Love Your Asian Body as Activist Portal: A Book Discussion with Eric Wat, mads lê, and James Huỳnh

In this vibrant conversation, writer and activist Eric Wat will be in discussion with mads lê and James Huỳnh about his recently published book, Love Your Asian Body: AIDS Activism in Los Angeles (University of Washington, 2021). While the discussion will begin with Eric’s book - a community memoir that centers the political activist labor of over thirty Asian American AIDS activists during the 1980s and 1990s – the conversation will open to larger questions regarding queer of color genealogies that inspire multingenerational activisms; joy in community organizing; and the different ways of stewarding and sharing generational knowledges of activism, grief, and pleasure across queer of color communities.

This conversation will be facilitated by Associate Prof. Crystal Baik (GSST). For questions, please email Co-sponsored by GSST, CIS Performing Difference, the LGBT Resource Center, and Asian Pacififc Student Programs. This event is supported by the Highlander Empowerment Referendum.

About Love Your Asian Body:

The AIDS crisis reshaped life in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 90s and radicalized a new generation of queer Asian Americans with a broad vision of health equity and sexual freedom. Even amid the fear and grief, Asian American AIDS activists created an infrastructure of care that centered the most stigmatized and provided diverse immigrant communities with the health resources and information they needed. Without a formal blueprint, these young organizers often had to be creative and agitational, and together they reclaimed the pleasure in sex and fostered inclusivity, regardless of HIV status.

A community memoir, Love Your Asian Body connects the deeply personal with the uncompromisingly political in telling the stories of more than thirty Asian American AIDS activists. In those early years of the epidemic, these activists became caregivers, social workers, nurses, researchers, and advocates for those living with HIV. And for many, the AIDS epidemic sparked the beginning of their continued work to build multiracial coalitions and confront broader systemic inequities. Detailing the intertwined realities of race and sexuality in AIDS activism, Love Your Asian Body offers a vital portrait of a movement founded on joy.

Abbreviated Bios of Speakers: 

James Huỳnh (he/him/his) is a PhD student in Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. He is also the Chair of the Board of Directors of Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC), a grassroots organization that builds community and mobilizes intergenerationally primarily with LGBTQ+ Vietnamese Americans and their loved ones through research, education, and advocacy.

mads lê is a memory worker, activist, and PhD student at UCLA’s information studies program. For the past six years, mads has worked alongside and within Vietnamese and broader Southeast Asian organizing networks in both Los Angeles, CA and Philadelphia, PA. 

Eric C. Wat (he/him/his) is the author of Love You Asian Body: AIDS Activism in Los Angeles (University of Washington Press, 2022) and The Making of a Gay Asian Community: An Oral History of Pre-AIDS Los Angeles, 2002.

Dial-In Information

Tuesday, May 17 at 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Virtual Event