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Summer 2009 Newsletter by pengxuebo


									Voices of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance               Summer 2009


                                           IN SIDE Godzilla
                                            2   In Memoriam: Jeff Sead
                                            4   EPIC Art Exhibition
                                            6   How Becoming
                                            7   My Slant on Things
                                            8   Scholarship Awardees

                                            9   A Letter from Ninong
                                           10   Ten Questions
                                           11   Is There a God?
                                           13   My Visit With Oscar Wilde
                                           15   Canto Five
                                           17   GAPA Bulletin Board
                                           18   Visiting Valhalla & Vikings
                                           20   What Is GAPA?
                                                                  Jeffrey Alan Sead
                                                                   Nowadays there’s a lot of talk about change. From the White House on down, we’re sup-
                                                              posed to be in a new era, but what sometimes gets forgotten is that for each great leap for-
                                                               ward, there are lots of modest steps leading to it. As a gay Asian/Pacific Islander commu-
                                                                nity, we’re getting there. In our own ways, we each play a part, large and small, in moving
                                                                the community forward, but then there are those who are truly agents of change. Jeff Sead
                                                                   was one of those people.
                                                                    His passion and dedication with GAPA is well known to many of us. Working on the
                                                                    GAPA Board, the Banquet, Gay Pride, Chinese New Year Parade, the socials, the net-
                                                                    working, the advocacy — the list could go on. But any simple catalog of his accomplish-
                                                                    ments, no matter how impressive, can’t really do him justice.
                                                                     It’s the personal touches that make a difference. We’ve huddled in meetings with him,
                                                                        argued and agreed, marched side by side, celebrated triumphs, dressed in drag, and of
                                                                             course ate together, at too many meals to even count. We’ve been charmed by his
                                                                             smile, won over by his easygoing manner, and impressed by the inescapable de-
                                                                             cency of his character. Yeah, Jeff was an exceptionally nice guy, but make no mis-
                                                                             take, nothing could hide his sense of purpose, his will to make change.
                                                                     This is what made Jeff so special — from the strength of his convictions to his un-
                                                                    wavering vision, he really cared about his gay API brothers, not just in GAPA but in
                                                        the community at large. He was willing to put himself out there, again and again, and in so doing
          Dan Chin                                      he has made a lasting impact in our lives.
          I have known Jeff Sead for over 15
          years, he was an inspiration to me            He definitely led by example, but he just made it all seem so effortless that anyone looking might think if
          and to many other GAPA leaders                only I stepped it up a little, I could follow in Jeff’s footsteps. He inspired so many to do more, to be bet-
          throughout the years. I remember              ter, to make a difference. Jeff definitely had big shoes to fill, but I think we’re up to the challenge. Jeff,
          when I joined in 1994, Jeff was Treas-        this is part of your legacy. Along with all the many other countless reasons — for all your work, for all
          urer and Banquet Chair. He had this           your dedication, for all your passion — for this we will remember you.
                                                                                                                                                        — Dino Duazo
          unique talent of making chores and
          grunt work fun. Like he could take an
          ordinary tea set and turn it into a “handmade treasure from China”                In Celebration of Ourselves
          for the silent auction. And it would sell!
                                                                                                 “Many things have changed for the better since Stonewall and we
          He was my first beautiful Gay Chinese American role model. And                         must remember and be thankful to those in the past who have
          when he won the Godzy Award for GAPA’s Man of the Year, I wanted                       worked so hard to gain the freedom and dignity we enjoy today.
          to win one too. And not just me. He was instrumental in nurturing
                                                                                                 Also, we must work to maintain our present rights and push for
          countless others, including people like Alex Louie, Edward Lee,
                                                                                                 more fairness and participation in society.
          Kevin Jim, Keith Yamamoto, and Joe Mendoza, and we all won
          Godzy’s of our own, between 1996 all the way to 2006.                                  Despite complex differences and varied life experiences, we in GAPA
          As Joe said: “He was one of the people who encouraged me to run for                    share much common ground such as common ethnicity, experience,
          co-chair.” As Kevin said: “He was like a big brother to me.” No other                  attitudes, gestures and the like. We are unique from all the other
          GAPA leader has done more to welcome and mentor its leaders of the                     people and this is our gift. No matter how much we evolve, we will
          future. Jeff was visionary; he understood the struggles of the past, the               forever share the unity that comes from that common ground.
          issues of the present, and the hope of days to come.                                Today’s obstacles are indeed difficult, but not insurmountable.
          The following excerpt is from his final letter to the community as                  Let us continue to pool our resources and talents together and
          GAPA Co-Chair, published in June 1996.                                              celebrate the beauty of ourselves as we truly are…”

2 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
Edward Lee                                                               Lewis Fernandez
I met Jeff in 1998, shortly after moving to SF and trying to decide      Jeff Sead was one of the first people I met in GAPA. He really helped
how much I wanted to get involved with GAPA. I remember my very          me come out of my shell, and encouraged me to volunteer and
first impression of Jeff was that of a leader and mediator, as he was    become more active as a member of the group. Through him,
asked to come back to a fractious board meeting to ease tensions.        I met many people, and Jeff himself became a close friend of mine.
Over the years, our friendship deepened through countless GAPA           We shared many fun activities together, including when we teamed
meetings, events and Sunday dim sums. Jeff's easy smile and infec-       up a few times to help with GAPA Runway. We supported and as-
tious laughter brightened many gatherings, and most people knew          sisted each other in many endeavors.
Jeff as the charismatic leader that he projected. But it was his quiet
                                                                         I will always have fond memories of him, particularly his enthusi-
and more introspective side that I will most fondly remember.
                                                                         asm, empathy, and lively spirit. At times I find myself reminded of
Jeff knew and valued the importance of respect, family and tradi-        him, like when I pass by a Hawaiian Cafe he took me to, or at a
tion. More than any other friend, he made sure you knew explicitly       GAPA event where his conspicuous absence makes me melancholy.
how much you meant to him. He was fond of sending "thank you"            Sometimes singing a certain song with the GAPA Chorus evokes
cards and thoughtful emails after our get togethers, no matter           memories of Jeff; the music then takes on new meaning for me, a
how minor. I remember a particularly random and funny shopping           mix of sadness and appreciation for the friendship we shared, which
excursion to Bloomingdales, where I semi-seriously advised him not       ended too soon. I miss my dear friend; I always will.
to buy a jacket on impulse. He sent me an email the following day,
thanking me for the counsel with a full and humorous recap of the        Keith Yamamoto
day. That, for me, was quintessentially Jeff. I will miss my dear        I met Jeff about ten years ago at a GAPA event and remember how
friend.                                                                  he made me and all newcomers feel welcome. Over the years we
                                                                         developed a friendship based on our common interests such as the
Dion Wong & Benjie Aquino                                                Japanese culture and Hawaii. I often thought he knew more about
Jeff, you are one of the greatest contributors to the Gay Asian/         Hawaii than me even though I was born and raised there and he
Pacific Islander quest for equality. You will be sorely missed but we    certainly was more fluent in Japanese. I enjoyed listening to his
can all remember the countless ways you have advanced our cause.         stories about his travels, his stay in Japan and his other adventures.
May the Blessings Be.                                                    I admired all the work he did for GAPA and the gay and Asian com-
                                                                         munities. He was one person who reminded me of the importance
Vincent Baduel                                                           of getting involved and motivated me to participate in GAPA and
Jeff, my first time ever at a GAPA event was at a GapaRap meeting        eventually become a board member.
and you were the rap facilitator. I was impressed by the obvious
                                                                         I miss Jeff. I think about our visits to museums, the numerous dim
effort that you put into your facilitation. You even brought some
                                                                         sum outings, the hula shows, and the meetings for coffee and con-
props. Your presentation was both informative and entertaining. I
                                                                         versations in Japantown. I take comfort in the memories of all the
don’t know if you intended to be funny or somehow, the things you
                                                                         good times we shared. About a year ago Jeff and I were going to visit
said just turned out to be funny. I joined GAPA after that meeting.
                                                                         the Japanese garden in downtown San Mateo but it was closed for
The last few times I saw you were at GAPA 35+ meetings. It was great     renovation. I recently was able to visit the garden since it reopened
that you supported the GAPA 35+ program of GAPA which has had an         to the public. It was a beautiful and serene place and I thought to
uninterrupted run of 8 years since we revived it some time in 2001.      myself that Jeff would
I want to personally thank you for the great GAPA moments and for        have loved it.
the wonderful conversations we had in the course of our friendship.
I can only hope that everlasting peace will now be yours forever.

                                                                                                                       Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 3
     EPIC Within
  Visualizing Heroes
                  by Rico J. Reyes                                                                                                            Alberto Vajrabukka

    Visual artists — working in different media and style, addressing a vast range           VISUALIZING
    of issues and themes, identifying with multiple hyphens, slashes, and qualifiers               The rubric of Asian America is a problematic monolith that
        — converged in one gallery to launch EPIC: Visualizing Heroes Within.                dissuades beholders of its diversity in language, ethnicity, and
                                                                                             nationality. Add identities of class, gender, sexuality, migration
          This visual art exhibition, presented under the auspices of the GAPA, and          status, religion, and a plethora of other factors, Asian America
       with support from Zellerbach Family Foundation, was held at the SOMArts               becomes an unwieldy, vast, deep, amorphous yet exciting
             Cultural Center Bay Gallery in association with Asian Pacific Islander          entity. The lack, difficulty, or apathy of inter-ethnic and inter-
    Cultural Center as part of the 12th Annual United States of Asian America                generational communication is an endemic problem that per-
    (USAA) Festival and with Queer Cultural Center as part of the 12th Annual                petuates isolation, misunderstanding, and powerlessness.
                                                                                             The desire to communicate with each other is so strong that
     National Queer Arts Festival. GAPA has been instrumental in organizing                  other means of communication materialize. Hybrid languages
         exhibitions that poignantly address issues of identity within the Gay Asian         inflected with a myriad of accents are heard, but perhaps,
         & Pacific Islander community. This year’s exhibition, EPIC: Visualizing             there is one language that is emerging as the lingua franca of
       Heroes Within engages this identity within the frame of the image economy,            Asian America: the language of the image.
                     the politics of difference, and the expression of an imagined nation.         The mode of communication within Asian America becomes
                                                                                             centered on the image, the pictorial, and the visual as a way to
                                                                                             negotiate its linguistic borders. The nation of Asian America
                                                                                             speaks picture together. Visual language parallels spoken lan-
                                                                                             guage, rather than uttering words, images are produced, seen,
                                                                                             and understood. The process is repeated and communication
                                                                                             begins. The image is able to transmit more information than
                                                                                             sound, allowing the beholder access to the complexity of a scene
                                                                                             at a glance as opposed to deciphering the specificity of a sound.
                                                                                             The image communicates so much better than sound that silence
                                                                                             takes on a new function; it is no longer the absence of communi-
                                                                                             cation but acts as the conveyance for glances, looks, and gazes.
                                                                                             The silent exchange between the image and the gaze is a subtle
                                                                                             transaction mediated by the work of art functioning as currency.
                                                                                             The work of art is the materialization of this abstract transaction.
                                                                                                   Yet, Gay Asian American identity does not rely on static
                                                                                             expressions to define its socio-political position. A photograph, a
                                                                                             painting, a sculpture only shows a momentary glimpse into this
                                                                                             identity and this identity is not entrenched within the image. As
                            Freddie Niem                                          Perapol    each of the images is exchanged, new ones are being produced.

                                Kelvin Min Young                                                         Phillip Hua                     Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa
4 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
                                               Grace Villarin Dueñas                                  Hiro T.                                Kek Tee Lim

It is in this mode of production, the act of visualizing – the con-    WITHIN
stant continual re-conception of the self – that moves this com-              The hero in this epic — whether accidental or chosen —
munity forward. Visualizing is an act of revolution that allows        arises out of the chaos of disparate communities being lumped
each individual to re-image him or herself, to picture him or her-     together. Out of racialization — to separate and limit access to
self within a new landscape liberated from his or her oppressed        education, health care, cultural resources, etc. — the Gay Asian
condition. The production of the artwork allows this libratory         American subject develops as a resistance to this oppression by
image to materialize, to be exchanged, and to take flight.             embracing its amalgam identity, its halo-halo (mixed) identity,
                                                                       and its collective consciousness. It is in the diversity of the com-
HEROES                                                                 munity as a whole that its citizens find strength, wisdom, and
     As images are produced through visualizing and exchanged          support to enable the dormant heroes within.
through the image economy, Gay Asian Pacific Americans are                    The Gay Asian Pacific American has multiple sources of em-
communicating libratory desires as expressed through works of          powerment that it requires a matrix to track which filters an individ-
art. However, this means of communication is not readily avail-        ual embodies to color his or her subjectivity. The totality of citizen-
able and many obstacles are placed to prevent this exchange.           ship is a product of visualization and its realization is still negoti-
Echoes of colonial policies are heard in transnational corporate       ated by giving credence to the parts that make the whole. As citi-
globalization, exclusion practices are still enacted in policies of    zens of this imagined nation, we must be vigilant in visualizing our
immigration, surveillance and control continue as racial profiling     totality, realizing a process to fulfillment, and embodying liberation.
under the Patriot Act, and the religious community continues to               This exhibition brings forth lofty ideas of how identity is ex-
malign homosexuality as unnatural and a sin. These are major           pressed and negotiated as strategies on how we as a community
hurdles to overcome and any effort to negate, complicate, and          can access our total selves through visualizing heroes within
to open discussion is an act of heroism.                               each of us. Our daily lives become examples of heroic deeds,
     Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, or Curi-        recounted retrospectively and in totality, it emerges as an epic.
ous Asians who are trying to live a full life as complete people are   EPIC: Visualizing Heroes Within is an act of self-determination;
everyday heroes. Yes, heroes are often seen as being extraordi-        it is an act of resistance; it is a negation of a negation; it is a
nary, having supernatural powers, and overcoming great chal-           dynamic multivalent reflection on Queer Asian Pacific American
lenges and achieving great deeds, and in the everyday common           viewpoints, identities, imagination, and desires.
language this may be the standard definition. But think about
the everyday experience of a Queer Asian American who is con-               Rico J. Reyes is currently a freelance curator and PhD student at
stantly reminded that he or she is a foreigner even though they             the Center for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of
were born here or have naturalized; his or her beauty is ques-              London. As a curator, Rico is invested in creating new knowledge
tioned when passing billboards full of altered and manipulated              about his communities through the exhibition of visual art.
white bodies; always fighting for a spot at work, at school, or in
the community; or fearing that someone else’s god will strike him           A color copy of the EPIC exhibition catalog can be purchased at:
or her down; isn’t living with this liability a heroic act?       

            Michael Armado                                                        Cirilo Domine                                                  Kai Chang
                                                                                                                              Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 5
  How Becoming
                                                                                                           by Martin Momoda 

                                                                                          humiliation nor could new laws change people’s minds. All she had
                   ow could it not be epic?                                               was her lower lip. It was a lower lip of resolution, of tearful dignity and
                     For every living and breathing human on this earth, an inexpli-      of trembling excitement. This was the excitement of knowing – know-
              cable narrative is written, each moment pieced together by a daily          ing that she was not on the other side. She was not the one throwing
              heroism. We’re assigned our own cardboard boxes filled with rem-            the tomato and because of that, she was going to make history.
              nants from past lives, sticky incidents and bric-a-brac only we can               I knew why people threw tomatoes and know how it felt to be
              value. Our task is to do something with it, something creative, and         a target, but in my own idealism, I didn’t understand why people
              at some point, we might think we’ve tied it all together. What do we        gave in, why they submitted and why they give up hope. How could
              have? A macramé fern hanger, a pretty collage or an assembled               fear of being different be so incapacitating? Rockwell and Guyana
              shoebox diorama. It’s titled, “my life” and we stand in front of a          make for strange life-determining moments, but I remember fixat-
              classroom trying to explain, “This is how I made it, this is what it        ing on every word and image in LIFE with fascinated horror. In the
              means, this is why it’s important.”                                         jungles of Jonestown, nobody had said, “no.” Nobody had had the
                     People are not always interested, but much can be said about         courage to say “no.” A thousand people had drunk cyanide Kool-Aid
              the materials themselves; the glue that has sculptural capabilities,        because they believed what they had been told. They believed it
              the pigment that smears in artistic ways, the crepe paper that looks        was their salvation. They believed that someone knew better than
              good shredded. We do the best with what we’re given while never             their own best instincts and foremost, they were afraid to be tar-
              forgetting how these things and moments have constructed our                geted as different.
              lives. Many of us have something special in our boxes.                            So I like pancakes on Sundays, I know how to jut out my lower
                     Maybe it’s queer and maybe it’s Asian. In itself, it doesn’t write   lip and I still refuse to drink poison Kool-aid. What kind of shoebox
              an epic. Not a classic queer epic. Not a queer-Asian epic or an Asian-      diorama can that make? Who knows? How could those be the for-
              American-queer epic. Rather, it’s how those hyphens stitch some-            mative events to bring me to Laos, to try to publish language-
              thing together — something different, like fabulous new patterns or         learning books in a country that doesn’t have a standardized lan-
              shoebox dramas inspired by unwritten books. These are the secret            guage of its own? To sell books in a country where many people
              threads that add hue to mundane moments. Or more importantly,               have buffaloes rather than bank accounts? To try to market books
              they are the catalysts and the emulsifiers of what we become.               where many walk three days to get to the nearest road? I don’t
                     Sundays were always a bit special, if only for the reason that       know. It’s a crazy and idealistic pursuit, but it suits me fine. I’m my
              they were predictable. My father would make pancakes upon re-               own hero. I’ve “become” and I believe it becomes me. Those bits
              quest in different dripped shapes like suitcases and teapots. It was a      in my cardboard box work just right for me.
              good way to be late for church. After Sunday service, there would be              It takes a stubborn lower lip to persist at something most
              cookie socials and Bible classes, but for some reason I was excused         people say is impossible. It takes a stiff upper lip to defend what I
              to sit in the car with the Sunday comics. We’d eat at McDonalds and         believe is right and it takes two big flapping lips to argue against
              economize further by ordering regular hamburgers, filled with Vel-          those who are afraid of change. It’s hard. There were always easier
              veeta and lettuce brought from home. Finally, we’d try something            options in life, but none were attractive.
              cultural like going to a Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Frye Museum.              It’s also about saying “no” to illicit shortcuts and saying “no”
                     Routines make imprints and I can trace preferences for pan-          to hopelessness. Someone once told me that I was righteous. It
              cakes on Sundays to my early days, but the moment in this story is          wasn’t a compliment, but so be it. I can be flexible or even accom-
              a solitary picture that stood out from happy-happy Rockwell-land.           modating on good days, but I don’t like the taste of compromise
              This painting didn’t iconize the steaming roast turkey surrounded in        when it comes to principles. It’s a poison potion that causes every-
              a halo of an extended family. It didn’t try to show childhood naugh-        thing else to unravel in bitter ways.
              tiness as if there were no such thing as adolescence. The painting                Maybe it helps to have the queer-Asian cross-stitch. I know how
              that stood out from the crowd was the painting of the little black          to say, “No, I don’t thinnnk sooo.” Tomato splats are the least of my
              girl in the little white dress, lower lip resolutely firm, escorted by      worries. Why not be a little fierce, a little righteous and a little epic?
              armed guards, unnerved by the tomato that had splatted on the
              wall rather than on her dress.                                              Martin Momoda is doing “momobooks” in Laos, a one-man enter-
                     She was a target because she was different. She was unaccept-        prise to produce books for Lao students. If curious, please visit:
              able. She had been sent to school with the best of intentions, with    
              the belief that wrongs could be righted and that there could be justice.
              The reality was that armed guards couldn’t protect her from fear and   

6 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
                          In Search of Heroes 
by Vincent Baduel

Heroes and Villains                                                        can have anything to do with speaking a Germanic language from
     It is hard to imagine a world without heroes and villains.            England? To me, being American has little to do with proficiency in a
Whether in the world of comic books or sports, or in the world of          specific language. Being American has everything to do with the ideals
theater or politics, we are drawn to the protagonists from which to        of liberty, democracy, the pursuit of happiness and justice for all.
choose our heroes and villains. The community of gay Asian Pacific
                                                                           Proposition 227 Revisited
Islander (API) men is no exception. We too have our own ideas of
                                                                                 In 1998, Proposition 227, a measure which abolished bilin-
heroes and villains, not just in the area of justice and equal rights
                                                                           gual education in the state, was approved by California voters.
but also in quality of life issues as Americans and as members of
                                                                           Most affected were Latino and Asian children. But I think the
the world community.
                                                                           demographic shift in California (Latino population increase) has
     Yes, good things that have taken place over the years but we,
                                                                           made Proposition 227 only a footnote that probably explains one of
as gay API men, also recognize that there is so much more work to
                                                                           the biggest reasons for the Latino voter loss suffered by the Repub-
be done to achieve full equality and full access to resources that
                                                                           licans who were huge supporters of Proposition 227. To me, the
allow us to have a decent shot at the pursuit of happiness and the
                                                                           supporters of Proposition 227 were definitely not heroes.
achievement of our potential.
                                                                                 Yes, it is now only a footnote because, whether you like it or
Spotlight on LGBTI Lawyers                                                 not, California and many parts of the country are already bilingual
      The struggle for marriage equality is being waged not only in        in reality. Businesses already use Spanish in dealing with many of
the political and legislative arenas but also in the legal arena. At the   their customers. Airports, hospitals and streets already have signs
forefront of this fight are LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender     in Spanish. My parish partly uses Spanish prayers, music and lyrics
and Intersex) activists together with LGBTI lawyers. Years ago, on         in English church services. In the future I see the possibility not
behalf of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA), I attended an event       only of widespread Spanish language programs in schools but also
honoring these lawyers in California. I was impressed by the number        the creation of educational institutions using Spanish as the pri-
of women lawyers who have made it their crusade to fight for mar-          mary medium of instruction. There are those in the majority culture
riage equality. In my book these LGBTI activists and lawyers are           who do not like this scenario but it is not something they can stop.
                                                                           Embracing Bilingualism
      I am from a family of lawyers (father and brother, but not me).
                                                                                 I think that many in the majority culture want English only
I have always had this thinking that if somebody messes with my
                                                                           because it will be easier for them to control and dominate people
rights, I will find a way to make offenders pay, one way or another.
                                                                           who speak English only. Those who refuse to accept the impending
Nobody messes with my rights and nobody messes with my human
                                                                           bilingual reality will be at a disadvantage. “English-only” business
dignity without the prospect of eventually paying the price. Yes, we
                                                                           owners and managers (including black and API business owners
need to make offenders of the API/LGBTI community pay either
                                                                           and managers) will have to hire Spanish-speaking people unless
legally (aggressive court action), politically (voter education, politi-
                                                                           their businesses can do without a Spanish-speaking clientele.
cal action and media exposure), or financially (boycotts, stock-
                                                                                 Latino activism has not even started yet. Once it gets going,
holder action, pressuring advertisers and tireless litigation).
                                                                           look out! Non-Spanish friendly businesses will be targeted not just
Foreign Language Anti-Discrimination Bill                                  for boycotts but also for more overt action like picketing, sit-ins,
     One person I would consider to be a hero in the field of anti-        marches and rallies. These will catch the attention of concerned
discrimination against minorities is State Senator Leland Yee of           stockholders, fearful politicians, the media and the rest of America.
San Francisco. He drafted legislation that would make it illegal for       And our own Castro LGBTI district better wake up. It has not been
businesses to prohibit the use of a foreign language in their estab-       the leader in embracing bilingualism.
lishments. After he filed the bill, Yee reported that a woman left a
phone message at his Capitol office telling him “to go back where          Accomplices in the Iraq War
he came from” (ostensibly, China). We may be in California where                 One of the biggest issues that probably separated then presi-
one of every eight residents is API, but there are still those who         dential candidate Barack Obama from the other candidates in the
need to be educated about diversity.                                       2008 presidential election was the war in Iraq. Almost everyone in
     One of the villains on this issue, as I see it, is the Ladies         Congress was tainted with either outright voting for the attack or
Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Yee’s bill was in reaction to        allowing the attack to take place by not speaking out. It is too easy
a proposal last year by the LPGA that apparently targeted South            to label then President George W. Bush as the villain in this case or
Koreans when it sought to suspend players who could not speak              to just add then Senator Hilary Clinton and other Democrats as
English. The LPGA eventually dropped the proposal. But they are            shameless criminal accomplices. The way I see it, there was perva-
not the only villains. I remember listening to a news item from            sive war hysteria not only brought on by the fear of more terrorist
New York City many years ago in which a Chinese parent proposed            attacks but also by the idea that we the American people have so
a program in her child’s school district to teach Chinese and other        much might that we can bring the world to its knees at will, with the
languages. Another parent scornfully asked her “why my tax dollars         use of our superior technology and devastating firepower.
should be wasted in teaching your language.”                                     Yeah, right. That really worked well in Iraq.
     Unfortunately, many Americans including those in the API/                   People were seduced by the thought that we can bring shock
LGBTI community actually also think that being American requires           and awe to our perceived enemies and that we can bomb Iraq, or
English language proficiency. Is this really true? Does being Ameri-       any other country for that matter, “back to the Stone Age.” Among

                                                                                                                  Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 7
                   GAPA George Choy Memorial Scholarship
                   Honoring the Next Generation
                        In the 20 years since GAPA's founding, George Choy was one of those brave activists who led many battles that have helped
                        rectify a number of inequalities facing our community. Many in GAPA and many in the community have stood tall next to him
                        on the battlefield and without doubt knew him to be an honorable commander-in-chief. It is in his memory that GAPA is proud
                        to offer the George Choy Memorial Scholarship to help foster future activists in our community. With the Scholarship now
                        entering its 12th year, we are happy to announce three exceptional youth as our most recent recipients. These shining lights will
                        no doubt continue to make positive contributions to GAPA and the API LGBT community for many more years to come.

                                                             Karl Cabrera is studying game art and design at the Art Institute of California. He
                                                             is active in Frameline and is the vice president of True Colors, the LGBT club at the Art
                                                             Institute. At the Art Institute, he has made both the President’s List and Dean’s List for
                                                             academic achievement. He hopes to work as a 3D animator in the videogame industry.
                                                             He enjoys immersing himself in art — learning, watching, hearing, performing, and mak-
                                                             ing art always leaves him doe-eyed and lifted. Carl is honored and thankful to get this
                                                             award. He feels it’s a great start for him to become not only more visible, but more
                                                             active as well in the community.

                                                             Vanessa Coe is an Ethnic Studies major at U.C. Berkeley, active in the LGBT
                                                             community and communities of color. She helped organize the Queer Culture Show
                                                             and will be the next Executive Director of Bridges, the multicultural resource center at
                                                             Berkeley. In high school, she served on the board of the California state-wide Gay-
        photo: Joshua Lim

                                                             Straight Alliance. Vanessa is interested in pursuing sustainable activism, where we can
                                                             engage in social activism yet still have time to heal and grow. She likes playing basket-
                                                             ball, surfing, dancing to 80s music, eating damn good food, baking, cracking jokes with
                                                             her mom, playing around with her dog, and acting out spontaneously with friends.

                                                             Kevin Hamano is a Political Science major at U.C. Berkeley. Kevin served as the
                                                             chair and a founder of the Queer Culture Show at Berkeley. He was admitted to the
                                                             National Residence Hall Honorary and is a Chang-Lin Tien Scholar. After graduating
                                                             from Berkeley, Kevin would like to continue working with the LGBT and Asian American
                                                             communities. He is also considering pursuing an MBA. Kevin enjoys photography,
                                                             theater, learning languages, meeting new people, and just chilling will friends. Kevin
                                                             would like to thank GAPA and those who made the Scholarship possible.

     the biggest backers of Bush and his war were and, sadly, still are, the               Bush, the conservative Christians and the Democratic accomplices.
     conservative Christians. Never mind that war causes death, mutilation                 Perhaps you and I are not blameless. Were we not mesmerized by our
     and severe injury to our young men and women in the armed forces.                     might as the most powerful nation in the history of mankind?
     The Iraqi people perhaps suffered ten times more casualties than we                         We do not live in the world of comic book heroes and villains.
     did. Huge numbers of these conservative Christians convinced them-                    Hero today may be villain tomorrow. What can be constant is our pur-
     selves that God was in favor of war against Iraq which ironically was                 suit of ideals… including the ones framed by our so-called forefathers
     one of the few Mideast countries that had religious tolerance (a top                  who were inspired by the notion that “all men are created equal.” This
     minister was even Catholic!).                                                         is supposedly the source of our demand, as minorities and as LGBTI
           To these extremist Christians, their feeling of safety and security             people, for equal rights and equal treatment under the law. When you
     trumps the commandment of “Thou shalt not kill,” trumps humanitar-                    think about it, the framers of our Constitution were mostly White Anglo
     ian considerations, trumps world opinion and trumps the absence of                    Saxon Protestant, slave-holding, middle-aged men. It is difficult to
     evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction and that there                   visualize that collectively they were in fact also thinking of women, APIs
     was a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda 9/11 bombing collusion. Is it unrea-                    or slaves in referring to “all men.”
     sonable to say that the blood of soldiers, civilians and innocent people
     including women and children drips from the hands of these conserva-                  The Choice Is Ours
     tive Christians?                                                                            It is up to us to continue to expand, redefine and reinforce the de-
                                                                                           mocratic and libertarian concepts of our forefathers just as the English
     From Hero to Villain                                                                  people used the concept of a Magna Charta to protect themselves
           In a flash, Bush was transformed from hero (right after 9/11) to                against the abuses of English nobles who originally drafted it to protect
     villain (years after 9/11). But when you really think about it, the De-               themselves against the abuses of the English king. We need to do this to
     mocrats (except for a few like Rep. Barbara Lee) were willing accom-                  create a better world for future Americans and future citizens of the world:
     plices (who were more concerned with their political survival than in                 a world of equal rights for all human beings. This is all within our reach.
     doing what was right). Maybe, we should not be so quick to judge                      In this effort, we can be heroes or we can be villains. The choice is ours.

8 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
                                           Dear Ethan,
                                                  I write this letter shortly after your baptism and first birthday in hopes that one day, you'll read
                                           it. As your ninong, I've been asked to help guide you, especially in your spiritual growth. I'll be the
                                           first to tell you that I'm not sure I'm fully qualified for the part. I'm not really sure what spirituality
                                           means. I'm still discovering that for myself and the much harder part of applying it to my day-to-day
                                           life. But family is important and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play a greater role in your life.
                                                  What I do know is that there is inherent value in listening to those who have lived more
                                           than you and to those who live different lives than you. Listening is a great skill to cultivate
                                           early on. And yes, it goes without saying that your parents are included on this list, so please do
                                           listen to them. You'll be doing both of us a favor. By extension, I guess you'll have to listen to
                                           me too. Call it Asian sensibility. Sure, but strip it down and it's really just practicality. Think of
                                           it as this free pool of experiential knowledge that you can easily dip into.
                                                  From my experience, the question of spirituality is intrinsically tied to the question of why we're
                                           here in the first place. Life, with all its mysteries and unknowns — and the various ideologies, philoso-
                                           phies and religions to explain them, can — I think, be distilled to one thing: effecting positive change,
                                           so that when you leave, the space in which you previously occupied is a better place. To me, this is the
                                           core of our human lives, the essence of our existence. No action is more heroic or worthy or honorable.

A Letter from Ninong                                                                                                                
    by Jordan de Peralta                         I've asked a lot of questions to come to this conclusion. And finding answers to my questions in-
                                           volved listening to a lot of different people. Two in particular have left the strongest impression on me.
  At this time last year, I wrote about          The first person taught me that we as human beings should strive beyond tolerance in our inter-
holding my newborn nephew, the first       actions with each other. We tolerate bees who have the potential to sting and cause us great pain be-
                                           cause they are part of an interconnected system that nourishes the earth. But human beings are not
  in his generation, for the first time.
                                           bees. We live auspicious lives in which we are able to reason and make choices. Our actions should
      I went on to talk about how the      reflect our true potential and tolerance falls short of what we are fully capable. Rather, we should
 concept of family was at the core of      strive towards acceptance, even — and sometimes most especially when we don't understand the
                                           people or the situation around us.
    the marriage equality debate and
                                                 The second person taught me that we should work to build a community where helping each
   how the decisions being presently       other is a common act. We need to cultivate this mindset into habitual actions and practice it until it
    made will have repercussions on        becomes an intrinsic part of our everyday lives. You are blessed to have a family who will not hesitate
                                           to support you in the most difficult times. As you develop your relationships with people outside
  future generations. One year later,
                                           your family, you will find friends who will always stand beside you. You will no doubt be compelled
  I'm writing from Phoenix again, this     to feel the same way and reciprocate their kindness. The true challenge is to extend these actions and
 time about Ethan's baptism and first      emotions outside your circle of trust to others who may be mere acquaintances, strangers, and even
                                           enemies. Kindness should be a commonplace act regardless of who it is directed towards.
   birthday and what it means to me.
                                                 How successful you are at these goals depends on how well you learn to value others before
         As his ninong, or godfather,      yourself. In a world that values the self, this is one of the most difficult things to do. Naturally,
                                           you may sometimes feel that the world revolves around you and that the worth of objects and peo-
       my responsibility is to help his
                                           ple is directly dependent on how well they can make your life better. And there will be moments
         parents nurture his spiritual     where you may feel entitled to certain things to the point you start believing you need or deserve
   growth. The letter here is my first     something. The most dangerous thing to do is to dwell on these selfish thoughts which will surely
                                           lead to more problems. The world has enough to worry about and there is no good reason for you
      real attempt towards that goal.      to add to its burden. Lessen the negative impact you can potentially cause by being a responsible
                                           citizen and realizing that you share this world with others.
                                                                             It is not easy to strive for such ideals, but it is probably the greatest
                                                                        journey that we as individuals can ever take for ourselves. As your
                                                                        ninong, I am happy to take that journey with you, sometimes as your
                                                                        companion, sometimes as your guide, sometimes even as your adver-
                                                                        sary, but always as your ally. You are a realization of your parents'
                                                                        hopes and we are all invested in your future.
                                                                             I will end this first letter by saying that just as you listen to us, so
                                                                        must we listen to you. There is never a point where we stop growing
                                                                        and our capacity to learn is unending. Your life, which will be so differ-
                                                                        ent from our own, will produce its own lessons and stories. We give you
                                                                        our limited wisdom, our finite successes, and lessons from our failures
                                                                        and pray that you will you use them, so that when you leave, you leave
                                                                        this place better than what we could ever be capable of imagining.

                                                                     With all our hopes and pride,
                                                                     Your Uncle Jordan

                                                                                                                        Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 9
                                             1) What was it like growing up?                    board of API Wellness Center, and I served on their board
                                             I was born in Mumbai, India, and grew up in        until I was termed out last year.
                                             Mumbai and Pune, which is a city 100 miles
                                             from Mumbai. I was pretty much a geek              6) What was your motivation for getting involved in
                                             through school and college, and excelled               community groups?
                                             academically, but didn't have a social life and    My initial reason to get involved in community groups
                                             didn't participate in much physical activity.      was purely social... I was new to the Bay Area and wanted
                                                                                                to build a friends circle. Soon, I realized that the groups
                                             2) When did you come to the US?                    provided a support network, and were like second family
                                             I came to the US in 1990 to go to graduate         to me. It also made sense to be involved with groups or
                                             school, in Austin, Texas. While Austin is a        causes that I personally identified with... such as LGBT,
                                             pretty liberal city, there were very few people    Asian, HIV/AIDS. Later on, as I grew more philanthropi-
                                             of color outside of the UT community then.         cally minded, I realized that it was a great way to give
                                             There was of course some culture shock,            back to the community. And, it was my experience volun-
                                                                                  but it was    teering for community groups that helped me switch

         1O QUESTIONS                                                              mitigated
                                                                              by the pres-
                                                                                                careers to the non-profit sector in 2001.

                                                                                                7) Can you describe your newest endeavor?
      Devesh Khatu              ence of several Indians at the school, including one of         I am running 12 marathons in 2009, or one a month
                                my best friends from college who also came to Austin.           on average, to raise funds for Horizons Foundation, the
        is familiar to many                                                                     Bay Area's LGBT community foundation.
                                3) How was your coming out process?
          in GAPA and the
                                I first decided to explore my sexuality about four months       8) What inspired you to take this on?
       community at large.      after coming to the US. While in India, I was too busy aca-     I took up running marathons in 2005, and was running
                                demically to even contemplate coming out... that is if I even   about 3-4 a year until this year. This year, I also had a
         He is also a prime     knew what that meant then. My best friend from college,         milestone birthday... and to commemorate it, I thought
          example of how,       who I was roommates with in Austin, went back to India for      I should do something different, something challenging.

          through commit-
        ment and imagina-
       tion, we can elevate
            our efforts into
           heroic acts. Find
              out about his
            brilliant stroke
             of inspiration.
                                                Boston                                    London                               Los Angeles

                                the winter semester break, and I decided to put a personal      Thus I came up with this idea, and also decided to
                                ad in the local print weekly to meet other gay guys (since      make it into a fundraiser for Horizons Foundation, where
                                I didn't quite have the know-how to meet guys otherwise...      I work.
                                and I was too terrified to try going to bars then).
                                                                                                9) How has your progress been?
                                4) What’s your professional life been like?                     So far, I'm on track. I've run five marathons this year
                                After finishing graduate school, I got a job in the software    (Austin, Napa Valley, Boston, London, Los Angeles).
                                industry in the Bay Area, and moved here in 1992. I             The rest of my schedule for the year is: San Francisco,
                                worked in that career for seven years, realizing progres-       Berlin, Wine Country Marathon (Healdsburg), Nike
                                sively that it wasn't really what I wanted to do in my life.    Women's Marathon (San Francisco), New York City, Phila-
                                Turning 30 got me thinking more about this, and I decided       delphia, California International Marathon (Sacramento).
                                to take the plunge and quit the computer industry. It being     I usually train three days a week, with a long run on
                                1999, when practically anything you bought in the stock         Saturday with the San Francisco Road Runners Club
                                market went up, I decided to try day trading for a living.      (, and shorter runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
                                But everything that goes up must come down, and by mid-
                                2000 I was thinking again about my career options.              10) How can people support your efforts?
                                                                                                I would love for GAPA members and allies to support my
                                5) You’ve also been very involved in a lot of community         efforts. 100% of your funds go directly to the LGBT com-
                                    organizations, right?                                       munity in the Bay Area, since I am bearing the costs of all
                                Yes! I got involved with Trikone within a year of moving to     the marathons (registration, travel, etc). Horizons gives
                                the Bay Area, and was on their board in every capacity          grants to Bay Area LGBT organizations; GAPA has also
                                imaginable, for nearly 10 years. I also became involved         been a recipient of our grants in recent years. You can
                                with GAPA and served on the board for a couple of years         sponsor me at
                                in the mid-1990s. In 2002, I was invited to serve on the        devesh. Thank you for your support!

10 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
Is There A God?
by Kenji Oshima

               I go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays too. This               teeth. Mix that up with a large helping of “you like boys you’re
         wouldn't seem strange, unless you knew me, ‘cause I'm not              going to hell,” and well, you know, you’re screwed. If there was a
         exactly the church-going type. It’s that gay church in the Castro,     god he was scary-stern like the school principal, probably white
         the little purple building on Eureka Street that’s held 12-step        (and old too) with a beard. You know, kind of like Santa Claus’s
         meetings, community gatherings, and even some of GAPA's                vindictive evil twin.
         less-than-glamorous events, but it's still a church.                         When I was old enough (maybe six) I grew out of Madeline’s
               After attending a few thousand 12-step meetings there,           and I'd walk myself home from school. I had to time to waste until
         and some of those non-glamorous GAPA events, it became a               my sister emerged to pick me up, so I'd go play in random yards.
         given that I'd end up going to Sunday “worship” services. But,         Since this was in prehistoric times before video games, I had to
         I'm getting ahead of myself.                                           make do with twigs and dirt. One of my favorite yards, deserted
               My initial childhood exposure to god was in the suburbs of       on weekday afternoons, was a local park, which had a beautiful
         Massachusetts at my family’s home. My father, the über-polite          pristine lake in the middle it. It was a child’s delight — just me, the
         Japanese elder, would occasionally scream "GODDAMMIT!!!"               oak trees, and lots of quiet. No god-cursing pseudo-nanny, no kids
         when something wasn't going right. It generally meant, "Where's        chasing me because I was different (see next paragraph), just a
         that bastard child of mine that made off with my stapler???!!!"        lake, with ducks, and a bench. I loved bringing stale bread and
         Dad was fastidious, everything in the house had a spot, and we         feeding the ducks; which probably made for some fat-ass ducks
         were always to assist.                                                 given how much I did that.
               “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!!” was my other introduction                   Junior high school was the usual teenage rampage (them at
         to god.                                                                me, some of you will recall I was christened “Chink!”), high school
               In terms of taking the Lord's name in vain, and I'd say that's   was a haze of weed, and then my young pretty-boy 20’s spent at
         about as vain as you can get, now that was Madeline Hagen.             the gay bars in Boston fogged over by the few beers that got me
         Madeline was wonderful and tough Irish-Catholic neighbor whose         drunk (Yes, I turn red). Somewhere in my mid-twenties I was
         house I went to after pre-school. Her odd form of nannying took        making myself a cup of tea and broke down sobbing. Yeah, I know
         place when mom and dad were still both at work. Madeline,              kinda pathetic. Maybe I was crying over the horrible china pattern
         whose blunt Boston nature seems to have rubbed off on me, would        (kidding). But, being the practical Asian boy that I was, I set off in
         watch over me and make me lunch: a Fluffernutter Sandwich              search of a therapist.
         (Skippy & marshmallow creme) on Wonder Bread, served with a                  The first few therapists were more like New Age counselors,
         glass of nicely pasteurized and homogenized cow’s milk in a dark-      lovingly nudging me on my journey to self-discovery. They taught
         green 1970's chunky-style glass (my hippy mother is turning in her     me to wish for better, that I was lovable, that I might want to glance
         grave as I write these poison-food words).                             at my family dynamics, and how to meditate. In between Flock of
               Then I'd watch Mr. Rogers, in her living room on the orange      Seagulls haircuts (the band) and Debra Harry's New Wave beats
         shag carpet, in front of the color TV (we only had a black & white     (1981-1985) I began reading Buddhist and New Age literature, and,
         set at my house). But Madeline's living room also had a crucifix on    like a fungus (that you’d want), it crept under my skin and ges-
         the wall, right behind where we sat watching Fred Rogers change        tated a budding sense of spirituality.
         his shoes (and put on that sweater). The cross was spooky and                Eventually the collective preverbal clown-car from my child-
         made Him look all sad, lonely, mostly naked… not exactly appeal-       hood rolled up and its occupants unloaded into full-blown ther-
         ing. She also dragged her kids to Mass every Sunday: A long tedi-      apy: that, as the last kid of my three siblings, I had, in my dad's
         ous ritual that didn’t engage him, included itchy over-starched        words, “Basically grown up an only child.” By puberty: #1 had
         clothing, and finger wagging hypocritical adults. Church didn’t        died at his own hands, #2 was in college in the Midwest, and
         make any sense; it sounded more like detention.                        #3 had moved to Alaska — can you say As-far-away-from-
               So, that was my introduction to god, besides the pledge of       Massachusetts-while-still-remaining-in-the-continental-United-
         allegiance, which had about as much meaning as brushing my             States-as-you-can-get?

                                                                                                                       Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 11
                  A few therapists (and years later) the laundry list of child-          cloth, thank you, but what I got instead was The Lord. Then a
           hood funhouse topics had boiled down to: The family “friend”                  few weeks later he showed up again and we took a walk to my
           who did more than befriend me, my twisted racial sense of self                childhood lake (Jesus not Jason).
           (check one box!), losing my brother, the usual parental complaints,                 So, let's be clear, I'm not saying I'm reborn or anything, but
           and … you get the picture.                                                    just that this all-loving image keeps showing up. I'm not seeing
                  This began a twenty-year journey of sorting out old, dusty,            him in a water stain above my toilet, or as an apparition in my
           emotionally charged memories. I spilled my guts and pulled my-                burnt toast, just this sense of a loving, gentle, über-compassionate
           self back together, and in the process decided what of my past I'd            being. And then I realized that “god” had never “left me” but I'd
           keep and what I'd toss. My therapy took me                                                     found whatever I needed back then at the lake:
           through six years of group work, four 12-step                                                  safety, love, peace (and fat ducks).
           programs, four major therapists, medication                                                           If you'd told me twenty years ago that I'd be-
           (woo-hoo!), a 30-day survival course, dozens                                                   lieve that we are god, that I'd meditate and pray
           of weekend retreats, art therapy classes, yoga,                                                daily, that once and a while I see (not see, but envi-
           Qi Gong, grief groups, Tai Chi, meditation,                                                    sion, OK?) the image of a loving Christ in some of
           one really great punching bag for two years,                                                   my meditations, and finally learn to do for others
           and a partridge in a pear tree.                                                                I'd have asked you to pass that joint back 'cause boy was
                  I emerged from the Superfund garbage                                                    this stuff good!
           dump that had been my psyche, got rid of                                                              To know me is to not immediately see a spiri-
           festering boyfriends (hot sex, horrible relation-                                              tual person: I still have my tattoos, I still swear, I'm
           ships), took better jobs (10 years in restaurants                                              still a self-described Happy Pervert, and I still occa-
           be-gone!), went to school (Bachelors), eventu-                                                 sionally smoke weed. But I've added counting my
           ally ended my 12-step career, learned to say                                                   blessings, passing out water bottles when asked for
           “no,” and learned that (thank you very much)                                                   spare change, giving away stuff because I don't like
           I was quite happy with who I was (smart and                                                    owning too much, volunteering at church, repairing
           not so ugly after all!)                                                                wheelchairs for the homeless, and letting my creative
                  The cherry on top of this emotional growth           the more I invite          geek with my art.
           sundae was that I ended up back in my Fluffernutter                                           To know me is to also not immediately see that a
                                                                       the daydreaming
           sandwich days. I realized that I've never stopped                                      lifetime of difficulties has brought about an almost daily
           being that little kid, there just was a little 30-year      kid that was me            appreciation for life. Each night is a small death, with
           angry phase.                                                into my daily life,        each day a new birth. I get to begin again. I learned to
                  The gift I found is to live life like a kid with a   the more everything appreciate that I have legs that function just fine, that I
           new stick and a freshly painted white picket fence:                                    have eyesight, that I have shelter, food, work, friendship,
                                                                       seems fresh, new
           Do what you love and ignore what the grownups                                          service to others, but most importantly, and pretty much
           think. I discovered that the more I invite that open, and sans the adult-              only importantly I have...... love.
           funny, sweet, daydreaming kid into my daily life,           hood judgmental                   Long ago I stopped waiting for my stoic Japanese dad
           the more everything seems fresh, new, and sans              frosting that’s been to say, “I love you.” It wasn't something in his or my
           the adulthood judgmental frosting that had been
                                                                       smeared across             mom’s, or sister’s, or brothers’ original lexicon. I just
           smeared across everything.                                                             started saying it, because I meant it. I never expected it
                  Something happened. Something grew.
                                                                                                  back, I just gave it away. If you want someone off the
           Something without words.                                                               phone, especially Asian parents, just start staying “I love
                  I can't explain it and can't quite put my finger on it, but this       you,” it freaks people out. I told my ex I love him, I tell my friends,
           odd process began to emerge. On my journey things started to                  and I commonly sign off emails with "Love.” And you know
           happen by themselves: perfect coincidences, feeling safe at                   what? It spreads: my brother says it, my sister says it, and even
           church, being a sponsor and a mentor, hearing the words of                    my 84-year-old dad says it. It's a seemingly dangerous word in
           advice I'd given to others come back at me, crying my eyes out                this instant-gratification-just-add-reality-TV culture.
           without knowing why, feeling a bolt of electric connection with
                                                                                               Is there a god?
           street people I'd exchanged “god bless you's” with, feeling per-
                                                                                               I'm not sure, but I am sure that the more I focus on what's
           fectly fine alone with myself, and realizing that my straight-
                                                                                         good, the more I take care of others, the more I ask for help and
           laced chiropractor was a shaman in disguise.
                                                                                         reveal myself, the more profound my life gets. David Lee Roth said
                  I discovered that giving allows me something wonderful in
                                                                                         that a huge yacht didn't give him happiness, but sailed right up
           return, and when I can really see and drink up the beauty of daily
                                                                                         next to it – I'll take the yacht, but I'll sink the sucker if it ever gets in
           life I'm awash in abundance. I sometimes can pray and get the
                                                                                         the way of my connection to The Divine, or Love, or Happiness.
           parking I need, sometimes next to where I sit waiting in my car.
                                                                                               How about you?
           This became the training-wheels-version of my introduction to a
                                                                                               What will you choose today? If you knew today was your
           construct that there is something larger than me; we’re not talk-
                                                                                         last day on earth, who would you say “I love you” to?
           ing Bear Night at the Lone Star.
                  In a guided imagery I was led on recently, you know one
                                                                                                Kenji Oshima is a writer, designer, Success Coach, and Mac-
           of those, "You're in a beautiful place, close your eyes, hear the
                                                                                                Geek-For-Hire living and loving in San Francisco. He keeps
           birds chirping,” I visited my elementary school, and the weirdest                    meaning to come to more GAPA events and is busy with
           character showed up. Not Ronald McDonald, he's just creepy,                          church, building/breaking things, friends, and just published a
           but the last guy I'd expect me to see. Yep, it was an image of Jesus                 piece about Margaret Cho in the book My Diva: 65 Gay Men on
           Christ. I'd have preferred an image of Jason Scott Lee in a loin-                    the Women Who Inspire Them. And he’s single.

12 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
My Visit With Oscar Wilde  
 by John L. Silva                                                    visiting Isadora Duncan. They wear flowing dresses. The sad
                                                                     and intense faces visit Piaf. The poseurs visit Sarah Bernhardt.
       It was my last day in Paris. I had seen the museums I
                                                                     The lesbians Gertrude Stein. Bearded men visit Balzac or Na-
 wanted to see. I paid my homage to familiar attractions, the Eif-
                                                                     dar. With you, I thought at first you were a Proust disciple.
 fel, the Seine, and the café I hung out in over a generation ago.
                                                                     But your eyes tell me you came for Wilde.”
       One last long lunch and I looked at my guidebook to find
                                                                           I laughed. “Yes, yes, I came for Oscar,” and entered the
 the Métro stop. The destination was on the same subway line
                                                                     cemetery gates.
 nearby, no station changes. I was going to visit Oscar Wilde’s
                                                                           The pathway is gently inclined with cobblestones. And
 grave at Le Père Lachaise Cemetery. In a moving train, its win-
                                                                     Oscar is up on the far end of the hill. The texture of each stone
 dows whizzing past embracing lovers leaning on posts, elderly
                                                                     is quaint at first but I walk cautiously navigating indents and
 ladies clutching bags, children laughing, and violinists playing
                                                                     keeping balance. In my younger years, walking in foreign cities,
 – life rewinds - like scrolling down the years on a computer to
                                                                     my steps were nimble and intuitive. But in recent times, there
 reach your birth in a matter of seconds. Was my long life just
                                                                     had been missteps which caused needless sprains and stubbed
 that short a click away?
                                                                     toes. My light footed days seemed to have gone.
       I remember leaning on a ledge by
                                                                           Halfway up, I turned around to see the view and the Eiffel
 a bedroom window. Time magazine
                                                                     made its distant presence. We tourists have always gaped at it,
 was in front of me, pages open to
                                                                     front and center. Far away, the tower reveals its sensual curve up
 pictures of Paris besieged with stu-
                                                                     to the sky, an alluring sight its citizens take in daily. When it was
 dents throwing rocks and Molotovs at
                                                                     built it was reviled as a monstrosity. Now, it is the country’s
 the police. That French Spring of 1968
                                                                     icon. Another hopeful sign that tastes and mores can change.
 would bring ten million workers to
                                                                           Forty years after the tumultuous French Spring, I am in
 the street, shut the city, and paralyze
                                                                     Paris trying to find a continuity. They were against the war in
 the country. The students and work-
                                                                     Iraq like they were in Vietnam. But they love nuclear power.
 ers wanted an end to all semblances
                                                                     There are new and stimulating museums with provocative ex-
 of order and civility, the same ossified
                                                                     hibitions. But racial tensions have increased with the influx of
 rituals that maintained a war in
                                                                     immigrants. Cohn Bendit, one of the student leaders then, now
 Southeast Asia, suppressed the rights of workers in their coun-
                                                                     heads the Green Party in the European Parliament. The results
 try, and perpetuated bourgeois notions of morality.
                                                                     of the revolution, like many others in world history, are mixed.
       Looking out onto a well manicured garden, trees draped              I crossed an intersection with a different street name. I
 with cascading orchids, the anarchy on the other side of the        looked at my map and where I was supposed to be had a differ-
 globe filled me with excitement. I turned around to look at         ent name. I looked behind and around and there was no one to
 Xavy, sleeping, naked on the bed and I felt a stir in me again.     help me. A slight shiver passed and childhood ghost stories by
 We had made love the whole afternoon and he was spent, his          cruel nannies came back. I walked towards a bench covered
 muscular body in repose, his curved moist mouth slightly open.      with fall leaves and sat to get my bearing. Gravestone reliefs
 I approached stealthily to kiss his lips and he stirred, moaned     and statues around me began their lament. A dog who lost his
 slightly, and continued his sleep. I went back to the window        master. A classical maiden softly playing a lyre. An angel posed
 once more and vowed to visit Paris. The revolution there would      over a shrouded body. A sad cherubim, head tilted downward.
 welcome me. And I would pay homage to Oscar.                              In this space of Paris, I was surrounded by the sorrow of cen-
       From the subway exit the cemetery entrance was just me-       turies carved on stone and marble. My own sorrows are recalled;
 ters away. An enterprising young man was selling maps to the        loved ones and friends have gone and in increasing numbers
 cemetery. I took one and unfolding it, he looked and me and         through the years. The saddest remembrances are those who died
 said, “You want to visit Oscar Wilde.”                              much younger than me. I had a high school classmate who died a
       I was taken aback. “How did you know?”                        week after graduation. He was 17. I think of the seating in my
       “Ah” he smiles. “After a few months, I can guess who is       classroom and cross those faces who have passed on, vainly find-

                                                                                                          Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 13
   ing clues to death’s pattern and who would be next. There is none. The       OSCAR WILDE. A naked Mayan god, with massive stone wings,
   length of one’s life is random, like the shuffle mode of an Ipod.            attached to one side of the rectangular monument, is lifting Oscar to
        Two women in embrace passed me. I surmise they are visiting             the heavens, to a peaceful place.
   Getrude Stein. That’s in the direction of Oscar and I                                             The end of the 19th century was still not a good time
   follow them. It was my painful childhood that intro-                                        for men who loved men. Oscar had become a writer and
   duced me to Oscar. I was a different boy, delicate in my                                    his plays were critically acclaimed. Early on, he distin-
   walk and giggled in my talk. I drew flowers and pirou-                                      guished himself as a lecturer, went to the United States
   etted in the garden. I had no interest in sports and was                                    and traveled all the way to the West and in the company
   happier with a book by the seashore. This just was not                                      of cowboys, spoke about aesthetics and the arts realizing
   acceptable to other young boys. I was taunted and                                           one’s perfection. He married and his wife bore two boys.
   called hurtful names. This cruelty did not stop through-                                    But one day he fell in love with a young man named
   out childhood for I refused to change my ways. In high                                      Bosie, the affair lasting four years. Bosie’s father, an ambi-
   school, the taunting included a threatening violence. I                                     tious politician charged him with “Gross Indecency” and,
   needed a foil against the daily remorseless derision.                                       in a celebrated trial, Oscar was found guilty and sent to
        I had been part of a high school play pro-                                                    two years of hard labor in jail.
   duction of The Importance of Being Earnest. I                                                           Jail term ruined Oscar’s health, and except for
   worked the lights and I was given a script to                                                      one book about his prison stay, no longer wrote.
   read. The words were Oscar’s. I was enchanted.                                                     When he was released, he wandered throughout
   Then I found his book, The Picture of Dorian Gray                                                  Europe staying with friends or in cheap hotels.
   in the library and wept at its homoerotic theme.                                                   There was one summer with Bosie, but the photo-
                                                                                                      graphs of the pair show Oscar wane and worn with
                   “The world is a stage                                                              living. The bravura gone. Oscar died soon after in a
                but the play is badly cast.”                                                   hotel in Paris.
           “There is no sin except stupidity.”                                                       There are numerous lipstick marks on Oscar’s
                                                                                               tomb. A young gay couple from San Francisco laid flow-
          “There is only one thing in life worse                                               ers. I leaned on a tree and for a long time gazed at his
           than being talked about, and that is                                                chiseled name. There is a small warning sign in brass,
                  not being talked about.”                                                     not to defile the historic monument which had been
                                                                                               restored in 1992. The warning has no effect since the
         I started to collect his bon mots and wrote them in
   my diary. And later when I saw photographs of him,                                          Mayan god’s penis has been mutilated. I stroked his
   posed as a dandy, caped like a musketeer, long flowing                                      tomb and my finger followed the groove of his name
                                                                                               and said thank you. There are so many of us gratefully
   hair, one arm cocked to his side, I was smitten. I already
   had the mannerisms and the defiance. The quotes I                                           taught to subdue malice with wit, to record life’s foibles
   would take from him, until I made my own too.                                               with humor, and above all, to exalt art over everything.
         I became a snob in school disdainful of bullies                                             I walk slowly back to the entrance, a youthful promise
   and cretins. And if they were hurting, I forgave, like                                      to visit now fulfilled. Before returning to my hotel I stopped
   Oscar said,                                                                                 at a cafe and as people strolled by returning from work,
                                                                                               running to a rendezvous, or kissing in the dying light, I
             “Always forgive your enemies —                                                    raised a toast to my dear Oscar.
             nothing annoys them so much.”                                                           There was no tear shed that day because morals and
         My school uniform was accessorized. A sweater                                         laws that punished and eventually killed Oscar still lurk
   was in orange mohair. Tawdry bracelets and huge                                             throughout the world. In Iran, they hang us. In India,
   watches and my sister’s purple belt were standard. If                                       Malaysia, Singapore and other former British colonies, the
   in the past I wanted to melt in the background, now                                         law that did Oscar in still remain. And currently in the
   my presence was known throughout. I became a                                                Philippines, there is a pending bill that would, if passed,
   writer for our school newspaper, and spun poems for the journal. Being       make freedom of artistic expression a crime of up to 12 years. Certainly
   the editor of the senior yearbook, I threw out all the silly macho phrases   there has been progress but society’s enlightenment is not linear and
   and replaced it with my ideal gentleman, pursuing excellence, aesthet-       upward. It cycles up and down. That afternoon though wearied with
   ics, and camaraderie. Photographs I took of handsome classmates with         age, I was renewed, ready to go into the fray again and uphold the free-
   bodies in youthful perfection and who succumbed to my ideals were            dom of simply being that Oscar so elegantly fought and lost his life for.
   lavishly laid out on the yearbook. I would subvert the norm. And Oscar             Oscar, the pervasive optimist would have the last word from his
   was my brainchild. The school boors? In Oscar’s words,                       Mayan tomb,

                “Morality is simply the attitude we adopt                       “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
               towards people whom we personally dislike.”                           I left a rainy Paris early the next morning.
        In the end, I disarmed them and they adored me. Like sleeping
   Xavy. The map instructs me to turn left, Oscar’s road. I quicken my               John L. Silva was the first Executive Director of GAPA Community HIV
   pace. A gust of wind blows and gold autumn leaves swirl about                     Project (now A&PI Wellness Center). Among his many current pro-
   floating slowly downward. Thoreau once said, these vibrant leaves                 jects, he also writes on various matters, including Gay issues from the
                                                                                     Philippines where he now resides. Some of those pieces are in his
   in their last moments, teach us how to die gracefully.                            blog Any old friends from the early
        As expected, Oscar’s tomb was radically different. No crosses                GAPA days may reach him at and if they plan a
   or weeping angels. No morbid phrase, nor a favorite quote. Just                   Philippine visit, let him know. Fab welcome dinners are in order.

14 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
Canto Five                                                        
                                                             by Paul Ocampo 

Via Centro. On Center Street, Berkeley, California.                             I tried to conceal my frustration, his mind plagued by her
            Sabrina zigzagged her way through the polished oak tables      decision to leave her second husband George. She was first
      and chairs, holding the best bottle of champagne the house           married to a gay guy, white, twenty-five years ago, when she
      offered. The restaurant was fortunately still quite empty a half     was eighteen. She was an international student from Malaysia.
      hour before noon, having opened only fifteen minutes earlier.        She did love her gay husband. She had a thing for cute gay
      The tables of red oak were their finest, with white porcelain        boys. I met her in my course on Dante. In her mid-forties, she
      plates and silver forks and knives glittering under the soft yel-    came back to finish her degree.
      low lamps that hung from the ceiling. The silk white napkins              “I’ve just been busy. What are we reading now for Middle-
      folded neatly into swans further ornamented the already ele-         ton?”
      gant display table settings. A quaint small bar in one corner             “We’ve started reading The Letters of Abelard and Heloise.”
      displayed golden and velvet bottles of wine and champagne.                “I guess I’m skipping the latter half of Augustine’s Confes-
      Beside the bar, smoke billowed.                                      sions. I just delved into the correspondence of the ill-fated lov-
            Sabrina laid the bottle of champagne at the edge of            ers—Abelard and Heloise…So full of passion, although Abe-
      the table, retrieved her corkscrew from the pocket of her apron,     lard can be a fucking asshole.”
      and with little or no effort, pulled the cork off. Laughter and           Driven by a different kind of lust—a passion for literature—
      revelry erupted at the sound of the loud pop. Effervescence          we were lovers. Like Abelard and Heloise’s, our bond was cre-
      spewed forth like lava from the bottle’s mouth and before any        ated by our study and appreciation of the classics. We spoke in
      more bubbles could escape, Sabrina poured tiny amounts into          the tongues of poets and writers as quotes flowed forth from
      our champagne glasses. The bubbly wine fine and crisp to the         our mouths. We lived vicariously in reading these works. We
      palate, Pauline nodded her head in approval and urged me to          assumed characters — I was Dante to Pauline’s Beatrice. Paris
      take a sip of my champagne.                                          to her Helen. Other times I was Aeneas to her Dido. But be-
            “So when are you and your fiance getting married?”             cause of the difference in our ages, the more apt comparison
      Pauline asked Sabrina.                                               would be Ben Braddock and Mrs. Robinson from the film The
            “I’m not sure, but probably late this year. My parents abso-   Graduate. Our so-called affair had now lasted for months. Our
      lutely adore him. They’ve invited us to join them in the Baha-       love for literature brought us a desirable lightness.
      mas next week,” Sabrina replied.                                          “Here’s your salad.” Sabrina came back with the appetizer
            “Oh, how lovely! You’re in love. I can see it in your eyes.    that Pauline had ordered. “Enjoy, you guys.” She left and ca-
      They’re glowing.”                                                    tered to two gentlemen who just walked in.
            “Oh are they?” Sabrina blushed as she covered her cheeks            Pauline did not touch her salad. Instead, she told me
      with her hands. “I’ll check on your order, I’ll be right back.”      about her younger brother Michael who died when he was
            I smiled at Pauline as she reached out to touch my face.       young. Back in Malaysia, her family kept him out of sight from
      She managed to strike something within. My smile turned              friends and relatives.
      awkward when I took another sip.                                          “What was his illness?” I asked.
            “Pauline, you know you shouldn’t.”                                  “He was mentally ill. And he was sick all the time. My
            “Oh hush, boy. Don’t lecture me. It’s my own life. Besides,    mother, I think, was almost ashamed of him. Although he did
      you aren’t a doctor yet. It’s my life to live as I please. Cheers,   exhaust her. But he was a sweet child. Such a sweet child.”
      my sweetie.” Pauline had liver disease. The toast was made in             “You took care of him, like he was your own.”
      reluctance.                                                               “I was such a mother to him. So much more. You remind
            A clink from the two champagne glasses reverberated in our     me of him. Such sweetness. Sometimes I think you are Michael
      ears. At the sound, one was lifted to lofty heights where the wind   coming back to me, entering my life once more.” I thought of
      blew away anxieties. The other was submerged into bog of guilt       my mother, who went back to the Philippines to say goodbye to
      and concern for a friend, whose health waned before his eyes.        her younger brother dying of cancer. Pauline briefly stared into
            “She’s so lovely,” Pauline commented on Sabrina’s calm,        space above my head. The previous times that Pauline had
      youthful beauty. To her, it was a soft whisper of a simple mel-      treated me for lunch at Via Centro resurfaced in my mind. They
      ody.                                                                 were happier times.
            “You’ve been absent this whole week in Middleton’s class,           I had always been close to my mother and this explained
      and it’s only the third week of the semester,” I said.               my gravitation towards Pauline. Pauline would always tell me

                                                                                                               Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 15
            that it was okay to pursue my sexuality, to hell with the stric-      God knows I’ve tried. All these gay boys are gonna be so lucky.
            tures that did not allow you to be yourself. She would tell me to     Oh wait, you are involved. How’s Charles?”
            live my life. Just having come out, I would feel decentered, and           “He’s okay. He’s coming over tonight.”
            uncertain about myself, my identity, and in these moments, she             “What about your other boy?”
            would always quote Oscar Wilde: “Live! Live the wonderful                  “What are you talking about?”
            life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always               “Oh, come on. You know…him! The one who studies at
            searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing…”                  the café.”
                  Sabrina once again visited our table and this time brought           “It’s just a harmless crush. I can’t believe you. You know I
            the main entrees. She served Pauline her order of polenta and         have a boyfriend. Why bring him up?” I defended myself, but
            steak; the lamb shanks with penne for me. Smiling, she said,          unable to hide the blush and the smile that instantaneously
            “Enjoy.” Again, Pauline barely touched her plate.                     appeared.
                  The question ached in me, like a prisoner rattling his jail          “Oh come on. You’re such a pussy. Just say hello to him.
            and screaming to get out. It kept looming and pervading as I          What have you to lose?”
            watched the radiance in Pauline’s eyes. But it couldn’t be                 As much as I insisted that nothing could come of this at-
            avoided any longer. But Pauline brought it up herself.                traction, I loved talking about it with Pauline and hearing all
                  “George is taking it pretty well. He just wants me to be        her encouragements that something could happen.
            happy.”                                                                    “Ummm…Remember Charles?”
                  “Why, Pauline? George is such a great guy.                           “You are hopeless, my love. You act like you two are married.”
            He’s loved you since high school. He even tracked you from                 “You are the one who is married, remember? Twice and
            Malaysia years after you left… found you and married you.             some affairs in between.”
            You are throwing away everything just like that?”                          “I don’t think you can really count my marriage with
                  “Doesn’t it sound like the perfect romance? When he picks       Steve. We were only twenty then. Married him with a pur-
            me up after class, I tell him what happens in class, what we’re       pose—I mean, I did and still love him very much—but I could-
            reading, the things I find interesting in lectures…he listens but     n’t have him. Still, I have no regrets marrying him.”
            he doesn’t give a shit. We can’t communicate the way I can                 “And you left him, just as now you are leaving George.”
            with you. I’m dying of monotony and boredom. You don’t                     “He left me. Sweetie, let’s stop talking about me. Let’s talk
            know how suffocating it is…when your husband doesn’t have             about you. So you and Charles are doing well?”
            your passions. We have nothing to talk about.”                             “Yes, we are.”
                  “I know. It’s just that…well, he cares so much for you. You          “May I ask why you love him?”
            don’t even have to lift a finger. He treats you like a queen.”             I was surprised by the question that it took me sometime
                  “There’s a wall between us. He just watches TV. I read on       to absorb and understand the question. I had never been asked
            my own. I’m tired of this. I am lonely. I want the independence       why. It was always do you love him.
            that you have…to do as you please. Not having a curfew. It’s               “I love him…because…because he understands me and we
            my life! It’s my fucking life!”                                       both need each other…”
                  It was her own life. It was her life to live as she pleased.         “But really why do you love him? You can surely find
                  “I’d trade everything I have for poverty if I can have my       understanding and reliance from other people.”
            life back. I don’t want to be a wife cooped up and weighted                I couldn’t give her an answer.
            down.”                                                                     She just smiled at me. She could sense a loss of compo-
                  “It looks like I won’t be able to change your mind. I feel so   sure, an utter failure of articulation, from me. “It’s okay,
            responsible.”                                                         sweetie. I actually don’t know the answer to that either, after
                  “When I said it was your fault, I was only kidding. Oh,         having loved a lot of men. I just didn’t want you to be in love
            sweetie! You’ve done so much for me. You’ve allowed me to             with being in love.”
            breathe. You’ve granted me my life back.”                                   Sabrina came by to take their empty plates away and in-
                  “And so what happens next?”                                     quire if we wanted any dessert. Pauline ordered a glass of Ries-
                  “Don’t worry, my dear. Eat your food. You haven’t even          ling. I was fine.
            touched your plate.”                                                       Sabrina came back with her wine. I just watched Pauline.
                  Pauline gladly went back to eating, with nothing to bother      There was something in the golden yellow of her eyes that con-
            or distract her mind. My mind, though, was not on my food,            cealed a part of her. It was a little girl’s vulnerability.
            and I only began to eat to appease Pauline. Pauline poured                 I felt indebted once again after finding that our lunch cost
            herself another glass of champagne. She took my glass and             Pauline another eighty dollars, with a nice tip for Sabrina. I
            filled it to the top.                                                 offered to pay for my share, but like a mother, she refused.
                  “Drink up, sweetie.”                                                 “Thank you, Pauline” was all I could say. We bid Sabrina
                  At that very moment, the veneer of adulthood about              farewell when we exited the restaurant and braced the fierce
            Pauline started to diminish. There was childishness in her            winds. We both went their separate ways after a friendly kiss
            wanting to escape it all. The rebel, the romantic, the adventurer     and promised to give each other a call. In his lofty citadel sat
            in her manifested in the works we had read. Her roles seemed          Aeolus, scepter in hand, taming the passions that burnt in our
            to excuse her, justify her, free her from culpability because it      hearts and showed his strength through the rage of the winds.
            was your prerogative to live the life you want. Is the life that I
            was leading hers to covet, to mimic, to make as her own?
                  Chastity was never intended for Dido anyway. She wept                Paul Ocampo is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts
            and committed suicide not for her husband (Sichneus?) but for              in Creative Writing at Arizona State University. He helped
                                                                                       Maxine Hong Kingston edit the anthology Veterans of
            Aeneas. Her vow of faithfulness and the memory of her hus-
                                                                                       War, Veterans of Peace, which includes his short story
            band were tested by the change of seasons and crumbled be-                 "Butterfly." He has been published in Lodestar Quarterly,
            neath her. All for love.                                                   Marginalia, and Walang Hiya. He also earned a Master of
                  “Thank goodness you are gay. I would’ve seduced you.                 Arts in Asian American Studies at UCLA.

16 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
Runway Takes Off August 1st!
                                                                                                      to its purpose as a unique celebration of individual creativity,
                                                                                                      where each person can flaunt their most fantastic inclinations.
                                                                                                      At its core, however, Runway is also a celebratory showcase of
                                                                                                      Asian and Pacific Islander achievement, a concept exercised in
                                                                                                      every aspect, from the creativity of the candidates on stage, to
                                                                                                      the featured entertainment, to our esteemed panel of judges.

                                                                                                      The electricity builds as our Runway candidates get themselves
                                                                                                      primed and ready. It takes a concentrated assault on the title to
                                                                                                      prepare for an exciting year of fame, personal appearances and a
                                                                                                      multitude of perks that only come with a royal pedigree. With
                                                                                                      photo shoots and rehearsals coming up, each individual will soon
                                                                                                      be caught up in a whirlwind of preparation for the event.

                                                                                                      We've gone to great lengths to make this year’s event special.
                                Mark your calendars and get set for Runway 2009, the 21st
                                                                                                      Once again, the fabulous Tita Aida is hosting the event. With
                                Annual Mr. & Miss GAPA Pageant, coming your way Satur-
                                                                                                      another top-notch panel of judges, as well as glittering glamour
                                day, August 1st, 7:00 PM at the elegant Herbst Theater, 401
                                                                                                      from Saketumi and Ethnie Cali, Mr. & Miss GAPA 2008,
                                Van Ness Avenue, in San Francisco’s historic Civic Center.
                                                                                                      Runway 2009 promises to be another explosive evening of
                                Through the years Runway has become a much anticipated                entertainment, camp, comedy and fun. For more information,
                                spectacle of glamour and pulchritude, all the while staying true      please email:

GAPA Bulletin Board
                                                       GAPArap                                          once a month, followed by a facilitated discussion of various
                                                       Topic: “Emotional Intimacy”                      topics. Our conversations are informal and we encourage atten-
                                                       — Are You Man Enough?                            dees to participate at their own pace.
                                                       Saturday, July 11, 7pm
                                                       74 New Montgomery #206, San Francisco            Attendance is free and confidentiality is observed. Please bring a
                                                       What does it mean to "get a little closer"       dish or dessert to share at the potluck dinner. You do not have to
                                these days? We may know what it looks like to be physically             be a GAPA member, but you must be a gay or bisexual API
                                closer on a date, in a club, or at a GAPA social event...but what       man, and at least 35 years of age. To arrange for BART train
                                does emotional closeness look like? What does it mean to allow          pickup or for any additional info, please email GAPA 35-Plus
                                yourself to be open and maybe a little "vulnerable" with friends or     Coordinator Dion Wong:
                                loved ones and why might it be worth the risk? Join us for a can-
                                did discussion of the ups and downs of emotional intimacy in our                                GAPA Men’s Chorus
                                community - whether it be in relationships with significant others,
                                                                                                                                Seeks New Members
                                friends or family. Hosted by member Victor Mo and Facilitator                                   Perhaps the first ethnically based choral
                                Sheening Lin. Limited to 25 people. RSVP by July 8 requested                                    group, but certainly the longest lasting
                                -                                                                                and most enduring organization of its
                                                                                                                                kind, GAPA Men’s Chorus was formed in
                                gaparap is a conversation group for gay Asian & Pacific Islander        1989 as a showcase for the vocal music talents of gay & bisexual
                                (API) men. We get together once each calendar quarter and we            Asian Pacific Islander men. Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary,
                                talk about things like dating, families, being gay and API in the       the Chorus is actively seeking new members to join its ranks.
                                workplace, etc. We encourage people to participate in whatever
                                way makes them comfortable. It's okay to just sit and listen to         Gay API men at all skill levels are encouraged to participate. The
                                what others have to say. For info on upcoming topics, please            Chorus meets every Monday night from 7:00-9:00, and joining is
                                email: or visit                            a painless, audition-free process. If you’re interested in develop-
                                                                                                        ing your vocal skills in a warm and relaxed atmosphere, there’s a
                                                       GAPA 35-Plus                                     place for you here. For more info, email:
                                                       Topic: Dating for 35+ G/B API Guys
                                                       Sunday, July 12, 6pm                                              GAPA/George Choy
                                                       2321 Darwin Street, Hayward, CA                                   Memorial Scholarship
                                                       How different is dating at age 35 and                             Postmark deadline for submissions is July 31,
                                                       over? In this meeting we will talk about                          2009. Grant awards are up to $1000 and appli-
                                                                                                                         cants must be at least 25% API heritage; are in
                                the dating process including finding the guy to date and planning
                                                                                                                         the process of applying to, or are currently at-
                                the date and about what worked and what did not.
                                                                                                                         tending, a post-secondary undergraduate institu-
                                GAPA 35-Plus is a social and conversational group open only to          tion in one of the nine Bay Area counties; and have a grade
                                gay/bi API guys who are at least 35 years of age. It is a safe          point average (GPA) of 2.75 or better. Applications are available
                                space for this group of guys to chat, socialize and learn from          for downloading from the GAPA website: For
                                each other's experiences. It meets for dinner (usually potluck)         additional details, please email:

                                                                                                                                           Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 17
 Visiting Valhalla and the Vikings
 (And Some Norwegian Wood)
              by R. Bernardo
                     When I was a child, I was fascinated by Viking mythology.        them smiled, and soon after, the other one looked my way and
              I found myself drawn to the colorful pictures of the Viking gods.       smiled as well.
              The depictions of Thor (god of thunder) riding his fiery chariot               After dinner, I casually strolled along the mountain ridge,
              with his golden hair and beefy arms excited me and made me              taking photos of the harbor below when the two men approached
              want to be a Viking. Night after night, I read how Thor battled the     me to inquire where I was from. Tor was the alpha male—rough-
              giant sea serpent, Jormundgand and then valiantly die and get           looking, muscular with a trimmed, bristly blond beard. I wanted to
              whisked away by the angel-like Valkyries to the magical after-          run my fingers through his beard. Lars by contrast, was slightly
              world of “Valhalla.”                                                    smaller and relatively hairless. After a few pleasantries, and
                     During the summer of 2008, at the age of 40, I finally got to    after realizing that they were attracted to this strange Filipino
              visit the land of the Vikings: Norway. I decided to visit Norway at     from San Francisco, Lars explained that they lived in Bergen and
              the end of June because I’ve always wanted to see the natural           that Tor was heading to Oslo in the morning. I told them that I
              phenomena called the Midnight Sun — no, not the bar in the              too was headed for Oslo — so it was decided that Tor and I would
              Castro. When visiting countries located above the Arctic Circle         travel to Oslo together. I headed back to my hotel barely able to
              during the summer, one can experience twenty-four hours of              contain my sense of adventure and excitement.
              sunlight. At midnight, the Norwegian sky looks hypnotic and                    The next day, Tor and I met up and began our journey to
              magical.                                                                Norway’s capital. We spent the entire day on buses, trains and
                     Bergen is about one third the size of San Francisco and it       boats to see the world-famous fjords. Fjords are large, finger-like
              was also once the largest city in Norway until Oslo surpassed           mountains with steep sides that meet the sea. Although Tor
              Bergen by the 1830s. Most visitors spend their time around the          spent his entire life in Norway, he had never visited many of the
              town’s harbor called Bryggen (pronounced “broo-yehn”). That’s           other cities. So, we were equally excited about the boat trip.
              where you’ll find a very active outdoor fish market every morning              The actual cruise lasted only two hours, but the scenery was
              with lots of delicious raw pickled herring for breakfast and lunch      spectacular! We stayed on the top deck the entire time taking pho-
              sandwiches made of fresh salmon, raw tuna and boiled shellfish.         tos non-stop. I could not get my mind off the mesmerizing fjords—
              You’ll also find dozens of souvenir stands that sell everything         and Tor’s sexy body. I stared at him as he stood against a backdrop
              from plastic Viking helmets with horns to knitted sweaters to           of high, narrow mountains rising out of the Norwegian Sea.
              imitation reindeer pelts. I bought a few postcards to remember                 Tor was an average Norwegian man, standing at six feet,
              this beautiful city and its beautiful people.                           three inches and he had a rugged demeanor. Perhaps it was his
                     When I say beautiful, I mean that every Norwegian man,           hairy chest, his big hands, his deep blue eyes—or his friendly
              woman and child looked beautiful. The Norwegian men were                smile. Tor was a true outdoorsman; he enjoyed skiing, hiking and
              gigantic, yet lean. They usually had blond or light reddish-brown       running. Behind him, the fog gently wrapped itself around the
              hair. The women were similarly statuesque with long, blond hair         mountains creating a magical mist of both haze and blue sky.
              and the prettiest blue eyes. When I stared at these women, the          I felt like I was in a dream.
              gay man in me was very tempted to go heterosexual — at least                   Alongside the boat, eagles followed us through most of the
              during my stay in Norway. The children of Norway were all plati-        trip. They reminded me of the mythic Valkyries soaring into the
              num blond balls of energy. I didn’t see a lot of strollers, but I did   air. Some of the children held out their hands as the birds ate
              see a lot of babies running around the parks with their parents         bits of bread directly out of their hands. When we got to the tiny
              playfully chasing after them.                                           town of Flam, we took a train that snaked through the hills and
                     After brief visits to the aquarium and the antique maritime      past large waterfalls toward Oslo.
              museum, I took a funicular (a diagonal train) to the top of Floyen             Oslo is a cosmopolitan city with half a million people and 7-
              mountain (at 1000 feet) and had dinner at Floien Folkrestaurant.        11 stores on almost every corner. Tor and I spent the afternoon
              The delicious food and sweeping views of Bergen made me feel            at the Nobel Peace Center, Edvard Munch Museum (to see the
              so alive and so content. That’s when I noticed two Norwegian            famous painting, "The Scream"), the Hollmen Ski Jump and
              men in their 40s to my left having dinner. Both men were blond,         Frogner Park.
              blue-eyed and built like athletes. I suspected that they were gay              Frogner Park is a public park located in the west end of
              by their body language and by the way they eyed me. One of              Oslo. It is best known for its sculpture garden, showcasing the

18 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009
works of Gustav Vigeland. 212 massive nude figures adorn the                 By the time we all got back to the Thon Polar Hotel, it was
park culminating in the famous Monolith (Monolitten) statue with       3:00 am, and the morning light shone through the window as we
over 100 naked figures squirming their way to the top of a very        entered. Tor immediately grabbed my shoulders and pulled me
phallic-looking sculpture. At the rear of the park, there are places   into his face as he thrust his tongue into my mouth. I tasted the
where people lay on the grass to eat, converse, read or sleep. Nor-    lager beer on his breath and it made my body tingle. I felt like I
wegians seem by nature to love everything related to the outdoors.     took a whiff of poppers and it turned me an animal. I pulled him
      At the very end of the park, there are gay cruising grounds      right into an embrace. His right arm cradled me while his left hand
where men enjoy the company of other men under the gorgeous,           was holding onto Erik. He yanked Erik into us and soon Erik
warm summer sky. To best illustrate how progressive the Norwe-         started kissing me as well.
gians are, there are little birdhouses placed in the park. However,          Then, Tor grabbed Erik’s head and began to lick his lips and
they were not created for birds because if you reach into the bird-    kiss his entire face. My two Vikings took turns undressing me while
houses, you will find an assortment of condoms and lubricant           pushing me down onto the bed. That’s when it struck me: I was in
packets.                                                               a completely strange country in the furthest regions of the world
      Tor and I saw about a dozen handsome Norwegian men mak-          with strange men who, for all I know, could rob or kill me, or both. I
ing love in the sun. The combination of their blond, golden hairs      found my cock growing at the thought of being taken by these two
and gleaming sweat made them glow against the background of            brutish Vikings.
green lawn. There was so much sexual intensity that I could actu-            Erik pinned my arms while Tor licked my face and then my
ally smell the Viking testosterone filling the afternoon air. It was   neck and down my belly. Tor swallowed my cock and began finger-
intoxicating. I saw plenty of — as the Beatles would say, Norwegian    ing my ass while Erik licked my nuts. My body was boiling. I almost
wood.                                                                                      shot into Tor’s eager mouth. The mixing of their
      The next day was filled with adventures                                              manly scents drove me insane. The intensity
at the Viking Ship Museum, where the an-                                                   made me euphoric as both men began to take
cient ships on display were massive! Now I                                                 turns licking and nibbling my cock, balls and ass.
know why Vikings were once the most feared                                                 I was so ready for them.
warriors in the world.                                                                               Tor and Erik each slipped on condoms.
      By the end of the week, Tor and I made                                               The condoms looked skin-tight on their massive
it to our final destination, Tromsø — the                                                  cocks while I lubed up for these two warriors. Tor
northernmost university town in the world.                                                 instructed me to assume a doggy-style position,
For me, it is one of the most beautiful cities                                             and then he drove into me. In one rapid motion,
I had ever visited because it's a small island                                             Tor thrusted himself all the way into me. His
located between the North Sea and the Nor-                                                 hairy balls slapped my sweaty nuts hard. I felt a
wegian Sea where the water is clean, the air                                               sharp pain and was about to ask him to pull it
is crisp, and the scenery is compelling. The                                               out when he suddenly began thrusting hard and
wildlife was unusual, although you can still                                               deep and fast. I had no time to get used to his
see the usual reindeer, polar bears, and                                                   size or his rhythm. As he proceeded to jackham-
banana slugs (Norwegian slugs are black).                                                  mer my ass, the friction began to burn my hole.
      Tor and I took an aerial gondola to the                                              I felt a searing pain as I became the sheath for
top of a high mountain that overlooks the                                                  this warrior’s sword.
entire island city of Tromsø. We arrived at                                                          Within just a few minutes, Tor’s grunted
about 6 pm and had dinner at a restaurant                                                  like a beast in the forest which told me I was
that specializes in roasted reindeer and Norwegian salmon.             about to be bred. I thought to myself, “Let me have it.” Leave me
      We then waited patiently six hours for the famous Midnight       with a piece of Norway. He pulled my shoulders back as he plowed
Sun. There were fifteen of us out there: families, couples and sin-    into my ass and he let out a bellowing battle cry, “Yawhhhh!” I
gle travelers excited to see the Midnight Sun. When it reached         reached underneath and his nuts twitched and tightened. He was
midnight, the sky turned blue, gold, peach, and lavender. They         unloading himself into my body. For a brief moment, I felt the gen-
looked like watercolors blending into a psychedelic swirl. The         erations of Vikings ringing in my ears and inhabiting every pore,
clouds that surrounded the sun glowed while the mountains above        every membrane, every organ and every blood vessel in my body.
Tromsø looked like giant, angels hovering above the island. I had      Then, Tor’s head gently dropped onto my neck as I felt his beard
discovered Valhalla!                                                   scrape my smooth shoulders. It tickled.
      As Tor and I snapped photos of each other, a Norwegian man             Within a minute, he pulled straight out and pushed me on my
in his 20s approached us. He kindly asked if I could take his          back. That was Erik’s cue to lift my legs up over my head and enter
photo, so I did. He soon asked about my ethnicity and after ex-        me. He kissed me hard, nearly biting off my lip as he popped his
plaining to him that I did not just come from the Philippines but      cock into my already-slippery hole. I felt his hairy muscular thighs
that I came from the United States—although I was born in the          rubbing against my smooth legs. His cock was not as big as Tor’s,
Philippines. I discovered that he was a graduate student at Tromsø     but it was equally as long. He stared into my eyes as he pumped
University. That’s when I noticed an eagerness, a heat and hunger      me with a gentle ferocity. He became another person. Like Tor,
in his questions. He gave me a steely look as if he wanted to de-      Lars’ inner beast came out as he pounced on my ass showing no
vour me right the on top of the mountain. Tor picked up on this and    mercy. He then shot into the condom with rapid bursts as he
engaged the man, whose name was Erik. They spoke briefly in            stayed buried inside me with hot cum flowing into me.
Norwegian and I gathered that Tor had invited the young man to               As the Norwegian sun continued to shine through my hotel
our hotel. Both men smiled and then looked back at me.                 windows and wash us in the brightness of a new day, Tor and Lars
      The three of us decided to walk the entire three miles back      each kissed me on the left and right cheek. I kissed them both on
downtown. We did this because we wanted to stop by the famous,         the lips. Our bodies glistened with steamy sweat, saliva and sticky
Arctic Cathedral—a Christian church in the shape of a giant ice-       cum. I felt like a primitive man whose only purpose was to conquer
berg. By the time we got to the cathedral, it was 2:00 am and the      and be conquered. That was how my Norway trip ended.
sun was starting to gain strength again. The sun bathed the white            Even today, back in the United States, there are those long,
Cathedral with a beige, orange glow. The entire building looked        hot days when I look up at the sky and the sun and remember my
almost like a huge sail.                                               trip to Valhalla and how, for a brief moment, I became a Viking.

                                                                                                                    Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 19
  What is GAPA?

         The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA),                        OUR PURPOSE:                                                        WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN?
         is an organization dedicated to furthering the                The purpose of GAPA is to provide a progres-                        Some of the reasons for becoming a part
         interests of gay & bisexual Asian/Pacific Island-             sive forum where we can develop an agenda                           of GAPA are:
         ers by creating awareness, by developing a                    by actively pursing and addressing issues that
         positive collective identity and by establishing              directly affect gay & bisexual Asian/Pacific                        ♦    Join a support network if you are just
         a supportive community. GAPA was formed                       Islanders. In addition, we are building a                                "coming out"
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         through a democratic process, social, cultural                Islander men where we can be supportive of                               bisexual Asian/Pacific Islander men
         and political issues affecting the gay & bisexual             each other and achieve empowerment for
         Asian/Pacific Islander community.                             ourselves by developing leadership.                                 ♦    Enjoy the variety of social, cultural and
                                                                                                                                                political events
         In July 1987, several members from the Asian                  OUR GOALS:
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                                                                       GAPA members are working toward these
         Center met and discussed the need to integrate                                                                                         social issues
         and nurture a growing gay & bisexual Asian/                                                                                       ♦    Voice your issues as an avenue to
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                                                                            Islander men                                                   ♦    Meet and work with other gay &
         monthly meetings and a business retreat, the
                                                                                                                                                bisexual Asian/Pacific Islanders on
         Gay Asian Pacific Alliance was formally organ-                ♦    Establish communication and network                                 issues that affect you
         ized in January 1988.                                              with local, national and international
                                                                            groups to share our concerns and                               ♦    Explore your organizational skills and
         GAPA was created for men of all Asian/                                                                                                 enhancing your leadership potential
         Pacific Islander backgrounds. Whether we
                                                                                                                                           ♦    Develop a positive self-image
         are immigrants or American-born, gay or                       ♦    Enhance the participation of gay &
         bisexual Asian/Pacific Islander men, we all                        bisexual Asian/Pacific Islanders in the                        ♦    For the love of men
         share common areas. They include:                                  LGBT, Asian/Pacific Islander and other
                                                                                                                                           There are many other reasons members have
         ♦     Sexual Identity                                                                                                             in joining GAPA. Ultimately, the decision to
                                                                       ♦    Counter homophobia, racism and HIV/                            join is a personal one. GAPA is an excellent
         ♦     Racial and cultural bond
                                                                            AIDS through community education and                           place to start integrating all the gay & bisexual
         ♦     Familial background and values                               positive actions                                               and Asian/Pacific Islander sensibilities.

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