the many shades of the asian experience

It’s almost Pride month asienne! What better way to celebrate than with The Gaysian Project? Earlier this year, asienne spoke with the gaysian project’s founder about: its origins, it’s mission and vision to defy the multi-layered stereotypes of being gay and asian, and the complexity and intersectionality of “Asian” identities and its definitions.

Name: Maya Reddy
Field: Film, Sports, Law, Activism
Known for: THE GAYSIAN PROJECT, ClexaCon
Star Sign: Capricorn

The Gaysian Project links: official website | instagram | facebook | twitter

An alternate version
of this interview can be viewed
in a digital magazine style
with the link here

In your own words, how would you define Asian-American? Indian-American?1.png
I usually consider Asian-American as being a person of Asian descent that was born or grew up in the States; where our formative years were spent in the US, versus the country of our ethnic origin.

Do you identify more as one or the other? Why?
I usually identify mostly as “Desi” which just refers to a South Asian person that is living abroad. This is mostly due to the fact that growing up “Asian-American” always felt exclusive to East Asian folks; something that was only emphasized by non-Asians (in a very perplexing manner) questioning the validity of claiming Indian as being Asian–and Asian spaces being dominated by folks of East Asian descent. It is something that has always bothered me and it is also something I am hoping to change through conversations about what “Asian” means – disrupting the misconception that “Asian” is an East Asian monolith when in fact, the continent is full of so many incredible and diverse cultures and people.

Define gaysian as an identity.
Gaysian” is a fun portmanteau that refers to gay Asians. It is most commonly used to describe gay Asian men.

An alternate version
of this interview can be viewed
in a digital magazine style
with the link here.


Define gaysian as your project.
I have always seen the label as a fun moniker, but one that is inclusive of all identities throughout the queer/trans and Asian/Pacific Islander spectrums. While I do not always identify as “gaysian” myself (despite being queer and Asian), I love the label in its ability to instantly start conversations and to unambiguously indicate the community that we are focused on uplifting.

The Gaysian Project is focused on empowering all queer and trans identities, as well as all Asian and Pacific Island ethnicities.

We want to show that being queer and being Asian doesn’t look like one thing – to celebrate our varied and shared experience and help continue to define Asian-American and Queer Asian-American culture.

What do you hope to accomplish and what message do you hope to convey with the gaysian project in terms of inclusivity or lack thereof, specifically in the LGBT community?

The crux of The Gaysian Project is visibility. When we are seen, we are known.

An alternate version
of this interview can be viewed
in a digital magazine style
with the link here.

4.pngTo see ourselves in other queer Asians is to establish community, to show that we belong, we exist, and we are valid. Asian visibility, let alone Queer Asian visibility, is far and few between – it is my hope that through uplifting different voices in the Queer Asian community, shedding light on the work Queer Asians are already doing, and continuing to have conversations about the Queer Asian experience – we can foster and empower community, and help each other feel a little less alone in the world.

A huge aspect of TGP is disrupting assumptions about the Asian and Queer Asian communities – confronting the harmful Model Minority assumption, fetishization, and Orientalism. I hope through the conversations that we have, and our focus in including all Asian ethnicities, from the Middle East to the Pacific Islands, that we can create an inclusive and celebratory space for Asians and allow folks from outside of the community to see the different shades of the Asian experience.

***This interview was originally conducted on January 2019.
Photos were used with permission from its respective owners (the interviewee and/or the photographer). Other images are stock photos.

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