Iwas extremely lucky I called CLAGS when I did.
I had just finished reading an e-mail from the GAPIMNY (Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New
York) listserv, which informed me about an intriguing and free seminar on the Histories of LGBTST
People of Color Activism that was being co-sponsored by the awesomeness of CLAGS and the fabulousness
of ALP (the Audre Lorde Project). After I took two minutes to quickly collect my bearings from the
euphoric shock of reading news of such an incredibly-revolutionary/incredibly-NEEDED course (which
was made incredibly available and accessible to someone as poor as me), I picked up the telephone at
my work desk and dialed. The voice that picked up on the other end told me that I filled the last
registration slot left in the seminar! That blessed voice – to me – was the equivalent to a baseball
umpire’s saying “SAFE!”
During the February 10th session on Global Networks and Transnationalism, guest speaker Sangeeta
Budhijara blew me away with her extensive knowledge and scope of field research in queer people of
color activism. Session co-facilitator Jasbir Puar and Sangeeta espoused such phenomenal information
regarding global conferences – which they actually attended in India and other locations – that included
the queer, people of color, queer people of color, and women’s agendas.
During the February 17th session on Historical Contexts for Contemporary Activism, guest speaker Joo-
Hyun Kang provided a jaw-droppingly comprehensive and enlightening history of queer people of color
activism in America from the 1970s to the present day, while guest speaker Don Kao provided his
insightful life history as a veteran organizer.
During the March 2nd session on Legal and Political Struggles, Kris
Hyashi, Director of the Audre Lorde Project, gave us a chance to look
at ALP’s current work as well as insight on what the current real
challenges are and what is really at stake in organizing today. Imani
Henry, a transgender activist, was inspiring and sobering as a voice for
and living example of multi-issue organizing.
During the March 16th session on Cultural Activism & Work Against
Homophobia in Our Communities, Trishala Deb and Cathy Chang were
truly educational and encouraging in their recounting of their
struggle to work against homophobia, sexism and other heinous
oppressive forces in their own homes, homelands, workplaces and
The sessions had the gifts of co-facilitators Rosamond S. King and
Jasbir Puar’s diplomacy, education, professionalism and ability to elicit
stimulating, substantial and profound discussion on all the crucially
important topics covered in this course.
As a young gay immigrant Cantonese-American man who lives in
New York City, I was and will always be elated and immensely grateful
that I had the opportunity to learn more about Queer History, People
of Color History, Queer People of Color History, Our History/Herstory,
our efficacy, our fire, our fight and love and struggle and triumphs.
Humbled. Schooled. Touched. I will actively disengage my male and
East Asian privilege as effectively, thoroughly and passionately as I can
everyday. I will continue to combat the invisibility, oppression and
slander that plagues us in our native and diasporic communities more
intelligently now; and with much more heart and verve. And on top
of that, I met and interacted with some really cool people.
I was extremely lucky I called CLAGS when I did.
J. Zhong Tsao is a 24 year old Guyanese-born, Cantonese-rooted, mostly New
York-raised gay poet-sociologist-thinker-dancer-lover-laugher-professional who
organizes trainings for educators and managers in the afterschool field