Love Your Asian Body: AIDS Activism in Los Angeles
(University of Washington Press, Jan 2022)
AIDS is not just a disease, but it is also a movement. At the epidemic's onset in the 1980s, there was a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the disease that was yet to be named. A group of Asian American gay men and lesbians in Los Angeles came together at that time and provided support for those who were sick and dying in their community. They became social workers, caregivers, nurses, researchers, and advocates for Asians living with HIV. They built a community infrastructure, without which many more people in the Asian American community would've been infected and died. They had to talk about sex in immigrant communities that were averse to its public discussion and reach those at-risk individuals that were too closeted to seek out health information. They were able to accomplish all this by building a network of allies, especially women as well as other LGBT communities of color. By pushing the envelope of public discourse about sex and sexuality, these early activists reframed a panethnic sexual identity at a time when most LGBT Asian Americans had trouble reconciling their racial and sexual selves. In the early years of the epidemic, when the disease bred so much stigma, fear, and even hatred in the public for those who were infected, these activists were able to forge a new vision of a thriving community. This is the paradox of AIDS as a disease and a movement. While it drove many to die alone in shame, AIDS also compelled many others to become political actors in our democracy, setting up the stage for broader social struggles for years to come.
This community memoir of the AIDS movement in the Asian American communities is based on interviews with over 35 activists and survivors. The oral history project is in collaboration with the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, supported in part by a research fellowship at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
"A brilliant, gorgeous, and nuanced rendering of queer Asian American activism in the 1980s and 1990s. This is the book I have been waiting for all my life."
-ANTHONY CHRISTIAN OCAMPO, author of The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race
"An important contribution to the existing literature on HIV/AIDS. This community memoir brings a new aspect to the story of sex positive interactions, adjustments, refusals, and transformations during the height of HIV/AIDS."
-ANDREW JOLIVETTE, author of Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco's Two-Spirit Community
"Clear, engaging and accessible. The informants' stories about HIV/AIDS organizing illustrate the multiplicities at play within the category 'Asian American.'"
-CYNTHIA WU, author of Sticky Rice: A Politics of Intraracial Desire
There are a handful of stories that I couldn’t fit within the confines of the physical book. These stories are no less important, and I captured them here on the website. Click below to read their stories.
Podcast: SEX POSITIVE
With generous support from California Humanities and Robert Berger, Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team released the first season of the podcast, Sex Positive, that features activists included in the forthcoming book. The podcast is produced by Hannah Harris Green and narrated by Eric C. Wat.
Love Your Asian Body wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of individual donors who gave at our crowdfunding campaign in Summer 2017, including:
Noel Alumit, Anna Alves, Dennis Arguelles, Chi-Wai Au, Euphronia Awakuni, Robert Berger, Charmaine Chan, Leslie Chan, Pei-Chi Chang,
Jih-Fei Cheng, Deanna Cherry, Hae Jung Cho, Susan Choi, Bernice Choo, Megyung Chung, Melany De La Cruz-Viesca & Victor Viesca,
Augusto Espiritu, J Craig Fong, Heng Lam Foong, Miki Fujimoto & Curtiss Takada Rooks, Gwen Gary, Anna Gonzalez, Fiona Gorman,
Richard Gutierrez, Julie Ha, Lisa Hasegawa, Alice Y. Hom, Dan Ichinose, Sally Jue, Naomi Kageyama, Alyssa Kang, Barbara Kim,
Katrina Kubicek, Thao Lam, Carrie Lane, Sunny Le, Grace Lee, James Lee, Shingly Lee, Russell Leong, Seth Levine, Chen Lin, Mandy Lok, Albert Lowe, Camillia Lui, Amy Luu, Linda N.E. Maram, David Maruyama, Alexis Moreno, Mireya Muñoz, Hiroko Murakami, Michael Murashige, Susan Nakaoka, Joyce Nako, Aiha Nguyen, Annie Nguyen, Teri Osato, Eve Oishi, Glenn Omatsu, Jeffrey Ow, Christie Rainey, Eric Reyes,
Mari Ryono, Michael Salazar, Lola Sablan Santos, Saul Sarabia, Ann Marie Scott, Christina Shigemura, Steven Shum,
Betty Song & Bennel Thompkins, Irene Suico Soriano, Michael Steiner, Hoa Su, Amy Sueyoshi, Thuy Ta, Lois Takahashi,
Brett Tam & Dan Bednarski, Joël Tan, Bonnie Tang, Sora Tanjasiri, Meg Thornton, Diep Tran, Jacqueline Tran, Sissy Trinh, Albert Wat,
Jesse Wine, Connie Wong, Marshall Wong, Clayton Yeung, Karen Yin, Jon Zeronick, and 10 anonymous donors