BY JOYCE YIU
For drag queen Teriyaki Temple, A&F does not stand for the fashion store Abercrombie & Fitch; it is the abbreviation for “Asian and Fabulous”: the theme for the third annual Mr. and Miss Gay Asian/Pacific Islander International Pageant.
This year’s pageant is scheduled for Jan 28 at 7 p.m. in the Broadway Performance Hall in Seattle. Temple said the reason for holding the pageant is to promote and celebrate gay Asian culture in Seattle. Asian gays and lesbians are often underrepresented in the homosexual community. As the co-founder of the Asian Pacific Islander International (API), Temple wants to use the annual beauty contest to create a voice for the Asian gay community.
As a matter of fact, the Mr. and Miss Gay Latino Pageant inspired Temple to hold the annual beauty contest. He witnessed great success of the pageant and thought that Asians could also host a similar one.
“Besides showing that we are beautiful, it is also a chance to raise money to help people who are in need. It is not just a contest, but a meaningful event,” Temple said.
Temple thinks that the American corporate media often depict white males and females as beautiful and perfect beings. The models on the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues are usually blonde and white women with nice body figures or handsome and masculine white men; Asian and minority models often are out of sight.
“Stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch only promote blonde and white prettiness, but Asians are beautiful too,” said Temple.
Mark Sagun, last year’s Mr. Gay Asian Pacific Islander, thinks that the recent release of the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” is a breakthrough for Asians. In the past, actresses Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh were only known as martial arts female stars. However, now they are no longer skilled fighters; they are just two beautiful geishas with fantastic dancing and entertaining skills. Their performances in the movie had broken the deep-rooted Asian stereotype in which Asian artists can only appear in martial arts movies.
“The actresses are depicted as beautiful this time. It proves that they can also perform in romantic and love films, not just martial arts ones,” said Sagun. “And the most important thing is: it has proven that Asians can be pretty, too.”
This year, contestants take the opportunity to present themselves on stage in outfits of their unique national costumes, eveningwear and swimsuits to showcase the beauty and gorgeousness of all Asians.
“There are different ways to express beauty. We choose to dress up because we are beautiful,” said Sagun.
In addition, taiko drummers, dragon dancers and other performers will join in to ensure the audience a great show and a good time that evening.
“Our show is always entertaining and we will definitely make sure everyone who joins us has a good time,” said Temple.
The API co-founder said his officials and him spent nearly nine months organizing the event in collaboration with the Mpowerment Program of Life Long Aids Alliance. The event would not have happened without all sorts of in-kind donations and fund-raisings. Temple said all generated revenue will be used to sponsor social activities and college scholarships for the API community.
“We don’t care who we are helping. The recipients don’t have to be gay or lesbian, it could be anyone who is in need, such as cancer and AIDS patients,” explained Garrett Brown, one of the API officials.
Temple said there would be great cash prizes and crowns for the winners that night.
“Earning the title of Mr. or Miss Gay Asian Pacific Islander is a step forward to show what you can do. The winners should be proud because they have the opportunities to serve and represent their communities,” said Temple.