Voices of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Summer 2009
VISUALIZING HEROES WITHIN
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
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? http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/692666
Michael Armado Cirilo Domine Kai Chang
Summer 2009 | Lavender Godzilla | 5
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 www.momobooks.asia
the belief that wrongs could be righted and that there could be justice. www.momobooks.blogspot.com
The reality was that armed guards couldn’t protect her from fear and www.betterplace.org/projects/1069
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.
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
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.
ment and imagina-
tion, we can elevate
our efforts into
heroic acts. Find
out about his
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. (sfrrc.org), 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 http://www.horizonsfoundation.org/
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
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
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 http://johnsilva.blogspot.com Any old friends from the early
As expected, Oscar’s tomb was radically different. No crosses GAPA days may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
- email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gapa.org. 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: email@example.com
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: www.gapa.org. For
each other's experiences. It meets for dinner (usually potluck) additional details, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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"
from the need for an organization to address, community for gay & bisexual Asian/Pacific ♦ Develop friendships with other gay &
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
In July 1987, several members from the Asian OUR GOALS:
Gay Men's Support Group at Berkeley's Pacific ♦ Stay in tune with current political and
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
Pacific Islander identity and to foster positive ♦ Provide resources, role models and make things happen
role models within our community. After several visibility for gay & bisexual Asian/Pacific
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.
GAPA Membership Application/Renewal Registration Form GAPA CONTACTS
RAPHAEL BUENCAMINO: email@example.com
Asian Pacific Member ___ New ___ Renewal FRANCIS TSANG: firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporter ___ New ___ Renewal Lavender Godzilla is GAPA’s voice and is printed for TREASURER
the benefit of its members and supporters. The
appearance of the name, photograph or likeness of
TARRANCE TRUONG: email@example.com
Name __________________________________________________________ any person or organization is not intended in any SECRETARY
way to indicate the sexual orientation of the person TREVOR NGUYEN: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address ________________________________________________________ MEMBERS-AT-LARGE
Lavender Godzilla invites submissions of unsolicited
DANNY LIN: email@example.com
Phone(s) _______________________________________________________ manuscripts and materials. Text submissions should
be typed and emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Written
MARK TANG: email@example.com
article length should be approximately 1000-1500 ADVISORY
E-Mail* _________________________________________________________ words. Publication of submitted material is at the ROBERT BERNARDO: firstname.lastname@example.org
discretion of the Editorial Committee. The Editorial
* The GAPA email list will only be used by the GAPA Board for official JORDAN DE PERALTA: email@example.com
Committee also reserves the right to edit works for
and timely announcements of GAPA activities, and your email address length and sizing concerns. All other non-text HISTORIAN
submissions should be arranged separately with the BRIAN YEE: firstname.lastname@example.org
will not appear as an addressee on any of these messages. Editors. Submission deadline is 30 days before
publication. Note: Anonymous works without contact MEMBERSHIP
info (email, phone) will not be considered for KEVIN JIM: email@example.com
DUES 1 Year Membership 2 Year Membership publication.
student / senior (60 & over) $10 $20 Permission to reprint as a courtesy unless otherwise ALEX BATY: firstname.lastname@example.org
stated. Credit to sources is greatly appreciated.
Single $20 $40 Opinions expressed are those of the contributors CULTURAL
and are not presented as the views of Lavender AMRON-PAUL YUWONO: email@example.com
couple / single household $30 $60
Godzilla, its editors, or GAPA.
DONATION: Support the work of GAPA by making a donation. You have the When writing letters to the Editor or any letters CHUIN PHANG: firstname.lastname@example.org
regarding a specific article/column, please cite the
option to remain anonymous. source(s). Your name, address and phone number GAPA 35+
(s) must accompany your letter. You may, however, DION WONG: email@example.com
$ 50 Recognition in newsletter (December issue) ask the editor to withhold your name and address
from being printed.
$100 Above, plus recognition on website (during December) JASON CHAN : firstname.lastname@example.org
$250 Above, plus recognition at our larger annual event(s) CYBER-GAPA SCHOLARSHIP
Check out our website: www.gapa.org FELIX TSAI: email@example.com
other _____________________ Our internet e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions about
or are interested in getting involved
TOMMY HUIE: email@example.com
Please make checks payable to “GAPA” and mail to: with GAPA’s Cyber-Home, contact: GAPA MEN’S CHORUS
GAPA, P.O. Box 421884, San Francisco, CA 94142-1884 firstname.lastname@example.org
RANDY KIKUKAWA: email@example.com
20 | Lavender Godzilla | Summer 2009