Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What Am I Doing at 7am?

The morning after election day, I had a phone appointment with Maryland.  The fine Lambda Literary organization hooked me up with The Tatnall School to talk about my work as a writer.  I put on my robe, had some coffe then had stimulating conversation about a few short stories that I'd written. (One of them you could read here.)

It was incredible conversation.  However, what intrigued me most was the ways a writer can interact with his readership.  There I was asleep, then an hour later, I'm on the phone talking to students across the coutnry.  Sweet.  Something tells me this is the new wave of book promotion. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Asian Americans for Prop 30

I went to a press conference urging Asian Americans to vote YES on Prop 30, which would stop $6 Billion in cuts to our schools this year and prevent tuition hikes.  California's wealthiest (those who make $250,000 or couples who make over $500,000 a year) will have their taxes temporarily raised for seven years. 

Civil Rights Activist and Zen Nun Angela Oh, Senator Carol Liu and me
I was there to present a world where $6 Billion cuts would affect our schools:  less English lessons, which would be deadly for Asians with a large limited English population; less history, which may mean leaving out stories of people of color in our curriculums; or less health education, which means putting our youth at risk for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.

Assemblymembers Warren Furutani, Mike Eng, State Senators Ted Lieu and Carol Liu, Mayors Ed Lee, Jean Quan, Evan Low are among those those who favor Prop. 30.

The LA Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle also favor Prop 30.

More on Prop 30 here.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Sumi and Me

Every once and awhile, I get to do something really cool.  On October 27, I wen to the launch of the Philippine Heritage Collection at the Echo Park Library.  That was the library I used to go to as a child.  It was truly a remarkable feeling being apart of this event, particularly since my novels have scenes set in the area.

What a greater joy it was to sit next to Sumi Haru, a woman who recently released a memoir about her life.  I'd greatly admired this woman for a long time.  Back in the 1990's I went to an event that the Screen Actors Guild was sponsoring for actors of color in Hollywood.  Sumi was one of their panelists.  She had been on SAG's board since the 1970's and did amazing work to push for equal opportunities for minority actors in entertainment.

Now, in her 70's, Ms. Haru continues to grow and change.  Author is her latest title.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Bunch of Gay Guys Talking About Writing

I hope you can join me this Sunday, September 30 at the West Hollywood Bookfair.  I'm on at 1:30.  I'll be moderating a panel with Eduardo Santiago, George Snyder and Kergan Edwards-Scout.  More here.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hot or Cold?

Come check out the lates Dead Poetry Slam from Smartgals on September 9 at 5pm. 

Skylight Books
1818 N. Vermont
LA  CA  90027

More here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Different Direction--Doh!

There I was writing along, thinking I knew what was going on with my latest novel "Miraculous Boy."  Then an idea pops into my head, a surprise way of dealing with the narrator.  It came out of nowhere.  Most writers would be happy.  My initial response was--NO!!! 

You see if I went this direction, I would have to justify it somehow.  This would mean going back and rewriting sections to make it work.  Dang it--I didn't want to do that. 

So, I'm wading through it, trying it, tossing it around, seeing if it works.  More later. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Reading Joan Didion: Being Awake in the 1980's

I'd been reading lots of nonfiction, particulary about writers writing about their own lives or providing their own spin on things (pop culture, politics, etc.)  In the past six months, I've read Jeanette Winterson, David Sedaris, Augustin Burroughs, William Styron and Anne Lamotte.  It's great reading about how writers have lead their lives, leading them to the books they write today.

I'm finishing up Joan Didion's After Henry, a book of essays that was published in the early 1990's.  Most of what she writes about is Los Angeles in the 1980's.  I consider the 1980's an important time in my life.  I went through junior high, high school and college in that decade, all of that time in Los Angeles.  Our view of our city at that time is drastically different.

Joan Didion was (is) a mature, astute artist, writing about environment, politics, history.  I was, well, an adolescent growing into young adulthood--my head was in a totally different space.   Reading After Henry, gave me an alternate reality of someone else living in the same city at the same time.  It was truly illuminating, and I loved it.

What is also did was reinforce my own Voice as a writer, because I'm contributing something else.  In these pages, Joan Didion doesn't write about AIDS, that horrible disease that came to light in the 1980's that was an iconic marker in gay history.  Nor does she write about the fall of the Marcos regime, one that influenced the lives of Filipinos all over the world.  Both of these events had influenced me, shaping my world view.

I read that Toni Morrison wanted to write stories that wouldn't have been written if it weren't for her.  Me, too!  It was great reading about Joan Didion's Los Angeles.  Now, I'm going to write about my Los Angeles.  What will you write that no one else is saying?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Philippines is in the Heart

I hope you can attend this:  The Philippines is in the Heart, Exploring the Filipino Diaspora in Los Angeles.  June 23 at 2pm.  The Silverlake Library, 2411 Glendale Blvd (across the street from Bank of America).  I'll be sharing the mic with Gioavanni Ortega and Alison de la Cruz.  We'll be exploring the work of Filpino literati, from Carlos Bulosan to Barbara Jane Reyes.  This is a PEN Center USA event. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What it Means to be Gay...

I wrote a piece for the LA Weekly on what it means to be gay.  I affectionately call it:  Gayer with the Mayor.  More here.

Monday, June 04, 2012

...and Proud of it!

Author Octavia Butler

I hope you all get a chance to check out this reading I'm curating on June 7 at 7:30pm at Skylight Books.  It's an awesome line-up of writers.  The purpose of the event is to honor gay and lesbians writers who inspired us.  More here.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Feeling At East With A Younger Crowd

I spent part of this week in Sacramento.  I went to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Policy Summit, which encourages APIs to get engaged in the political process through workshops and legislative visits.  I went to get updates on health reform and brush up on mental health issues affecting the community. 

I also went to meet with legislative staff about bills we cared about.  We met with the staff of the Assembly Speaker John Perez, Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher and Senator Roderick Wright.  Among the bills we talked about included content on proper translation servcies, benefits for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender veterans, and better foreclosure practices.

By the end of the two day, I was exhausted.  However, what invigorated me was the number of young people there.  Seeing all of these young people there made me so very happy.  Included in those young 'uns were several gay and Asian upstarts.

Here I'm picgtured with Filipino American gay men  Paul Ocampo and Carlo de la Cruz of the Asian Law Caucus and Consultant Andrew Medina. 

Part of me felt at ease knowing that there was a future with younger people carrying the torch. Maybe I can relax now.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I'm Reading...

I'd been reading about other writers' lives. I'm curious how other writers live and write. I enjoyed William Styron's (Sophie's Choice) book on battling depression. Depression seems to be a common thing among writers, which I completely understand. All that time alone, spent in your head--some mental health is being risked.

I enjoyed reading about Jeanette Winterson (see previous post). I really appreciated reading her struggle with fame, that a working class lesbian should be marginalized and misunderstood among the literati in her country. I'm reading David Sedaris who is always a hoot! I needed to read something a little lighter after reading Sytron and Winterson. I enjoyed reading that Sedaris used to clean houses to earn money. I always think of him as being erudite and, well, rather fru-fru. I didn't know he used to vacuum to earn money.

Next is Anne Lamott and her essays on faith. I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meeting Jeanette

I met Jeannette Winterson, a true icon of mine. She came to Skylight and I had the honor of introducing her at her very first reading in Los Angeles. I read her novel The Passion some years ago, and it stuck with me. It wasn't until later that I discovered that she was a lesbian or that her work had been snubbed by some of the literati in her country (She's never won a major prize in her country). She has no problem attacking a literary male hero like Henry Miller. She called out the sexism in Mr. Miller's life, like using his girlfriends to prostitute themselves so he can sustain his life as a writer.

There were two things that she said that really meant something to me:

1. Trust the chaos. Writing can be an emotionally wrenching experience. Sometimes you just don't know which way is up in a story. That's ok.

2. This is your time. She said we can change alot about our selves. We can change where we live, what we look like (including our gender), but there is one thing we can't change: the time we were born. This is the hand we were dealt. We can not change the time we're living in.

This resonated with me, because I do think I was born in a rich, textured time (1968) and currently live in interesting (not necessarily the best) times. My time on earth is what I get to leave behind for others to read.

I'd been writing about the 1980's alot...great! It reinforced that I'm writing about what I need to be writing about.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Style Fashion Week: The More the Merrier

There was definately a feeling of good times a the LA Fashion Week party. Maybe because the economy is getting better, but it was a good feeling all around.

These two were my favorite couple at the party--slick, cool, stylish.

Loud colors, leopard prints--Antying goes! I love that about fashion.

The woman in the middle exudes a Bianca Jagger vibe.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Style Fashion Week: The Women

At Fashion Week LA, you'd expect to see well dressed women. And there were. Here were some of my favorite ladies.

This woman was simply magical. From the way she sat to the way she looked at you.

She simply was out of this world.

I thought his woman was simply stuuuuuuning. The whole package.

Baby, got back!

Color, color, color! Love it.

Style Fashion Week: The Men

I attended the opening night party for Fashion Week LA. It was in an "undisclosed location" in Bel-Aire. Of course, in an event like this you'd expect to see beautiful people in beautiful clothes. This party did not disappoint. Here are some pics of some of my favorite guys.

Oh, that smile

Love that shock of blue!

I loved this big guy--he was faaaabulous.

I liked the swagger of these two men. Comfortable, but not arrogant

Something tells me he's been in front of the camera before.

What an interesting face. He almost was shocked when I asked to take his picture.

I really liked these two. They just were kinda cool. No pretense.

Just men with nothing to prove.

Thre was a bow-tie theme, which I always think takes a confidant man to wear.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Meeting and Becoming "Meathead"

(The Mayor's Prop 8 press conference)

I'd been reflecting a lot recently. In February, I honored 10 years that I've been a published author. Of course, I'd been creative much longer than that. I got my first acting agent at sixteen. I went to colledge to study Drama at 18. I started doing performance art/solo work in my twenties. My first novel was published when I was 34.

However, long before that, I remember feeling that there were some things that just weren't fair in the world. All of that shows up in my writing. When my family first moved to America, we lived in a ghetto in Boston. I remembered that dishevled neighborhood, and maybe feeling there was something not right about that situation.

My father was happy that we left for Los Angeles. In Boston, he said cops would come around and harrass the immigrants. This was back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In my adulthood, I'd had the pleasure of performing near that neighborhood (which is now a trendy part of Boston). I felt nothing but safe and welcomed.

In the 1970's we moved to Los Angeles, and I remember the class divide when "Bussing" came into the fray. Kids from economically depressed neighborhoods (like mine) were bussed to wealthier nieghborhoods (like Bel-Air). I think the goal was to improve race relations and equal out educational opportunities. I'm still not sure.

(With writer Dustin Lance Black)

When I was going to drama school in the 1980's, I couldn't help but notice that my white friends were going out for real roles, roles with names and backgrounds. I was going out for roles like Drug Dealer #1 or Asian #3. I knew I was as talented as my counterparts, but the opportunities were slim. In the 1980's, I also saw how gay people were dying of AIDS and there was a good portion of society who believed that they deserved it.

Recently, I'd been thinking about my work and my life. I'm grateful for the opportunities that came my way and the opportunities that I created. If I have work or get published, I think it's with people who feel along the lines that I do.

I continue to write and I continue to be socially aware. Every once and awhile, it gets glamorous, like when I was asked to represent API Equality-LA , (I serve on the Steering Committee) at a press conference on Prop 8. It was really cool.

However, most of this creative and socially conscious life is usually pretty ordinary. I write as much as I can. I show up to help at work.

(With actor and writer Rob Reiner)

Sometimes, I like to think that I get a sign that I'm on the right path. I do think it was pretty cool meeting "meathead" at the press conference. Rob Reiner played the fiery liberal antagonist to bigot Archie Bunker in "All in the Family." At the press conference, he came off that very same way! Mr. Reiner spoke passionately for gay marriage.

I've become that fiery liberal. I'm Meathead.