Kyle Casey Chu, Photoshoot December 11, 2012
San Francisco, California
QTPOC series in-progress
entitled “The Treacherous Felicity in Relentless Dissent”
Kyle and I met while slinging coffee at your friendly local neighborhood café, connecting over bits of postcolonial and race theory in between the sweat of steaming milk for lattes. I was later blown away when, at a Mission Arts and Performance Project event I co-curated in my backyard, he read his poem about the pain and rage of experiencing racism in the workplace, and the strategic choices one is sometimes forced to make- to remain silent in order to keep one’s job: an experience many of us know all too well.
This being the first photoshoot in this series, I was still questioning myself on how to approach this project, aesthetically, politically, and personally. Still, we jumped right in, letting the initial awkwardness melt away, and I soon found myself stunned by the combination of Kyle’s simultaneous vulnerability and power. Conversations ensued in between shots, and this was where the profundity of the experience grew from. We dove together for a couple hours into memories and questions and struggles we had each faced around beauty, body, desire, sex, community, identity… as they are all contoured by race and racism, and our specific experience of white liberal culture in San Francisco. For Kyle, as a self-identified Queer, Asian, cis-gendered man, this means coming up against the norm of the white, Gay, middle/upper-class, body-built, standard. It means having assumptions made about him, and expectations placed on him by other Gay and Queer men, about what his desires are, how he likes to have sex, and how much power he is expected to assert through notions of masculinity-via-sexism, as contoured by racism. It means often being made to feel as though one were disappointing others by not fulfilling the discursively violent stereotypes imposed upon him. It means that often, he feels unseen…
What those hours between us evidenced was that, as queer people of color, despite having the intellectual capacity to critique normative notions of beauty, of desiring and being desired, of body… we still live with very real and present pain in our bodies and selves, and deep-seated and suffocating episodes of self-doubt as we find ourselves perpetually contrasted against white heterosexual and homosexual or queer norms. We know these are effects of the deprecating nature of colonization, and normalization, and yet, how quickly it is we can feel splayed out naked at the social and political guillotines, as we are sentenced by those around us, for the crime of fitting into the stereotypes placed on us, just as much as for the crime of not fitting into them. But there is no victimization here either. To survive the impact of racism both within and outside of our queer communities, is testimony to our strength and resilience. That we are constantly recreating ourselves, that we wake up everyday and risk showing up in the world, demanding that our worth be seen and heard- is a vital act of resistance.
By the end of the evening with Kyle, there was a sense that what we had shared had produced an incredibly meaningful space of healing for us both: in articulating the violences we face together, we recognize that we aren’t alone in them, and we harness our collective power to make refusals that are indispensable to our survival and our becoming. It was from there that I’ve grown a sense of what I want this project to be, and I am so grateful to Kyle for that. It is as much, if not more so, about the process than the final product. It is about healing. It is about taking risks in so many different ways, rendering ourselves vulnerable in order to rise up like phoenix birds from the ashes of former pains and sorrows. It is about a practice of justice, of community, of family, and of growing each other fiercely through the storms we weather.
OMFG GOD THAT’S MY FRIEND WE WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER WE WERE IN A BLUES BAND TOGETHER HOLY FUCKING SHIT HE’S ON MY DASH HI BB I’M GONNA POST THIS ON FB
oh, hey baby.
ALERT: SEXY MEXICANFOODPORN!!!!!!!!
Sopa de Tortilla o también conocida como la sopa Azteca
Tortilla soup. oh yes… Put some crema on that and some Chipotle peppers, you will go to heaven.