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‘Omusubi and Other Queer Gohan: Japanese Americans, Sexuality, and Activism’

Amy Sueyoshi (atop the car, left) and Tina Takemoto in the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26. (Photo by Rita Takahashi)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Japanese American National Library (JANL) is sponsoring a public program about the history and specific experiences of Japanese and Asian Americans in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.

The two-hour program, “Omusubi and Other Queer Gohan: Japanese Americans, Sexuality, and Activism,” will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in San Francisco Japantown. The venue will be the Union Bank Hospitality Room, accessible through the front door entrance to the East Mall of Japan Center, at 1675 Post St. The room is the one that front-faces persons entering the East Mall.

Featured speaker Dr. Amy Sueyoshi will address queer history and experiences, her LGBTQ and social justice activism, and her connections within diverse communities, including the Japanese and Asian American communities in the Bay Area. In her recently published article, she says:

“By resettling to a queer frame of mind, Asian America could move out of the shadows of inadequacy that often defines our existence and create new standards of ‘excellence.’ … How great would it be to be valued rather than denigrated for your outrageous difference. This is the transformative power of queer to fuel not just self-acceptance and liberation but also community cohesion and political power.” (p. 114 from her Spring/Fall 2016 article “Why Queer Asian American Studies? Implications for Japanese America” in Pan-Japan, Vol. 12, Nos. 1 & 2)

On June 25, Sueyoshi served as the first Asian American community grand marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade. She will share her experiences, including how she was selected for this honor, what she experienced as grand marshal, and why it is important to think and reflect about the implications this has for Japanese and Asian Americans and persons of color.

This program, moderated by Rita Takahashi, will also include views of the photographs she took at the 2017 San Francisco Pride Parade. The festive energy and powerful pride of participants come through in the photographs.

Sueyoshi is associate dean in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, and professor of sexuality studies. As researcher, scholar, professor, and activist, she has revealed deep commitments to social justice agendas, including human and civil rights. After her prepared presentations, she will respond to questions, hear comments, and engage with the audience.

This program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information, call (415) 567-5006.

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