Now that I live in the San Gabriel Valley, I’m much closer to a geo-cultural-gastronomic community of Chinese Americans than I’ve ever been in my life. This has its benefits as well as its deficits.
This story is a little of both.
Two weekends or so ago, HB, the Unreliable Narrator, and I were just about to enter a 99 Ranch Asian grocery store in the San Gabriel valley when some young Asian Americans stopped us outside. HB, with his Big City No Eye Contact/No Bother Me skills, sailed past with our son. I would’ve stopped too, but one of the young people sank her hooks into me when she asked, “Are you registered to vote?”
“Yes,” I said, thinking, Oh, how cute, they’re registering voters.
“Well, you know about Prop 8 right?”
I paused, not wanting to spoil the moment, yet dreading a little what seemed to come next. “What about it?”
“You should vote yes on prop 8.”
“No, in fact I plan to vote no on 8.”
“It’s about gays getting married…” She looked at me like, ‘You’re a mom of a young child and you’re for that??’
“I absolutely believe gays should be able to get married and be equal with everyone else.” If she could’ve read my thought bubble, it would’ve said, ‘Precisely, sweetie. I am the mother of a young child AND I’m exactly who should support marriage equality.’ And I went in to buy my groceries.
I was peeved and disgusted, and it wasn’t until I heard that Yes on 8 people were canvassing Chinese neighborhoods and I saw some “yes on 8″ ads online that I felt compelled to do something. You have to understand, these Yes on 8 ads say in Mandarin Chinese some of the worst, most appalling lies I’ve ever heard about being gay or about married gay people. (I’d link, but I hate giving them the traffic. And I really hate having trolls come over the bridge to befoul my little corner of the internet.)
Lies like, “If Prop 8 doesn’t pass, your kids will be taught about gayness/gay marriage!!!” Translation from Homophobese to regular English: “They will recruit your helpless child into their deviant ways!” Other lies, like, “If Prop 8 doesn’t pass, we’ll have mothers who’ll marry their sons and polygamy and children marrying adults!!” Translation from Homophobese into regular English: “It’s Sodom and Gomorrah, everywhere, all the time! Being gay is a gateway drug to incest, pedophilia, and other ills that magically don’t exist in the land of Heterosexismania!”
You see why I was so sickened. The lies annoyed me. The casual hate annoyed me. I thought about my new little nephew, D., that my friend from college, S. and his hubs D. just adopted. That child is so cherished, so adorably chubby-cheeked, dimpled and well-loved, so deeply wanted, so tenderly cared for–it offends me to my core that people would bother to say he and his family aren’t real. You have to understand, S. and D. have wanted to be parents to a child FOR YEARS.
As usual, when annoyed, I wrote a post on MOMocrats about it.
Luckily, I happened to have had lunch recently with two awesome women, one of whom started up this amazing film fest within a film fest idea called Queerlounge, and another an LA blogger I’d heard about and occasionally read, and was curious to meet, JozJozJoz. Bingo! That was all I needed. Through Joz, I got connected to some filmmakers working with API Equality LA, and we were off to the races.
I’d had the names of some people who spoke out at an API Equality-LA press conference, so I knew who to contact for our on-camera talent. One of them was free the day we were filming our PSAs.
So, here are a few PSAs that are up on YouTube to help counter the distortions the Yes on 8 side is putting out. I am so glad there’s a vocal, visible community of No on 8 Asian Pacific Islander Americans who won’t cede our community to a presumed heterosexism/homophobia. Oh sure, I know it exists among APIs in shovelfuls. (Tinfoil hat theory: the Yes on 8 people chose to number their proposition “8″ because they specifically wanted to make inroads into the conservative, born-again, churchy-right immigrant Chinese American community. Try, just try to get a superstitious Chinese to vote against lucky number 8.) But there’s also the persuadable middle–people who haven’t given the issue any thought but are reasonable, and don’t go out of their way to make life harder for other people.
This one is of Jay Chen, a school board member here in SoCal. Basically, he’s addressing the fears of parents falsely stoked by Yes on 8 advocates. The gist of it is this: “I know you’re very concerned about your children’s education. Right now, any teaching about health or family through schools is determined by local school boards and parents, and parents can always opt-out of such teaching if they wish. Gay marriage IS NOT currently taught in schools and it WILL NOT be taught in schools. This stays the same if you vote No on 8. And as people who have experienced discrimination ourselves, we shouldn’t discriminate against others. Please vote no on 8.”
The second video is in English and by a parent of an adult gay daughter. I find it moving in its simplicity. Acceptance and love, it really is that simple. Marriage equality, it’s Just. That. Simple.
So, for all you right-wingers thinking you’ve got the Chinese-speaking crowd all sewn up–think again, bitches. You have more than you should but not as many as you want if I can help it.