brady Berg: Hey y'all, it's Brady. Sorry to interrupt this wonderful conversation, but I need to give you some news updates. First, let's talk about a news article that was posted by the BBC, around the 30th of March, titled, Singapore gay sex ban: Court rejects appeals to overturn the law. Unfortunately, to Bella's point earlier, it seems that some Asian communities still have a ways to go in terms of accepting queer and trans people for who they are. It says that, um, this high court in Singapore rejected appeals by three gay men to repeal this colonial era law prohibiting gay sex because quote, well, because the law was quote “Important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs” end quote in Singapore. So I don't know. There's still a lot more work to be done in, and a lot more progress to be made in some countries in Asia in terms of respecting queer and trans people. But we're working on it.
Also, we would be remiss if we didn't talk about the rise in anti-Asian racism in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been some pretty hurtful rhetoric on behalf of people in power blaming countries in Asia for the Covid-19 pandemic, which is false. To help support you all during this time, the Cal Poly API faculty and staff association has put out a letter of support that you can read at tinyurl.com/APIFSAstatement. You can also go to that link and sign your name to support APIFSA.
Also wanted to shout out to our remaining queers and quarantine events for the month of May. We have a queer trivia night tonight, actually, if you're listening to this on May 15th. We also have a movie screening scheduled for next week and pans in the kitchen on May 24th. You can go to culture.calpoly.edu and click on the events calendar for more details.
Also, I wanted to do a quick promo for this thing called the Out Monologues that we're trying to start up at the pride center. You can go to culture.calpoly.edu/pridecenter/outmonologues to read about this initiative. It's a great opportunity to, um, tell your story as a queer person on the central coast of California and help people know that there are queer people, there are queer voices that, deserve to be heard, and talked about. These monologues can come in all different kinds of forms and you can read all about it at that website.
Finally, just a couple of shout outs. Our social media: You can follow our Instagram @calpolypridecenter, our Snapchat and Twitter @cppridecenter. And you can find us on YouTube by searching Cal Poly pride center. Finally you can subscribe to our newsletter at culture.calpoly.edu and clicking on the newsletter button at the bottom of the page.
Brady Berg: Continuing on the theme of APIDA heritage. Let's talk a little bit about the histories of non cisgender and non heterosexual individuals in Asian cultures.
Bella Matthews: And if you need some sub-questions like, how has colonialism affected the presence of LGBTQ people in Asian cultures and how can we work to decolonize these identities? Especially because when we talk about Asian cultures, we never talk about Indigenous Asian cultures and like how the language is affected by colonialization [sic.] and what we had before.
Olivia Tran: I think this is, like I love this question. I guess Bella can probably relate. I was a history major, so I really liked looking at-
Bella Matthews: What? I’m a history major! I didn’t know this! You’re like the second history major that I’ve ever met that I like.
Olivia Tran: Oh my God! I’m honored!
Bella Matthews: They’re kind of, they’re kind of terrible. They’re always white men that are like, I love Roman history or the Civil War.
Olivia Tran: I know! And you know what is so fucked up is I didn't realize until like after I graduated that like I'm pretty sure like almost every history professor I had was a white person. And I was like learning towards the end of my undergrad, like almost exclusively like Asian history, but it was like all white people. And I was like, can you like not hire some Asians? I didn't even realize when I was in the space because like you know I was so like cultivated into this culture of, yeah, whatever.
Anyway, as a history major, I really love this question because I really, like I love to kind of contextualize and like be able to create connections and narratives, kind of, across space and across time, which I think is really important for people, with like marginalized identities to be able to like connect themselves in some way or like feel a connection to like the chronology of the universe.
It's a little bit cheesy but I'm also a little bit sentimental. Really like looking back on it and like, I think it was like so interesting where like so many of us in this call were like, we feel like being LGBT was like somehow white because of the way that we were raised that like our images of like gay people were always white people. But like truly the gender binary was brought to a lot of Asian culture, like through colonialism, and through like Christian missionaries and all of this. And so if we really dig into the histories of the places where we came from a lot of the time, like gender is more complicated, like sexuality is more complicated and there are like long histories of not just like people who existed like for centuries outside of this binary of men and women, but also of like relationships between people of the same gender being like very, accepted or very likely just a part of history and a part of culture.
And so to have this like seismic shift somehow where like from those histories, like from the places where like our ancestors originate to like coming to the United States and viewing queerness as something that is outside of like our ethnic or racial identities. It's like really wild to me, but it's like looking back at those things and like at those parts of culture also makes me feel like. Yeah. Like, a message in the cosmos.
Bella Matthews: But going back to like the histories of like Asian cultures, I'm in like the ES 335, which is the Philippina/o American experience. And, it first starts out with like, indigenous Phillippinx people and how like, they did not really see gender. And like they, like gender was all encompassing and they did have like trans and non binary people. But after like colonialism, it was like not a thing anymore. And like, cause they're trying to eradicate all types of like “not normal” behavior. And it's kind of wild that we do see like being LGBTQ as only white because it's like such a white dominated sphere, even today, that we never like, like really see it.
Like how Olivia your like the GEC seminar about like adding the X to like be all-encompassing, but a lot of like, Asian people or like different languages, they don't want to add that cause they think it's a very like, Western idea, but they like, they don't seem to understand that. Like before there was an all encompassing language.
Astrid Yu: That's kind of funny because like, so like, in Chinese, the, the pronouns used to refer to people are - is “ta” and like spoken, it's the same for, men and women. But then like, but then, and like written, it was actually a single pronoun as well, but then. When the Jesuit missionaries came along, they actually decided we're going to, we're gonna put gender binary on this. We're going to have - we're gonna write it one way to write women and the other way to write men. And in the, when they like - when like the Chinese revolutionaries kind of like standardized the language in like 1917 they decided to include it because Western equals better, basically, and yeah that kinda sucks.
Brady Berg: Yeah. It's really interesting to look at like the design of the character is like, they're like different sections of the, of the Chinese character for - well, I guess now characters for “ta”. And that they both have in common, this, this, this stroke pattern that just means person, but then we attach onto it either something that like, something that bestows upon it femininity or that bestows upon it masculinity. Which is really, it was really interesting to me when I was first learning, I was like, hold on. Why do we - It’s said the same, but we write it two different - just...that doesn't make any sense.
Olivia Tran: For what reason?
Bella Matthews: Yeah, a lot of, like, so I don't know much. I'm Korean, but I don't know much about Korean history because a lot of it's lost because Korea is like a history of colonialization [sic.] with China and then Japan, and then the U S. so it never really got to develop, like it developed its own things, but it was, it was kind of like a mix of like different like colonialized [sic.] like cultures, like pressed on them.
So like a lot of - you can see a lot of individual aspects of person is like taken from like how like you said, Brady, that like the Chinese characters like you add on to like identify someone as their gender. Which is what Koreans do as well. It's like, like immediately when you meet someone you like, say like, “Oh, you're my sister,” or “you're my brother,” and it's like nothing else like you’re my eonni or my oppa or like you’re my ajushi, like, older man or older woman and it's like, why? Why do we need to do that? You don't really need to like, like, it's very like based on like respect and elder respect.
Astrid Yu: But from my, hmm, go ahead. Sorry.
Bella Matthews: No, go for it I was done.
Astrid Yu: Okay. Yeah. Okay. From my understanding, like a lot of it actually comes from Confucianism, which is basically - Confucius, Confucius’s entire philosophy was basically: know your place in the hierarchy, and women are below men always. So like Confucianism already a gender binary. And like that, I feel like that kind of idea has kind of just made like Chinese culture generally pretty hostile to anything outside the gender binary. Like that includes same sex relationships and trans people. And like, that's, I think that's also why like China, Chinese, like the Chinese language has so many different terms for relatives.
Bella Matthews: I think it is wild though. Like, I don't know about any other Asian culture, but Koreans are really, like, physical. Like men can hold hands in the street and like women, they like always hug and always are holding hands or like, like arms crossed and they like act very friendly and like loving toward each other, like in public, but then if it's in a different way, like if it was like two women kissing, but it's kind of like the same concept, but it's bad if it's between a loving partnership and it's okay if it's between like friends.
Olivia Tran: Just gal pals.
Bella Matthews: You don't know how many times I'll be walking in Korea and like people will be holding hands and I’m like I want to do that, but with my girlfriend, you know.
Olivia Tran: But in like, a gay way.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. Like, yeah. It's weird.
Brady Berg: Thinking more about like, what Astrid you were saying about the binary. It made me remember I have this, it's like ethnographic field notes essentially on, a specific region of China and specifically like the culture of, gay men in that area. It's called Tongzhi Living, which is fun, but it's a fun fact. I don't like, I don't speak Chinese very well. At all. So,
Astrid Yu: Neither do I.
Brady Berg: But one the things that I know is that, this word tongzhi, it means like, if you literally translate it, like comrade. But it is often use now, as like a colloquial way, to refer to gay people. They're comrades.
Olivia Tran: This is the future the socialists want.
Astrid Yu: Comrade is the only gender neutral pronoun.
Brady Berg: Yeah, it is a gender neutral pronoun. It's just tongzhi. So they use it to refer to gay people, it’s so interesting. But this, book, it talks about how, gay men, kind of classify themselves. So like in English, we often say like bottom versus top. Like that's like a common way to like, try and identify yourself. But in, in this region of China, what they use instead of bottom and top is zero and one. So they literally use a binary. They literally like, they talk about it like, “Oh, he's my zero,” or “my one this,” or “my one likes that,” and like,
Olivia Tran: Oh, that's interesting.
Brady Berg: So wild. Like it's literally like there are, there are two choices and it's, it's broken down so far even to like, even being associated with that, with the computer binary system of like zeros and ones. It's so interesting.
Astrid Yu: Do switches fall into that under 0.5?
Olivia Tran: I think that's too advanced.
Brady Berg: Too advanced. Yeah. Need more than one bit to contain.
Amber Jaitrong: They’re one zero. Zero one.
Astrid Yu: Switches are held in the Z-state.
Brady Berg: Thanks for listening to our discussion so far. We had so much fun recording it. It was just absolutely amazing to get to talk with so many Asian, queer and trans people all at once. It, it was so, it was so much fun. We actually had so much fun that we recorded way, way more than we could ever fit into a half hour episode. So we're gonna put out a bonus episode next week with the rest of our discussion. So stay tuned for that.
You can find us and full episode transcripts at bit.ly/qtcast. And yeah, we'll be posting our new, our bonus episode, next week with the rest of our discussion. It should be even more fun than what you've heard so far. Thanks again to Olivia, Astrid, Amber and Bella for giving us their thoughts on this episode, you'll hear from them again in a week's time. See you later, guys, gals and nonbinary pals!
Brady Berg: Hey everyone, this is Brady. This episode is a continuation of the discussion we had two weeks ago where we talked about what it's like to be queer and trans and Asian in honor of APIDA heritage month. If you didn't get to enjoy that episode, you can find where to enjoy it at bit.ly/qtcast.
Otherwise, let's just jump back into the conversation!
Bella Matthews: So what are some key issues affecting the Asian LGBTQ community and what improvements would you like to see in the world, with respect to your experience as an Asian QT person? Like would you like representation in media? Like what do you look for in allyship?
Astrid Yu: Yeah. Representation in media would be very nice. I mean like, it sucks because like queer people already don't have much representation or much good representation. Asian people: same, so like the intersection of the groups is like, yeah, no, you're not getting representation.
Olivia Tran: I love that like representation and media conversation because like I just feel like every time I talked to a gay Asian person, we're all like, but we have Saving Face.
Bella Matthews: Okay. I love Saving Face though it’s so good. Alice Wu was the same director that did Saving Face.
Olivia Tran: I haven't seen that one yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. So I feel like I never talk about this because I try to talk about like my, like gayness in a socially acceptable way. Like for when we talk about like coming out stories or like stories of realization about sexuality, like I feel like the first time I kind of really thought about like gay people, like the thing was because one of my friends at middle school linked me Naruto fanfiction.
Brady Berg: Stellar.
Olivia Tran: And so it's like these - when I look back on it, it's like I didn't really process like anything else, because like again, we are raised in like this culture where like in the media it's like mostly white people. And if they're Asian people, like they're certainly not like in the spotlight and they're certainly not like gay.
And so like all these like roundabout ways of like coming to explorations of sexuality where I was like, Oh, I guess that's what did it.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. It's definitely not enough. Like enough of a spotlight on LGBTQ Asian people because like, it's so hard, like as an Asian person, it took me so long for me to come out while, like other of my white friends were like already, like they already got it and I was like. But what like that guilt associated with like being gay? Like what does that do to my family? Like what will my reputation mean? What will the reputation for my family mean? Like how am I being selfish for choosing, choosing to be gay and like acting upon it. Like is it selfish to my mother or my father? And like how does it reflect on other people beside me?
It's never like, it's really hard to like differentiate between your, like to be individualistic and ancient society and like be like, well I'm gay and I can still be a family. Like it doesn't have to go like, it can go hand in hand.
Astrid Yu: I don't think, like, I'm none of my relatives back in China know. I mean, my, my mom doesn't even know that I'm doing this right now, but, like, when the news leaks out eventually, and it definitely will. Maybe in a few years, who knows? I will most definitely be shunned out of the family and, I'm not to be seen again. Probably. It's, it's, it like kind of a rough, it's, but it's like I didn't really, I'm kind of choosing what's best for my mental health. I can't really. Not transition, like I tried it and like it was not fun.
Bella Matthews: I dunno, I’m here to support you.
Olivia Tran: I think this brings up something that I hear a lot with, like, my other, like Asian LGBT friends. It's like, it's not just like this knowledge that it won't be accepted, but it's also the knowing that there is like a language barrier that we can’t communicate across. So even if you wanted to like sit down with your relatives and like try to make them like understand your experience and your identity, like that's not necessarily always possible because they are like. There might be a language barrier where like, you don't know how to talk about these things in like whatever language your families better and they don't know how to understand it in English and the way that we think about it. And so I think that's like one thing that I hear a lot about, like these journeys of like self discovery and coming to identity, like with, you know, like folks from patient, immigrant families in particular.
Brady Berg: I listened. I listened to last year, I think to this podcast called Nancy, which is an the NPR podcast, hosted by actually two queer Asian people. What a concept! And the hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low. And Kathy, she has tried to come out to her, Taiwanese, if I'm remembering correctly, Taiwanese mother, approximately like three times. Like each time trying to like reach the subject and explain across the language barrier like this. Like, I'm, I'm queer and I'm, I like women and I just like, I'm not going to like settle down and marry a man most likely, even though like, like her mom wants to think, okay, so you're queer, but like, it's, it's fine if you're a queer as long as you marry a man. And I'm like, we're all like.
Astrid Yu: Maybe we're not mutually exclusive
Brady Berg: Oh Lord yeah.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. I feel the language barrier when I, I like tried to come out to my mom a whole bunch of times. I tried to find like the translation in Korean for lesbian and it was like lesbian, like in a Korean accent, and I was like, that's not the word I was looking for, but like, I guess we'll go with it.
But yeah, like. And then I haven't even told like my other like relatives in Korea cause it's like kind of a hard thing to approach cause they don't speak any English. And it's like how do I fully express my experience and like my feelings if I don't, I only have like childhood raised Korean with me. I don't have like a full encompassing Korean that I can like fully express like, I can't, I don't have an adult level Korean, so it's just really difficult. And also like still the feeling like that's my mom's family. Like is it like, am I still being selfish? And like telling them that? Like how does it reflect that my mom, even though like it's not about her anymore.
Astrid Yu: China actually, China actually has, there's this one talk show hosts who is actually a trans woman, and like, she's, she's actually a very popular host. And like, even like, I guess like everyone knows that she's trans, but like, she's popular and yet, it's still like trans people are kind of not really accepted and it's like I've been kind of thinking, okay, if I were to come out to my relatives, maybe I would use her as a sort of starting point and be like, “Yeah, so you know this person? I'm like her!” and, but like, I don't know if like, I even then, I don't even know if it's like, they do understand the whole thing and I would still really hesitate because it's like, I don't know, they might. They might just be like, Oh, that's one of the good ones. The rest of them are mentally insane.
Brady Berg: Yeah. There's a lot of concern with like whether or not you'll be able to be successful.
Astrid Yu: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Brady Berg: As a queer trans person. And so maybe they're like, they're totally fine with this person because. She is successful. She is like a popular host. But the moment that you present yourself in this like state of vulnerability and like suddenly your parents are like, but, but will you be okay?
And like, will everything be okay? And then you like the definition of okay is very, very strict. It's very like, well established and well known like this is, this is the way that you will live through your life that will result in the most security for you and your future family. And then like being queer is like completely throwing security out the window amongst.
Astrid Yu: Yeah. Get a degree. Hope, preferably in medicine, law or engineering. Um, I mean, Oh,
Olivia Tran: Maybe if I were straight I’d be a doctor by now.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. My gay brain was like, no, you're going to do like history and ethnic studies.
Olivia Tran: The gay brain rot: do humanities.
Astrid Yu: The gay brain. Okay. Actually the gay brain has actually made me like, okay, I'm going to like fucking, just, really just do this engineering stuff. Like, yes. Trans women in engineering.
Olivia Tran: That’s motivation, yeah!
Bella Matthews: Amber, what about you?
Amber Jaitrong: For me? For me? Yeah. You know, you know, me being just the, the, the mixed queer person I was like “Let’s do two majors!” Computer engineering, which is already a combo of two majors: electrical engineering and computer science. And then ALSO ethinic studies! So interesting.
Olivia Tran: Which is as far apart as you could possibly get.
Amber Jaitrong: We're going to do it all.
Astrid Yu: I mean I have been tempted to think about a math minor too.
Brady Berg: Don’t - be careful. I was thinking about a math minor and now I'm a BMED/Math double major so…
Olivia Tran: A cautionary tale.
Bella Matthews: Amber? For you. What I would like to hear what you, what improvements would you like to see as a mixed race person in the Asian LGBT community? And like, what do you look for in allyship? Like what would be a good ally for you?
Amber Jaitrong: Yeah. I realized I've just been listening and what I've just been really realizing, it's like wish I was like in more spaces like this. That's kind of like, I want more gaysian time. Like that's what I need to see. I want us to like, maybe I'm just not in it, I guess, you know? But like this is just, even just listening to all this has been so like, wow, I need more of this. I don't know. I want to be here. Like, like I want more community I guess among us or help me I guess.
Yeah. Cause it's just like, Whoa. There's like making me realize, oh, there’s a lot of things like I really just kind of like brush past or just didn't like develop in myself, or maybe I just haven't thought about or haven't brought those things together. So like this has even just been for me, just like, wow, like maybe even healing. I don't know. This is like being part of the conversation and listening, so I just kinda want to hang out with more gaysians. That's kind of what I think I need. I don't know. Yeah, I think, let me think about other things, but that's kind of what -.
Brady Berg: I fully support that!
Bella Matthews: Yeah, it's really formative to hear like people's experiences that are similar to your own because then you like, you have like a community and you don't feel alone anymore.
Like I was really excited about this gaysian, like this gaysian podcast because like. I was like, Brady and me were like, “Do we know any gayians?” And we were like, five, we know five - and it's like, we need that community because it's so important. Like if we are not like, we want that representation in media, but what about like -
Amber Jaitrong: Representation with us!
Bella Matthews: - in real life and like how like we bond between each other with our shared experiences.
Amber Jaitrong: Cause I know there's like, I have friends too, you know -
Bella Matthews: You’re like “I do! I swear!”
Amber Jaitrong: Like gaysian friends too who are all like, but like the, I think we're all kind of just like lost wandering. And I think there's obviously like there's many of us, but we just like… We need to come together through magnetization, you know, we've just kind of are orbiting and thinking, are we the only ones?
Bella Matthews: Right. Another problem with that is a lot of gaysians are like, Oh, like I'm not that type of gay, or like, I, I'm like, like straight passing, like, I'm doing that in air quotes by the way.
Um, but like, yeah, you, you like don't want to be associated with being that gay. Like you can be gay, but not like part of a community. Like, I know so many people that are like, I'm gay, but I'm not like other gays, like I don't want it. But it's like, it's not about flaunting. It's about who you are and community
Olivia Tran: And that's a lot to unpack. I feel like there are a lot of, or like LGBT Asian folks will like be in their spaces where like they're the only one, but like they have a really strong community like somewhere else. But then it's like, they're like the one gay person, like in that like cohort or like in that group or in like whatever board they're sitting on.
And so I feel like, yeah, it ends up like we ended up in these pockets and it's really hard to like pull everyone together.
Amber Jaitrong: Mhm. We think we're like the only one of something in a certain group, but we haven't been able to be all of it together with each other. So yeah I want gaysians to unite.
Bella Matthews: We should make a gaysians group chat.
Amber Jaitrong: You, if you're listening to this, and you are gaysian, join us!
Brady Berg: Together. We can do
Bella Matthews: We all form like the Power Rangers. Like all together we form a big one.
Amber Jaitrong: We are here to bring people together!
Brady Berg: Yeah.
Bella Matthews: Also gaysians in reference, like media by the way, like, sorry, this is going back, but like it really like touches on queer failure. Like how they can not like end up with someone or like be happy, which isn't like a lot of like queer ideas like in media, but like. Like white LGBT characters tend to like get more happiness versus like gay Asians, they’re like a funny thing, like they're like small and wimpy and like funny or like, they like, it just really touches on like queer failure.
Sorry. That was like totally off topic. It just came to my brain.
Amber Jaitrong: No it’s okay. It's something I realized. I feel like I almost lived that -
Olivia Tran: Oh my God, Amber!
Amber Jaitrong: - because I am someone who... I'm okay, but like the way I kind of just exist is like, yeah, I'm these things, but like I've not dated really anyone -
Astrid Yu: Same!
Amber Jaitrong: - like anyone in general for like all these years and I was like, yeah, I'm okay if I'm like, single and I've had that talk with my parents, like, is it okay if I am just like not married or not with anyone? They're like, yeah, or I've had to talk. Oh, I've had to talk about all the different situations, but like many times I'm like, yeah, I probably, I'm cool if I'm just like single and I've just existed just like, through that path and I was like.
Brady Berg: Amber you're so much more to all of us.
Amber Jaitrong: It’s okay. Failure's okay. But I just thought that it was interesting.
Bella Matthews: Amber, you're so sweet.
Olivia Tran: You’re too sweet -
Amber Jaitrong: You're right. You're right.
Olivia Tran: No, I definitely like, like totally resonated with this too, cause I feel like I was also such a late bloomer and I think like so much of that has to do with like, you know when all of your friends in high school are like discovering like romance and like sexuality and all of that, it's like you are on the track behind them because you're also like discovering like, like am I even like attracted to who I'm like supposed to be attracted to? - Oh, we lost Bella. Okay.
Bella Matthews: My computer died. Keep talking!
Olivia Tran: Like am I even like attracted to people like in the right way? Or like who am I supposed to be attracted to you? And so you have to like work through like this entire other bundle of feeling before you're allowed to like go along with like the sort of romantic or like sexual shenanigans. That like all your peers have like years and years before. I think too, what does it really help is like this is a stereotype, but like, it's something that my parents told me to like, don't worry about dating like just worry about like, you know, like getting your education, like getting settled and all of that. And so it's like, okay like I won’t!
Amber Jaitrong: Yeah, my dad tells me that all the time. Every time. Yeah.
Bella Matthews: At one point, oh go ahead.
Astrid Yu: Well, like also, just like I, I like, I only realized that I was a girl like a year ago, and it's like, there's not only is there the whole, how do I catch up with like romantic skills? Like how do I even like be, how do I, how, you know?
Bella Matthews: Yeah. Once I found out I was gay, it was like, it was like, Oh, like I'm, - oh, I got to meet with him. Like once I found out I was gay, it was all about like, I'm not going to end up with someone because I don't want to like come out. I don't want to do that because I'm like Asian, like you can't be Asian and gay.
Like. In my mind and like in like my community, it was like, no, that's not right. That's like gross. So like I was like, I'm going to be alone forever. And then like, like accepting like that you don't have to be alone. Like for me was like a big, like a whole other like transition where like I had to like, like can I look for love? Like is that a possibility for me because it's not going to be the love other people want me to have.
Brady Berg: Yeah. I thought a lot about like when I was in high school and when I was in my first, um, year or so of college, I was like, I mean, I guess I, I could try and date someone, but like, I don't think I have the time. I think I really just need to be focusing on school right now and
Olivia Tran: Gotta do more math.
Astrid Yu: That's me right now!
Amber Jaitrong: Retweet. It’s me all of school and now.
Astrid Yu: The quarantine’s not helping with this, either.
Brady Berg: Oh, truly. Yeah.
Amber Jaitrong: Yeah! This quarter’s supposed to be my quarter!
Astrid Yu: I was going to like make a profile on like Tinder or whatever. I don't know. But then like quarantine.
Brady Berg: Nope. University is - nope!
Astrid Yu: COVID is homophobic.
Bella Matthews: It's, it's true though. Anyways, Brady, college. Brady.
Brady Berg: I was thinking about like, well, I haven't really found anyone yet. It just hasn't happened, and like obviously I hadn't been trying, I hadn't put in putting any effort into this. I guess it hasn't happened to me yet, so like maybe I'll just wait until grad school. Maybe I'll have time then. What a silly thought, what a silly thought that was. If I don't have time in undergrad, then I think we're going to have time in grad school? No. But like thank God my like my current boyfriend just like texted me and like asked me out and I was like, “Oh wait, I can, I can date someone?”
Bella Matthews: Yeah. When I started dating I was like, I can only like, I can only date white women because like only white women are out like as proudly as they are. And I was like. Like, I'm only looking for a white like women or lesbian identifying people. And I was like, I think that's all I can have, but I, yeah, I don't want, I don't want to date another white person being just like…
Olivia Tran: I’m so sorry you had to go through that
Bella Matthews: It’s a whole other, like racial. Yeah. The racial dynamics are, I was like, Oh, like the whole like idea. And I'm like when I found Lily as a Japanese woman, I was like, “Oh my God.” Like, there was a world of possibilities. And like, like it came so easily. Romance came so easily because we have a shared identity as like queer Asians. We're, we're like neglecting the part about like Korean and Japanese dynamic, but like that's a different story.
Olivia Tran: We’ll unpack that in a bonus episode.
Bella Matthews: That's another, that's another, yeah. That's another like...
Olivia Tran: I don’t know if it feels like this to anyone else, but like, sometimes to me it feels like, like romance just like happens to straight people like on accident, but like, for us it’s like Oh my God we are out here trying so hard!
Bella Matthews: We gotta find it!
Amber Jaitrong: Yes! Just sitting in class!
Bella Matthews: We gotta find it. You gotta wear a rainbow.
Amber Jaitrong: But then also Cal Poly feels so small, but Cal poly feels so small, like all the people who are queer, like my friends you don’t want to ruin the whole friend circle, you know, weird drama because, it just feels too small!
Bella Matthews: Yeah.
Amber Jaitrong: How do you find anyone?
Olivia Tran: Or what I realized as I got older is that it's not weird to like not have any romantic or dating experience until like you're older, but it seems like everyone else has gone through it, but it's like that's not reality. Like there are a lot of people who don't necessarily like, who haven't necessarily dated extensively or even at all, like even into their twenties and so like it feels like there's a stigma against it and especially I think especially like combined with being LGBT and being queer, like there's like a multilayered stigma, but like it is so normal to like not have that experience.
Bella Matthews: Especially with like I grew up in the suburbs, so it's like mostly like I grew up with a lot of white people, so like growing up with a lot of white, like, like. Straight people because they're like, they were straight in high school, you know? But like it was hard to like. Like you were so shy or repressed and like you can't like date when you're still figuring out yourself and like dealing with your whole like inner race dynamic and like.
Amber Jaitrong: Yeah, cause when you're also just trying to unpack being mixed, you have so many things to unpack.
Bella Matthews:Too much!
Olivia Tran: Like Astrid’s packing list!
Amber Jaitrong: Too much! I don’t have a big enough house for this!
Astrid Yu: Yeah, my packing list!
Bella Matthews: You have to unpack yourself before you help unpack another person, you know? So it's like, it's okay, but you don't have any dating experience.
Brady Berg: Hey, everyone, Brady again, just jumping in for a little intermission. Just wanted to mention again that the API faculty and staff association has put out a letter of support to help you all deal with the rise in anti-Asian racism in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. And you can find that letter and add your name to the signature list at tinyurl.com/APIFSAstatement.
Also, you can find our social medias at the following handles: our Instagram is @calpolypridecenter. Our Snapchat and Twitter are at @cppridecenter and our YouTube can be found by just searching for Cal Poly Pride Center. Finally, you can subscribe to our newsletter at culture.calpoly.edu and scrolling to the bottom of the page to click on newsletter.
I wanted to give a thanks again to our guests Olivia, Amber, Astrid - I mean, Bella works here, but she deserves thanks too - it was such, such a blast to record this discussion with all of them. We hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as we enjoyed talking about it. You'll hear everyone sign off again at the end of the episode, but I wanted to make sure and give them an extra thanks here. All right. Let's get back into the discussion.
Brady Berg: Okay.
Amber Jaitrong: Do we have anything about allyship?
Brady Berg: Yeah, that's right. We were like, Oh we probably should.
Amber Jaitrong: Personally, I don’t know.
Bella Matthews: I don't know. Oh, okay. So I have a lot of trouble with fetishization of Asian people, especially as a Korean. I've had a lot of people come up to me and be like, “Oh, like are the Korean boys hot? Like, do you know K-pop stars?” Someone tried to be my friend and came to my house just to talk to my mom in Korean and like ask her and like eat her food and it was really creepy. Like. It's like, that's happened to me like multiple times, just because of like my Korean-ness
Brady Berg: That’s disgusting.
Bella Matthews: And it's like, yeah, it's really gross. But like, yeah, the whole fetishization of like Asians, like with like the popularization of K-pop, not that that's a bad thing. But like with, it becomes like the sexualization, the more like, calm and sexualization of Asian people, because before it was like, you know, like going to Thai and having like a sexcapade and all that stuff. That was like, like a big thing, but now it's like more widely spread and like more with younger people of the fetishization, of like specifically Asian women.
Amber Jaitrong: I didn't even think of that. Like this new wave, this new, bigger almost accepted wave of fetishization.
Bella Matthews: Like it’s a different thing to love and like appreciate a culture, but it's another thing to like adopt it as your own because I saw this tweet of this girl and she was like German, like white German, and she was like, “I am trans-racial.” And like she got surgery to be “Korean”. And I was like - .
Amber Jaitrong: When there's Asians out here getting surgeries to try and look white?!
Bella Matthews: Yeah I know like it's a whole other, like modern sphere of like, yeah, stereotyping and, like, kind of fetishization. And now it's like neverending thing with COVID.
Olivia Tran: So like, I think it's really interesting to really dig into that too, because it's always like you like certain Asians or certain Asian cultures aren't desirable. But like I feel like I've never had someone tell me like, Oh my God, like I wish I were Vietnamese. Like, you know? So it's like really interesting to see what becomes kind of like desirable as a product of like what people can consume.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. Especially with Japanese, like Japanese and Korean, like Japanese anime and then Korean like pop.
Brady Berg: And when we talk about like representation, like even the measly presentation that queer Asians do get, it's like most of the time it is light skinned queer Asian people. And like the - even the word Asian, a lot of times like in colloquial use, it's like, if you say the word Asian, then the immediate thoughts are like Korea, Japan, China, and like, you don't like the, the common social, like practice is to not think outside of those bounds.
But Asia is. Like it's four letters that represent so many things that we need to be so much split. We need to be more careful and more intentional about like thinking like, okay, like there is not one kind of Asian. There are like there are billions and billions and billions of kinds of Asians out there and we all need - we need to be careful that we're not grouping them all into a single over-simplified category.
Astrid Yu: Like going off on like what you said about fetishization, like I'm pretty lucky that like, I haven't experienced that yet, but I mean, I've only like been out for like a few months, so who knows? Like, and it's like, it kind of worries me because, well, Chinese women: fetishized. Trans women: fetishized. Hey, I'm both! And it's scary.
Amber Jaitrong: I'm glad you brought up this point because about fetishization. Because I'd say for me now, what came up because I was Thai. I actually remember when I was little, someone was like, “Are you Chinese?” and I was like, “there’s other Asians” I was like in second grade. “I’m Thai!” I literally yelled. But I, I have gotten the like, “Oh, you're so exotic.” You know? And the fact that being like mixed and like, “Oh wow, you're that. I've never heard of someone who's that mix of things. You're so exotic. How did that happen? How did - you combined to be like that. You're like” AH!
Bella Matthews: “Wasians.” I hate that term. “Wasians.” I hate it.
Amber Jaitrong: I mean, even though I am someone who's part Asian and also part white, but then I also like. I - something an issue I think in mixed communities is, you know, when you see someone who's say they're mixed and they're Asian, you automatically think they're white. And it also erases a lot of folks that are, you know, Asian and anything else. Cause there are plenty, but that's a different issue that I just went into. But yeah, the whole like exotification thing I've experienced and I feel that.
Bella Matthews: There's like one side where it's like you're exotic and sexy, amazing. And then there's the other side where it's like you're, you're like quiet and you'll make a good wife if you're like a woman. And it's like how, like how do you navigate these two stereotypes that you've been given? Like you're like forced upon you. Like if you're small, you're like a perfect wife. If you're like a little bit taller or bigger, you're like a sex object
Amber Jaitrong: Or being cute, you know, being small. Everyone’s like “You’re so cute!”
Bella Matthews: Oh yeah. Like a child. Like I got to act like a baby to like. Ew. What does that say about you?
Amber Jaitrong: Being cute and treated as being cute and I feel like being cute and connected to being Asian. Oh, you're so cute. Like it is a submissive way. I don't know.
Bella Matthews: Not to talk for my girlfriend, but like while we were dating, like random, like, like a white boy would or like a different Asian boy would like, they didn't even know her, but ask her out like random, like they didn't even really know her name and they asked her out because like they were like “You seemed kind. Like a good wife.” And I like, what? Because she's small? Like.
Olivia Tran: Something that goes - we are overtime and I'm still talking. Something that goes along with like the fetishization well, it's like, I think it contributes to this idea that like as Asian women like we can't be gay because like you're the object of desire of like a man, like specifically a white man. And so like to kind of have that societal image really like creates this like, you know, how do we think outside of like Asian women as attached to a white man and like both like a, you know, like a funky, but also in like a strictly heterosexual way?
Astrid Yu: I think even like as an a, like I'm not mixed, but like. Even like my mom for just, just like Asians in general. Also like - not in general - but just, I mean there's also like fetishization from the Asian community. I feel of like we're just like, cause like. I've heard some, like my mom or some relatives make comments about how mixed children are like something I dunno. And like also also like there’s, they don't. And when they like talk about mixed children or like just mixed marriages, they always mean like with white people, if it's with like if it's with like somebody out or if it's with black people for example, it's like, “Ooh, that's, that's not good and you shouldn't do that.” And I'm like, “what?”
Brady Berg: Yeah. Oof.
Bella Matthews: There’s just so much to unpack as a gaysian. Now they’re just, like, coming out there like, whoa!
Amber Jaitrong: Because there's just too much.
Astrid Yu: A lot of the times I have felt like a pressure to kind of. Do very, very well in school and my career because like, well, you know, like trans people and like women and like they, you don't really get too many like opportunities or there's just job discrimination. And like, honestly, there, I do feel a pressure to basically like do really well to almost sort of like compensate it, mask it. You know? Does that make sense?
Bella Matthews: Model minority.
Astrid Yu: Exactly. I don't like it, but like I still feel the pressure to do it.
Bella Matthews: Yeah. You got to perform to be like the best Asian you can be,
Astrid Yu: The best trans woman.
Bella Matthews: Quote unquote, “lacking” attributes of yourself.
Bella Matthews: Yeah, I can't stop thinking about that tiktok. You've seen it Amber on my story, but it was like Asians with tattoos, like “I’m the biggest disappointment in my family” and then it was like Asians who drop out of college “No, I'm the biggest disappointment in my family.” And then like the door opens and like LGBT Asians walk in and are like “You thought!”
Brady Berg: And what about the ones with tattoos?
Bella Matthews: I posted that. Yeah. And I was like, I'm, I'm like a gay Asian with tattoos! Someone was like, you shouldn't drop out to make it a trifecta and I’m like-
Brady Berg: Oh my Lord. Okay, so wrapping up, you can find us all of our episodes and links to where you can watch and listen and read our transcripts at bit.ly/qtcast. I want to give a thanks again to all of our panelists. We'll go around again.
Bella Matthews: I'm Bella. She/her/hers and. Yeah. I identify as a Korean lesbian and fun fact about me is I'm a gay that can cook too. Not just drive. I can cook. I popcorn to Amber.
Amber Jaitrong: I'm Amber. Any pronouns. I don't have a fun, catchy term for myself yet, but Bella has inspired me and if you check out my Instagram, I also can cook. I’m just tagging onto facts cause I can't think of it any but thank you everyone!
Bella Matthews: Amber makes jewelry! Amber can make jewelry.
Astrid Yu: I'm Astrid she/her/hers. I'm trans and a slightly more complicated than a Lesbian And a fun fact about me is my desk is a mess. It always is.
Olivia Tran: Yeah. Hi. Okay. This has been Olivia. She/her/hers. I am Vietnamese American queer woman. And even after you stop listening to me on this particular episode of this podcast, I will never shut up ever.
Brady Berg: That’s your right.
Bella Matthews: Good as a gaysian woman, you gotta be loud.
Brady Berg: And I am Brady Berg. My pronouns are he/him/his, and I am a mixed race gay man.
Bella Matthews: I love that you say it like-
Amber Jaitrong: “I’m a mixed race… Gay man”
Bella Matthews: You're like, “I gotta add in in the gay”
Brady Berg: Okay. See you later guys, gals, and nonbinary pals.