Storytelling with a Mission
I hail from a storytelling tradition. When I was little and afraid of the dark, my grandmother would lull me to sleep with Chinese folk tales.
Now I tell stories that challenge harmful mainstream narratives about race, gender, immigration, sex, and health. I tell inconvenient stories that others try to erase or ignore. I embrace not only difference, but also the kind of deviance that swims against the tides of conformity. No longer afraid of the dark, now I embrace it.
My writing always reflects my experience as a queer Asian immigrant in the U.S., an activist who still believes history is made by everyday people, and a lover of joyful food and music. I write about sex a lot, too, unapologetically. In fact, two of my earliest published stories were in erotica anthologies. (Social justice should not be devoid of pleasure. In fact, pleasure should be a basis for activism!)
I alternate between fiction and non-fiction. My first book, The Making of a Gay Asian Community, was an oral history. Published in 2002, it was one of the earliest academic books about this community, and has been described as a “foundational text in queer Asian American historiography.” Almost twenty years later, I’ve written a follow-up to this book and it’s about AIDS activism in the Asian American community.
But my first love is fiction. I published a handful of short stories here and there, mostly in the 90s. I only returned to my first love in 2016, when I had the idea for SWIM after my grandmother passed away. I quit the best job in the world to write this novel. I wrote SWIM for queer folks whose main concern in life isn’t coming out, for people who are dealing with addiction (or know loved ones who are), and for adult children who are struggling to take care of their aging parents (and in so doing are confronted by their imperfect relationships). I hope it resonates with you!
Not for nothing, I live and write in Los Angeles.