Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baffling: political protest of an LGBT film festival

I just got this on a queer Asians listserv:


SF Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans Film Festival PINKWASHESWar Crimes

Apartheid -- Occupation -- Invasion -- Murder -- Racism -- Ethnic Cleansing

The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival has accepted
sponsorship and money from the Israeli consulate for the second year
in a row. Every Palestinian queer organization, along with a number
of local and international queer groups, have demanded that the
festival presenter, Frameline, stand up for human rights and
international law by refusing to partner with the Israeli
government. The Consulate and its supporters have threatened to
brand the festival as “anti-Jewish” if they decline their money. But
by accepting it, and ignoring the voices and the lives of Palestinian
queers, Frameline has shown itself to be anti-queer as well as anti-

Join the Protest
Friday, June 17, 5:30-7:00 pm
Castro Theater, San Francisco

Shame on Frameline! All Queers Count!

Sponsored by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), SouthWest
Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ), Middle East
Children's Alliance, Arab Resource and Organizing Center,
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Israeli Queers for
Palestine, Palestinian Queers for BDS

for info:;;


I don't know the back story, but it seems these protesters don't understand what "anti-queer" and "anti-Palestinian" mean any better than the Consulate understands "anti-Jewish." Nonprofit arts organizations exert the most power through the art they promote. Unless Israel's support influences Frameline's screening choices it makes no sense to pick on a presenter about a domestic political issue. Yes, a U.S. policy problem.

LGBTQ Pride Month

Someone shared an appreciation of Pride events on a San Francisco radical queer social listserv I use. It was in the context of habitual distaste for assimilationist gayness and the persistent need for safety from persecution of gays. Here is my reply:

I had my first Pride outside SF last weekend in Washington, DC. It was a wake-up call that SF Bay is still very much a world class oasis. Compared to what I got used to in the Bay, it was a baby Pride: no barriers, little security, tiny contingencies, a few trucks instead of hours of floats. It was wonderfully homey, though: hotels, storefronts, and churches got decked out in rainbow around the parade route; lots of hand-painted signs and lovingly assembled costumes everywhere. Out here, I take comfort that the militant eccentricity, flamboyance, and diversity of the Bay goes on and on. It reminds me what sometimes annoys me comes from a genuine need.

As for making gender & sexual nonconformity more okay, the best work I've done is still CUAV's speaker bureau. They are now an independent volunteer-run collective, I haven't spoken with them since they inherited the program from CUAV but I'd be happy to share my experiences with you if you email me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cultural appropriation vis-a-vis globalization

As I edit these shorts, a topic recurs as it does whenever I encounter Asian or folk influence in contemporary music performance. I've encountered views on the topic with a range of tone (here's an irritating one), but none yet that attempts to address the complex experience of 2nd- plus-generation immigrants coming of age in white Eurocentric culture. Try this:
  1. Am I assimilated because I've accessed white privileged education, move in white queer or liberal circles, and know relatively little about my culture of origin?
  2. If I'm assimilated, is my interest in minority cultures and use of artifacts (including artistic) from these cultures appropriative exactly as if I were white?
  3. Is the only way for me to escape the white man's path, to be more Chinesey by investing more of myself in my culture of origin, whatever that is and regardless of the reasons my family chose to leave it?
There's a narrative that I need to investigate. In a globalized world, I can't believe I'm alone on this! As I touched on in my previous post I filled a spiritual void in childhood from whatever I could get my hands on. Coming into awareness that there is a tremendous complexity and history behind each culture I encounter was a difficult step for me. I don't dispute that we owe other cultures deeper respect and serious and cautious study. What irks me right now is the alienating, silencing effect when one who is genuinely interested in a non-origin culture hears his expression is appropriative.

Serious questions:

Can a musician incorporate elements of culture of non-origin music into her work without knowledge of the cultural significance of this sort of music and without being appropriative? Can one who studies a non-origin culture extensively and still be appropriative?

Lest I be blamed for leaving it out on this post, I'll write it here: Orientalism. Now, your turn to sound off.

Btw #3 is a ridiculous suggestion because it is both impossible and uninteresting. Having had the Western, stereotype-focused anti-oppression education that I have makes it impossible for me to retrace my parents' values to 1980s China and somehow claim them. What would be interesting is to see how my generation of organizers all over the world, including in the mainland, conceptualize oppression.