Month: November 2017
Cyntoia Brown in the Independent Lens documentary, Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.
In what’s become an annual tradition, Haikus with Hotties has released its 2018 calendar full of–you guessed it–hotties.
The calendar, created by writer Ada Tseng and features good-looking Asian dudes from all sectors of the media industry, is meant both as a play on the “beefcake” calendar as well as an important socio-political statement.
“Haikus With Hotties is a calendar series that highlights the attractive and talented Asian men in media that often don’t get as much attention as they deserve,” states the Haikus with Hotties website.
The lack of attention stems from stereotypes Asian men are still dogged by, such as being nerdy, feminine, and goofy, much like Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. (The “Long Duk Dong effect” was also tackled in a 2016 episode of Fresh off the Boat, in which Randall Park’s Louis Huang is afraid that he’s doing the Chinese equivalent of “cooning” as the recurring guest of a local news show.) But the stereotypes inherent in Long Duk Dong stem from decades of racist propaganda created by the U.S. from the 1800s onwards to create fear about Asian immigrants. The same stereotypes were used in World War II propaganda to keep America focused on defeating the Axis Powers, which included Japan. Between the 1800s to the 1940s, and certainly in the years after the war ended, these stereotypes have become part of the problem that keeps America from reaching its full potential as a democracy.
Those stereotypes once again became the subject of current events in January 2017, when Steve Harvey made a series of offensive jokes about Asian men and their supposed unattractiveness. To combat the stereotypes, Haikus with Hotties gifted Harvey a calendar.
Steve Harvey found his rant against Asian men really funny. The internet did not. pic.twitter.com/hpuemv4UCE
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 16, 2017
If you still don’t get what’s being written here, just take a look at the Breakfast at Tiffany‘s character Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney), an older version of the same stereotypes Long Duk Dong represents (and yellowface on top of it), in comparison to actor/model Godfrey Gao in the summer 2015 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Men Thailand.
See how ridiculous these stereotypes are?
South Asian men also suffer from the same stereotypes, but now those stereotypes are also laced with Islamophobia. Still, the reality outweighs the stereotypes once you open your eyes to the truth. Take for instance another ’80s character, Short Circuit’s Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens), yet another role in which a white man is portraying an ethnic character, coupled with an extreme accent and gestures, and Dev Patel–who should be starring in tons of romantic comedies right now–from InStyle Magazine’s 2016 Oscar coverage for Lion.
Again, the reality outweighs the stereotype.
With that said, check out some of the images from the new 2018 calendar. This year, Iron Fist fan favorite and new Into the Badlands cast member Lewis Tan is featured, as well as Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu, queer/trans comedian, actor and writer and D’Lo, and Pretty Dudes star Yoshi Sudarso (pictured below with his brother, Power Rangers Hyperforce actor Peter Sudarso), among many more.
Want to see the rest? Check out Haikus with Hotties’ website and order your 2018 calendar!
Need some Christmas present ideas? Thanks to Shop + Hire PR, you can get some gift-giving out of the way while helping Puerto Rico continue to heal from the effects of Hurricane Maria.
Shop + Hire PR is an initiative created by nonprofit Colmena66 to help the businesses of Puerto Rico get back on their feet. Colmena66 head Denise Rodríguez told NBC News that the diaspora–Puerto Ricans who live off the island and on the mainland–were calling and texting to know how they could help.
“They actually asked how we can shop local entrepreneurs online,” she said.
Shop + Hire PR has more than just apparel stores–there are companies that sell food, candles and home goods, jewelry, and there are also freelancers and small businesses that specialize in copywriting, consulting, video production, marketing, photography, web design, industrial design, events, and more.
I took a look at some of the apparel stores and came back with some cool items, most of them centering around a very personal theme for me–the early ’90s, pastel aesthetic that not only defined my childhood and early memories of South Florida (where I was born and lived for the first year of my life before my family moved back to Alabama, as well as the place of many family vacations), but has gone on to define much of the designs I use in my web presence. When I ran my first site, Moniqueblog, during the early-to-mid ’00s, I kept a pastel pink-and-blue theme:
And even now, I have pink and blue as part of JUST ADD COLOR’s scheme, albeit more neon. Those two colors–plus the entire late ’80s art deco aesthetic that’s present throughout Miami–seem to sum up the feeling of South Florida in a nutshell; it’s tropical, it’s beachy, it’s laid back (to an extent–let’s not get me started on how Miami can be too crunk at times), and every day is summer. Even when you’re depressed (like I was when I lived in Miami for three years recently), you’ll still find something uplifting in seeing the sun on a daily basis and having the ocean just a few miles (or, since I lived by Biscayne Bay, mere steps) away.
With that said, let’s get to the finds.
The perfect pastel shirt
apparel brand Luca has many upscale pieces, including this pastel plaid shirt. The “Just Love” shirt has all of my favorite pastel colors in it, and the cut of it looks just right for a shirt that can be dressed up and dressed down.
Saved by the Bell in earring form
It’s too bad I don’t have pierced ears, or I’d totally buy these earrings without hesitation. These earrings are part of the “Peaches and Cream” collection at Aguja Local, which sells clothing as well as awesome jewelry like these. These polymer clay earrings feature the classic early ’90s squiggles that shows like Saved by the Bell are known for. Coupled with the pastel purples, pinks, peaches and blues, these earrings are tailor made for those of us who love living in that cool, colorful aesthetic.
Artist Allison Holdridge has tons of amazing prints featuring the icons of the tropics, the palm tree. This particular print, “Atomic Palm,” speaks the most to me thanks to its conjuction of bold brights and soft pastels. Combined with the graphic treatment of the palm frond itself, this print makes a declarative statement about paradise on earth.
What cool things have you found thanks to Shop + Hire PR? Let me know in the comments section!
In movies and television, some of the most recognizable gay characters have been portrayed as effeminate or weak; they’re “fashionistas” or “gay best friends.” Street gang members, on the other hand, are often depicted as hypermasculine, heterosexual and tough.
This obvious contradiction was one of the main reasons I was drawn to the subject of gay gang members.
For my new book “The Gang’s All Queer,” I interviewed and spent time with 48 gay or bisexual male gang members. All were between the ages of 18 and 28; the majority were men of color; and all lived in or near Columbus, Ohio, which has been referred to as a “Midwestern gay mecca.”
The experience, which took place over the course of more than two years, allowed me to explore the tensions they felt between gang life and gay manhood.
Some of the gang members were in gangs made up of primarily gay, lesbian or bisexual people. Others were the only gay man (or one of a few) in an otherwise “straight” gang. Then there were what I call “hybrid” gangs, which featured a mix of straight, gay, lesbian and bisexual members, but with straight people still in the majority. Most of these gangs were primarily male.
Because even the idea of a gay man being in a gang flies in the face of conventional thought, the gang members I spoke with had to constantly resist or subvert a range of stereotypes and expectations.
Getting in by being out
How could I – a white, middle-class woman with no prior gang involvement – gain access to these gangs in the first place?
It helped that the initial group of men whom I spoke to knew me from years earlier, when we became friends at a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth. They vouched for me to their friends. I was openly gay – part of the “family,” as some of them put it – and because I was a student conducting research for a book, they were confident that I stood a better chance of accurately representing them than any “straight novelist” or journalist.
But I also suspect that my own masculine presentation allowed them to feel more at ease; I speak directly, have very short hair and usually leave the house in plaid, slacks and Adidas shoes.
While my race and gender did make for some awkward interactions (some folks we encountered assumed I was a police officer or a business owner), with time I gained their trust, started getting introduced to more members and began to learn about how each type of gang presented its own set of challenges.
Pressure to act the part
The gay men in straight gangs I spoke with knew precisely what was expected of them: be willing to fight with rival gangs, demonstrate toughness, date or have sex with women and be financially independent.
Being effeminate was a nonstarter; they were all careful to present a uniformly masculine persona, lest they lose status and respect. Likewise, coming out was a huge risk. Being openly gay could threaten their status as well as their safety. Only a handful of them came out to their traditional gangs, and this sometimes resulted in serious consequences, such as being “bled out” of the gang (forced out through a fight).
Despite the dangers, some wanted to come out. But a number of fears held them back. Would their fellow gang members start to distrust them? What if the other members got preoccupied about being sexually approached? Would the status of the gang be compromised, with other gangs seeing them as “soft” for having openly gay guys in it?
So most stayed in the closet, continuing to project heterosexuality, while discreetly meeting other gay men in underground gay scenes or over the internet.
As one man told me, he was glad cellphones had been invented because he could keep his private sexual life with men just that: private.
One particularly striking story came from a member of a straight gang who made a date for sex over the internet, only to discover that it was two fellow gang members who had arranged the date with him. He hadn’t known the others were gay, and they didn’t know about him, either.
In “hybrid” gangs (those with a sizable minority of gay, lesbian or bisexual people) or all-gay gangs, the men I interviewed were held to many of the same standards. But they had more flexibility.
In the hybrid gangs, members felt far more comfortable coming out than those in purely straight gangs. In their words, they were able to be “the real me.”
Men in gay gangs were expected to be able to build a public reputation as a gay man – what they called becoming “known.” Being “known” means you’re able to achieve many masculine ideals – making money, being taken seriously, gaining status, looking good – but as an openly gay man.
It was also more acceptable for them to project femininity, whether it was making flamboyant gestures, using effeminate mannerisms, or wearing certain styles of clothing, like skinny jeans.
They were still in a gang. This meant they needed to clash with rival gay crews, so they valued toughness and fighting prowess.
Men in gay gangs especially expressed genuine and heartfelt connections to their fellow gang members. They didn’t just think of them as associates. These were their friends, their chosen families – their pillars of emotional support.
But sometimes these gang members would vacillate about certain expectations.
They questioned if being tough or eager to fight constituted what it should mean to be a man. Although they viewed these norms with a critical eye, across the board they tended to prefer having “masculine” men as sexual partners or friends. Some would also patrol each other’s masculinity, insulting other gay men who were flamboyant or feminine.
Caught between not wanting themselves or others to be pressured to act masculine all the time, but also not wanting to be read as visibly gay or weak (which could invite challenges), resistance to being seen as a “punk” or a pushover was critical.
It all seemed to come from a desire to upend damaging cultural stereotypes of gay men as weak, of black men as “deadbeats” and offenders, and of gang members as violent thugs.
But this created its own tricky terrain. In order to not be financial deadbeats, they resorted to sometimes selling drugs or sex; in order to not be seen as weak, they sometimes fought back, perhaps getting hurt in the process. Their social worlds and definitions of acceptable identity were constantly changing and being challenged.
One of the most compelling findings of my study was what happened when these gay gang members were derisively called “fag” or “faggot” by straight men in bars, on buses, in schools or on the streets. Many responded with their fists.
Some fought back even if they weren’t openly gay. Sure, the slur was explicitly meant to attack their masculinity and sexuality in ways they didn’t appreciate. But it was important to them to be able to construct an identity as a man who wasn’t going to be messed with – a man who also happened to be gay.
Their responses were revealing: “I will fight you like I’m straight”; “I’m gonna show you what this faggot can do.” They were also willing to defend others derided as “fags” in public, even though this could signal that they were gay themselves.
These comebacks challenge many of the assumptions made about gay men – that they lack nerve, that they’re unwilling to physically fight.
It also communicated a belief that was clearly nonnegotiable: a fundamental right to not be bothered simply for being gay.