Chapter

“We Are One Family”

Chiou-Ling Yeh

in Making an American Festival

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942431 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520253506.003.0009
“We Are One Family”

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During the 1994 Chinese New Year Festival, members of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, clad in sweatshirts stating “We are one family” in Chinese, marched along the parade route carrying a twenty-five-foot lavender Godzilla. They were joined by other members of the gay community, including the Asian Pacific Sisters, a lesbian and bisexual group. Why were queer participants so thrilled to be marching on the Chinese New Year parade route? This chapter demonstrates the multiplicity and heterogeneity of the queer Chinese American community, which was divided by class, gender, national origin, immigration status, cross-dressing, and transgenderism, among other things. It looks at transnationalism and identity politics, and argues that ethnic leaders excluded queer Chinese Americans from public celebrations until 1994, in an attempt to counter the conception of Chinese Americans as engaging in “deviant heterosexuality.” Inspired by their queer counterparts in Asia, Chinese American gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders adopted a “coming home” strategy, rather than “coming out,” to perform queerness in the ethnic celebration and upset the gendered heteronormative representation of ethnic citizenship.

Keywords: Chinese New Year; Chinese Americans; gender; gays; queerness; cross-dressing; transgenderism; heterosexuality; transnationalism; identity politics

Chapter.  10878 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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