Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Yellow Mask

So last night I was in a gay bar, one of those with a back room. Often there's a code of silence in the outdoor patio between the main bar and the covered, boom-boom room. But that's not always the case. Gays are gays, we chat, laugh and drink. It's not a library or church by any means.

So in comes this cute Asian guy I've been talking to. The bartenders love him. He's always smiling and chatting. That's why I like him too. Upbeat, easy on the eyes. Let's call him Brent. So I think, what a great opportunity to tell Brent about our gay, Asian conference, IFCON 2016, that will be happening here in Chicago over Labor Day. Two hundred folks from the Asians & Friends chapters from across the country will be coming here to be with us.  I'm one of the volunteers on the organizing committee. We'd love to have this guy Brent show up and be part of all that gay Asian (and the men who love us) bonding.

I hand him some info, say what the conference is about and he says back, "But I'm only half Filipino."

I'm thinking, "Who cares?" but say something like, "You'll pass."

So later, I'm in that back patio with my drink, talking across the space to another patron--who happens to be Asian--and Brent sits down with us. "Angel, you're too loud," Brent says.

I think, "What the F?"

I was chatting with the guy across the patio but believe me, I wasn't being loud.

"What?" I ask, "I was just talking."

Far from being the upbeat person Brent normally is, he blurts out in this surprising frustration, "You're just too loud!"

I'm thinking, okay, okay. I'm not sure what's going on but I smile and leave to the front bar. Hell, I think I even apologized.

So this morning, I'm connecting the dots. "I'm only half Filipino." That's what he said when I basically told him, "Hey, you're Asian. Come to this Asian conference."

I think he was actually saying to me, "Angel, I'm not that Asian."

Hell, I'm not that Asian too. I'm pretty white or "American" under the skin. But the fact is, I'm still Asian. More Filipino and a quarter Chinese. But no one cares. I'm Asian. That's what non-Asian gays see first and foremost. And I know that here, in Chicago, if I were me and white and standing in the boom-boom room in a down jacket, sweats and birkenstocks, they'd be all over me.

And my loud mouth.

I'm thinking Brent wasn't frustrated with me being "loud," he was frustrated with me. Or him. Or something that he thinks he's not ... but he is.

I know, heavy stuff right? But before I go on, ladies and gentlemen, can I just say that even here in gay middle America, you can be cute and Asian?

I remember deferring to Brent's anger last night because I knew he wasn't angry at me. And I know he's got a heart. 

And I know I can be annoying, potentially obnoxious. But I'm also effervescent, funny and witty. It's my curse. 

So here's my conclusion--and my truth. We all have demons. Unhappy gremlins festering within us. We all have doors to open. Things to discover about ourselves. I'll just meet him again, hopefully on the other side of one of those doors.

Yours with respect,

Angel Bright

Saturday, June 18, 2016


It's never easy to stumble. To realize something is your fault. Sometimes it takes a while to truly figure out you're your worst enemy. After the Orlando shootings I realized that I could do more. That I fritter away time like it was water. Like it wasn't of value. In some parts of the world, women walk for miles just to bring home water--every day. I've sloughed off on the couch, watching reruns of shows long ago wrapped. Actors who are five, six, seven years older. Shadows. Ghosts.

Today I am a soldier. What I do is build community. That's my job. And the more bonds I build, the more resources I gather, the more energy I direct, the more they diminish.

The truth is, they are powerful and hungry. They are emboldened by a truth that is as real to them as my own. But when they come for me, my truth will be stronger.

Yours in defiance,

Angel Bright

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tying to a Mission

Part of the goal of this blog and for many of my activities within the gay Asian community is to develop a support system and safe, social environments. To that end, I've been approached by a group trying to interview gay Asian Pacific Islanders (API) in Chicago to better understand their health-care needs. Here's a flyer.

Yours in Good Health,

Angel Bright

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Raising Funds

Fundraisers can be a pain, but if planned far enough in advance and with enough people behind the cause, it can be a joy--and fun. So in the spirit of putting the fun back in fundraiser, here's "No Business Like Monkey Business," a Loony Lunar Musical Review to benefit Asians & Friends Chicago and its efforts to mount IFCON 2016 in the Windy City over Labor Day. It'll be Sunday, May 22, 2016, at 1 p.m. at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted in Chicago. $20 gets you a free drink. See you there!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Engineering Brotherhood

When I typed in "gay Asian brotherhood" into Google Images, I got this photo. It was a GAM-TV showing that I organized. Needless to say, the discussion of developing a "brotherhood" is underdeveloped. It's something that occurs naturally among those who speak their native languages, but not so much among those who don't or don't identify with their Asian roots.

Why? I think that's a valid question. Something to develop.

Yours in discussion,

Angel Bright

Monday, February 8, 2016

Making Precise Cuts

We all come to a point in our lives when we see that every moment is a blessing. Whether it's after the death of a friend or a "big" birthday or some other milestone event, the feeling of being lucky to be able to jog on a crisp, cool morning; bite into a nice steak; or laugh with friends becomes somehow absolutely evident and spectacular.

I'm not going to say that any one thing hit me on the head to make me feel that very way, but more so a sense that a lot of wasteful behavior I've participated in the past is now unnecessary. Procrastination, distraction, even being fearful are all time sucks and are no longer a part of how I want to spend each of the precious minutes I've got in a day.

From here on out, I'll be devoting myself to identifying and solving my most complex challenges--everything from getting a new mobile phone to getting rid of the clutter around my house to snagging sponsors for our upcoming Asians & Friends international conference. Each of these challenges requires thought and action, specific steps taken with precision. Today I pledge all the time I can to being a surgeon with all my responsibilities, including my job as a dutiful husband, friend, son, brother, relative and colleague.

Yours in determination,

Angel Bright

Saturday, January 30, 2016

GAM-TV Prepares to Go Public

Thinking how best to promote both my GAM-TV projects (webisodes--comedies, profiles, documentaries--produced about gay, Asian men) as well as the international Asians & Friends conference coming to Chicago this Labor Day called IFCON 2016, I'm planning to publicly release all of the GAM-TV websodes we've produced over five years. We'll do a drum roll leading up to it through February and hopefully attract sponsors for the effort. Watch for word on all of this in the coming weeks.