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I Got This Way from Eating Rice

I Got This Way from Eating Rice

Gay Asian Documentary and the Reeducation of Desire

Chapter:
(p.241) 21 I Got This Way from Eating Rice
Source:
Resolutions 3
Author(s):
Nguyen Tan Hoang
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816670826.003.0021

This chapter explores the representation of race and sexuality in experimental documentaries produced by gay Asian men in the United States, Canada, and Australia in the mid- to late 1990s. These include Slanted Vision by Ming-Yuen S. Ma (USA, 1995), 7 Steps to Sticky Heaven (USA, 1995) by Nguyen Tan Hoang, Tony Ayres’s China Dolls (Australia, 1997), and Wayne Yung’s The Queen’s Cantonese (Canada,1998). These films seek to contest the feminization and desexualization of Asian men in gay visual culture by presenting self-consciously performative, sexually explicit material, which acts as an urgent counterpornography. A central component of the reeducation of desire for these films’ intended gay Asian male audience is the goal of replacing the so-called wrong, misguided desire for white men with a supposedly more empowering desire for other Asian men, such a shift ostensibly signals a concomitant shift in masculine agency from passive sexual object (the Asian boy toy) to active sexual subject (the politicized agent). The chapter argues that this politically correct lesson fails to account for desires and identifications that cannot be so easily disciplined, especially those desires that embrace bottomhood and femininity. In other words, such a reeducation ends up arresting the play of desire and marginalizing a gay Asian male subject’s desire for submission and domination—in effect, a move that curtails a gay Asian subject’s choice and sexual possibilities.

Keywords:   Asian males, gay men, race, sexuality, queer experimental documentaries, desire, gay visual culture

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