Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We hope that today, you are all surrounded by loved ones and friends on this warm fall holiday. Looking back on on this past year, Nakayoshi has a lot to be thankful for and on this day, we recognize and are extremely grateful to those who have made this long road possible.

Over the past 10 months or so, Nakayoshi has been driven by it's mission to create a space for young professionals within the Japanese American community, inclusive to all those who aim to enrich both their life experiences and the greater API community through philanthropy or social activities. And with an amazing core group of individuals who have come together on a monthly basis, Nakayoshi has been able to put on some amazing volunteer and social opportunities.

And with the continual support from the JACL, the NCWNP District, and other community organizations around the Bay Area, we hope that Nakayoshi will continue to strive and be able to provide you with the latest and greatest opportunities to reconnect with community and give back.

We are truly thankful for all the support that we have received from our members over this past year and we hope that the experiences you've had have been memorable. It is only through your active involvement that Nakayoshi has had such a successful run of events and we hope that you will continue to grow with us over the coming years.

So on this beautiful day, take time to reflect on what you are thankful for. Be thankful for community. Be thankful for change. Be thankful.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

(r)evolutions - 6th Annual UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union Culture Show

Our friends (and some current/future Nakayoshi members!) at the UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union are putting on (r)evolutions, their 6th annual Japanese American culture show at the UC Berkeley campus on the evening of December 7th at 7pm. This year's show will feature UC Berkeley students in two short plays, issues monologues, as well as performances by Cal Taiko, and hip hop dance and Soran Bushi ( modernized Japanese cultural dance) sequences performed by Berkeley NSU members. Contact Berkeley NSU President Katie Furukawa at ktkalifornia[at]gmail[dot]com or Co-Chairs Brian Jocson and Ryan Sadakane at nsucultureshow[at]gmail[dot]com for tickets ($7-10 sliding scale).

Having seen many culture shows put on by collegiate Nikkei organizations in previous years and having helped put a few together myself back in the day, I look forward every year to watching other young members of the community display their talents as well as convey their unique messages and perspectives on issues of community, culture and identity. I've been impressed the past couple years with the substance the creative minds in Berkeley NSU have been injecting into their culture shows. I expect no less from this year's performance. I really encourage everyone to come out and support all the hard work and dedication of these students as they put on arguably their biggest event of the year!

If you can't make it to this year's show, Berkeley NSU will also be offering a shortened performance of their show for the community this Sunday at the JCCCNC at 5pm, right after Nakayoshi's monthly meeting down the street!

Read Berkeley NSU's press release below for more event info:

( r ) e v o l u t i o n s


On Sunday, December 7th, 2008, UC Berkeley’s Nikkei Student Union (NSU) will be hosting its Sixth Annual Japanese American Culture Show: (r)evolutions!

NSU was founded six years ago as a student organization dedicated to increasing awareness ofJapanese American issues, as well as uniting students of Japanese ancestry and those interested in Japanese American culture. This year’s theme, “(r)evolutions” reflects the evolution of NSU and the greater Japanese American community from its humble beginnings and into the future. In addition, it reflects on the potential of Japanese American youth to revolutionize and revitalize the community.

Since its inception, NSU has experienced tremendous growth and is currently composed of students from a variety of backgrounds, each embracing their individual identities, perspectives and histories as members of the Japanese American community. Through its focus on community service, leadership and Japanese American issues, NSU has empowered many Japanese American youth to become involved in their communities and revitalize them. This year’s Culture Show serves to continue empowering Japanese American students through performance and strengthen the presence of our club within the UC Berkeley student community and the Japanese American community.

This year’s show features two student‐written short plays inspired by pertinent issues facing our community today. “Home,” written and directed by Lisa Yasutake, addresses the delicate balance Japanese Americans must face when addressing their Japanese and American identities. “Time Machi,” written by Ryan Sadakane and directed by Erin Ochi and David Oda, reflects upon the future of Japantown and the possible consequences the community may face should it be lost forever.

In realizing the theme, “Manifesto” will feature a set of monologues written and performed by members of NSU discussing their perspectives and manifestos reflecting the evolution of the Japanese American community and revolutionary potential as Japanese American youth. Furthermore, “(r)evolutions will feature UC Berkeley’s own taiko group Cal Taiko, a hip‐hop performance by NSU’s JCrew, and Soran Bushi, a modernized Japanese cultural dance.

Through the support of the community and fellow students, “(r)evolutions” is aiming a for a full house upon its debut on Sunday, December 7th, 2008. Doors will open at 6:30PM and general admission will have a sliding scale of $7 to $10.

For further information, questions and comments, please contact NSU’s Culture Show chairs, Brian Jocson and Ryan Sadakane, at

We look forward to putting on a great show this year, and we hope to see you there!

Brian Jocson and Ryan Sadakane
NSU Culture Show Chairs 2008‐2009

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Singles Mingle at Nakayoshi Gokon

Now we know all of you joined Nakayoshi because you want to do some good in the community right? Wait, you wanted to meet other (single) people too?

Don't worry, we get it. That's why Nakayoshi had our first Gokon last Thursday evening at Pisco Latin Lounge. Put together by Nakayoshi committee member Emily Leach, she and some of our fun (and very eligible) singles got to mix it up and get to know one another over some delicious drinks, appetizers and laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar, a Gokon is basically a kind of group blind date that's practiced in Japan these days. It'll typically be set up with a group of guy friends and a corresponding group of girls seated across from each other to hold conversations or play casual games to help ease nervousness and get people to meet new people in a relaxed environment.

We'd love to have more of you single people come out the next time we put a Gokon together. Come on now, don't be shy! You never know who you might meet, or learn about your new friends!

For those of you looking for another chance to go out with Nakayoshi for a fun night out, don't forget about our monthly mixer coming up this Friday night starting at Kilowatt in SF's Mission District! For any of you that want to get more involved and help us plan more social events or other activities, come on out to our meeting this Sunday in San Francisco Japantown. E-mail if you need more info. See you guys on Friday!


December 13, 2008
11:30am - 2:30pm
JCCCNC (1840 Sutter Street, SF)

Need the perfect personalized gift to give your family this holiday season? Join the REEL NIKKEI STORIES: A Nikkei Family Legacy Project workshop on December 13, and make your commitment to create a family legacy gift!

REEL NIKKEI STORIES is designed to engage young people to take an active role and empower them with the confidence, training and tools to interview, video document and share the untold stories of living relatives before their family histories are lost forever. Although many documentaries, books and oral histories have been produced to preserve and teach the Japanese American experience during World War II and in internment camps, your family’s personal story may still remain untold and undocumented. By interviewing and video documenting your elders’ stories, you will be able to start a dialogue in your family and learn first-hand accounts of the Japanese American experience.

This holiday season give the gift that matters most to your family and take this opportunity to capture your family history from your living relatives. For more information on how to create your family legacy project please contact Ali at 415-567-5505 or email

Monday, November 17, 2008

JACL Signs onto Prop 8 Amicus

This press release was sent this morning from NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada.

For more information on how you can get involved in these issues, e-mail Nakayoshi at or contact the JACL NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada via phone at (415) 345-1075 or e-mail

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has joined the Anti-Defamation League, the Asian Law Caucus, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, and Public Counsel in submitting an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) in support of the Petition for Writ of Mandate in the case of Strauss, et al. v. Horton, et al.

The Writ requests that the California Supreme Court issue an order invalidating Proposition 8 in its entirety. Proposition 8 was passed by the voters on November 4th and added Section 7.5 to Article I of the California Constitution providing: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The passage of Proposition 8 overruled portions of the In re Marriage Cases where the California Supreme Court held that statutes precluding same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.

“The JACL supports the invalidation of Proposition 8 because it effectively eliminates the protections of the state’s Equal Protection Clause for same sex couples with regard to their fundamental right to marry,” said National President Larry Oda. “The JACL was among the first civil rights organizations in the nation to support marriage equality. We believe Proposition 8 sets a dangerous precedent by taking away from citizens the rights that have already been granted.”

In the past, JACL has been a strong supporter of marriage equality. In 1967, the JACL was an amici to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the seminal case that struck down anti-miscegenation in 17 states. Since 1994, throughout the In re Marriage Cases of 2007-2008, and to the present, JACL has supported equal protection of the right to marry regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.

“The JACL has always worked for maintaining the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Any union of a couple that is based on love, mutual respect, sacrifice, and lifetime commitment should be afforded the same legal rights and process regardless of what that union is called by institutions within our society,” said National Director Floyd Mori.

As amici, the JACL supports the Petitioners contention that the implications of an attempt to constitutionalize an overt denial of equal protection are profound and are not limited to gays, or to lesbians, or to marriage. The same process could effectively eliminate any and all protected rights under the state Constitution and no Californian should be denied state equal protection with regard to the fundamental right to marry.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Asian American Heritage Night with the Warriors and Nakayoshi!

Remember to get your tickets to Asian American Heritage Night with the Golden State Warriors through Nakayoshi! Not only do you get a great discount, but you also help us determine what is needed for a Japanese American Heritage Night. Helping us is good, Japanese American Heritage is good, watching the Warriors play b-ball is good... you get the idea.

Tickets are selling fast so the sooner you buy them the better.

Asian American Heritage Night
Friday, December 12th, 7:30 pm
Oracle Arena
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets

To purchase your tickets:
1. Click here and enter the code nakayoshi.
Create an account or login with your existing Ticketmaster account
3. Purchase tickets.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions! See you at the game!


The National Japanese American Citizens League issued the following press release today stating their continuing support for marriage equality. The fight is not over and both JACL and Nakayoshi will not stop until specific groups are no longer systematically marginalized in our society.

For more information on how you can get involved in these issues, e-mail Nakayoshi at or contact the JACL NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada via phone at (415) 345-1075 or e-mail


San Francisco, CA - Following Tuesday’s election, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) expressed concern over ballot initiatives in several states that denied equal rights to gays and lesbians.

California’s Proposition 8, Arizona’s Proposition 102 and Florida’s Amendment 2, all passed by the voters, denied to gays and lesbians the right to marriage equality. In Arkansas, voters also prohibited gay couples from adopting children by passing Initiative 1.

“The United States Constitution provides for equal treatment under the law to all of our citizens,” stated National JACL President Larry Oda. “No one group should be singled out for discrimination. We have not forgotten that as Asian Americans, we, too, were once the victims of marriage discrimination in this country. Racism was the motivating factor back then, and it is incumbent upon us to be vigilant and not allow homophobia to guide our laws today.”

The JACL, in 1994, was one of the first civil rights groups in the nation to affirm its support for marriage equality. The organization stated in a resolution that marriage equality “was a constitutional right that should not be denied because of a person’s sexual orientation.”

Lawsuits have been filed by the ACLU and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office to block the implementation of Proposition 8 in California.

“We are deeply troubled by these initiatives, yet our resolve remains steadfast,” commented Ron Katsuyama, JACL Vice President for Public Affairs. “The JACL will explore what we can do to support these legal challenges. Who one chooses to love and marry should be an individual and personal choice, not one limited by illegal and discriminatory laws.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nakayoshi Bi-weekly Update No. 3 - November 7, 2008

Hey kids, it's time for another update on Nakayoshi's upcoming events and activities in November! There are still a couple spots open for the Sushi-making class this Sunday as well as for the Nakayoshi Gokon dinner/mixer next Thursday for you single people, so e-mail us ASAP to RSVP. We also have another fun night out coming up on the 21st, this time to cruise around the Mission district in San Francisco. Don't forget to buy your tickets to the Warriors game on 12/12! Read below for details on all this and more. Hope we see you around this month!

In this update (new events in bold):
11/9/08 - Tabemasho! Nakayoshi Cooking Class Series: Sushi
11/13/08 - Nakayoshi Gokon (Singles Mixer)
11/21/08 - Monthly Social Mixer - SF Mission District
11/23/08 - Monthly Meeting
12/6/08 - SF JACL Spaghetti Crab Feed Benefit
12/12/08 Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night

Sunday, November 9, 2008: Tabemasho! Nakayoshi Cooking Class Series - Food: Sushi

There are still a few open spots at our cooking class! Come on out this Sunday to learn the process of basic sushi-making, from preparing sushi rice to rolling techniques for that perfect and delicious hand roll! The class will be taught by Nakayoshi members Graig and Sean Inaba, with 12 years of professional experience of sushi-making instruction between the two of them. All materials and supplies will be provided by Nakayoshi. Space for this event is limited to the first 20 paid participants, so contact us ASAP to ensure a spot in the class! Price: $40 general public, $35 for JACL members (make checks payable to "NCWNP JACL")

Location: Japanese Cultural and Community Center of California (JCCCNC), Issei Memorial Hall, 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
Time: 1:30pm-4:30pm

Thursday, November 13, 2008: Nakayoshi Gokon (Singles Mixer)

There's still space for one more lucky lady and two single guys at the Nakayoshi Gokon! Come get to know other singles over food and drinks in a fun and relaxed setting. RSVP to (be sure to include any dietary limitations). Single folks only!

What: A Konpa or Gokon is a Japanese gathering over drinks and food and could be described as a group blind date.
When: Thursday, November 13th, 6:30 pm
Where: San Francisco's New
Pisco Latin Lounge (warning: website has embedded music) 1817 Market St. @ Octavia (map)
Why: Meet some new people and make some new friends (and potentially more!).
Cost: $20-$30 (price TBA) which will include food and drinks.

Friday, November 21, 2008: Nakayoshi Monthly Social Mixer - SF Mission District

If you missed out on last month's North Beach crawl, don't worry, we're doing it again! Bring your friends and join the rest of the Nakayoshi crew for another monthly nighttime prowl, this time in the Mission district in San Francisco! We'll be meeting at 9pm at Kilowatt on 16th Street, and move on to other spots and late-night burrito joints from there. The event is open to anyone 21+. E-mail if you're coming, have questions, or if requesting a particular place in the area for us to drop by.

Location: Start at Kilowatt 3160 16th Street (between Guerrero and Albion St.), San Francisco, CA map
16th Street BART Station nearby
Time: 9:00 pm

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008: Nakayoshi Monthly Meeting

Have ideas for fun activities Nakayoshi should be doing? Have a cause or issue you think we should get involved with? Come out and tell us at our next meeting! Please note the change in our usual meeting date/time this month, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Meetings are usually held on the last Sunday of every month from 1:00pm-4:00pm at the National JACL Headquarters building in San Francisco Japantown.

Location: National JACL Headquarters, 1765 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115 map
Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Saturday, December 6th, 2008: SF JACL Spaghetti Crab Feed Benefit for Campaign for Justice: Redress Now for Japanese Latin American Internees

Join Nakayoshi as we volunteer at the San Francisco JACL chapter's annual Spaghetti Crab Feed on Saturday, December 6th, 2008 from 5:00 to 8:00pm at the Christ United Presbyterian Church in Japantown. The SF JACL will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the Campaign for Justice, an organization committed to gaining redress to the remaining Japanese internees who were taken from Latin America and placed in US internment camps during WWII, but did not receive the full redress that other Japanese Americans internment camp internees received. Volunteers will assist with setup and cleanup of the event, as well as help prepare and serve food and drinks. Past beneficiaries from the SF JACL's annual Spaghetti Crabfeed include the American Friends Service Committee and the Nikkei Community Internship.

Don't feel like volunteering? You can still support by buying tickets to the event and having a delicious crab/spaghetti dinner for $20/person! E-mail us at if you're interested in volunteering or purchasing tickets. To learn more about the Campaign for Justice and the plight of Japanese Latin American internees, go to:

When: Saturday, December 6, 2008
Where: Christ United Presbyterian Church, 1700 Sutter Street (At intersection of Sutter and Laguna in SF Japantown), San Francisco, CA
Time: 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm (volunteer shifts start earlier and are available throughout the day)
Cost: $20/ticket, $10 for children under 12

Friday, December 12, 2008: Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night

For all you ballers and fans out there, come watch an NBA game at the (ROAR)acle Arena as Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets step up to the Warriors for Asian American Heritage Night with the Golden State Warriors! Tickets to the Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night will also include a commemorative t-shirt and access to an exclusive pre-game mixer! Nakayoshi will receive $5 for every ticket sold, so come out to support your team and Nakayoshi!

Purchase tickets at the special $40 rate for Nakayoshi online at Ticketmaster at and enter special offer code nakayoshi, then create an account or login with your existing Ticketmaster account to purchase tickets. Have questions? Contact Nakayoshi member Emily Leach at emily [dot] leach [at] gmail [dot] com for additional information.

Price: $40/ticket (purchase online here, special offer code: nakayoshi).
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Time: 7:30 pm

All events are free and open to anyone unless otherwise noted. Feel free to forward this message along to your friends or anyone interested. Not on the Nakayoshi e-mail list? Click here to subscribe. Have questions? Want to sign up or RSVP for an event? E-mail Nakayoshi at: For additional information and updates, be sure to check the Nakayoshi blog at or find us on Facebook!

SFGate: Gays and Asians, not so strange bedfellows

In the midst of the excitement I've observed (and felt!) around San Francisco from the election of Barack Obama, there is still a lot of remorse and frustration at the passing of Proposition 8. Although APIA's were seen to be one of the few ethnic minority groups that support same-sex marriage rights overall in polls, it didn't turn out to be enough to prevent Prop 8 from passing. You can be sure that we'll be keeping an eye out for actions to follow up and contest the passing of the proposition from our JACL district and other civil rights and community organizations. This fight isn't over yet, not even close.

As I've been reading through pre- and post-election analysis, I found a piece particularly relevant to our community and the struggle against Proposition 8. Here's Jeff Yang's interesting article in his AsianPop column in the SF Chronicle discussing similarites and relations between the Asian American and LGBT communities in our local politics. The article includes a huge nod to the JACL for being the first national civil rights organization to publicly support same-sex marriage rights.

The original article can be found on here:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 (SF Gate)
Gays and Asians, not so strange bedfellows
By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate

With the 30th anniversary of Harvey Milk's death approaching and the impending release of a star-studded biopic commemorating the late San Francisco supervisor's life, Jeff Yang explores Milk's conviction that the Bay Area's queer and Asian-American communities were destined to find political common ground.

Michael Wong was flabbergasted. His friend and confidant, newly elected Supervisor Harvey Milk, had just declared his intention to endorse Wong's political nemesis, an old-school leader of the Chinatown machine. "Harvey, how could you do this?"

"You gotta look at the big picture, Michael," explained Milk. "If San Francisco's Asian and gay communities can just find a way to unite and work together, we'll hold all the cards. Give us 10 years, and we'll control politics in this city."

Wong left the conversation so incensed that he didn't speak to his friend for a month -- a silent treatment that ended just before November 27, 1978, when Milk and Mayor George Moscone were murdered at the hands of a political rival.

From the vantage point of three decades of hindsight, Wong acknowledges Milk's position as coolly pragmatic - and, in retrospect, absolutely correct. "Harvey was brilliant, and as usual, way ahead of his time. Because back then, in the Seventies, Asian Americans weren't yet voting in droves. But by the late Eighties, if you had a Chinese last name and were running for lower office in the city, chances are you were a lock to get elected."

Two Tribes
What Harvey Milk had predicted was the convergence of two potent demographic trends. Asian Americans are now well over a third of San Francisco's population, and between 20 and 25 percent of its electorate. Self-identified lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals, meanwhile, make up about 13 percent of the city's population and between 15 and 20 percent of its registered voters. Both groups, and the overlap between them, continue to grow -- making up what might well be an invincible electoral bloc, if the two could only make common cause.

But over the past three decades, building that political bridge between the two communities has proven to be more of a challenge than Milk anticipated. San Francisco's LGBT electorate is the most reliably Democratic segment of a quintessentially Blue municipality; meanwhile, Bay Area Asian-American voters have followed national trends, splitting their party affiliation in enigmatic fashion - with about 45 percent registered as Democrats, and up to 40 percent claiming independent or nonpartisan status. On the issues, bread-and-butter Asian-American concerns like immigration and education tend to be low on the list of priorities for gay voters, while conventional wisdom has generally held that Asians skew conservative on social matters, particularly gay rights.

Which makes it all the more striking that, in the first-ever comprehensive poll of Asian American voters, the Rutgers/UC-Riverside sponsored National Asian American Survey, an overwhelming percentage of Asian Americans, 57 percent to 32 percent, rejected bans on same-sex marriage. In fact, Asians are the only ethnic voting group who've shown a clear and consistent majority against Proposition 8, the referendum that would prevent gays and lesbians from marrying in the state of California; results of the final Field Poll released on the eve of Tuesday's election indicated that 51% of Asians intended to vote "No" on 8, versus 48% of Latinos and just 43% of African Americans.

Wed to Rights
That Asian Americans have become a critical swing vote on gay marriage rights may upend conventional wisdom, but it doesn't surprise organizers. "Our community has looked at this issue in the context of 125 years of California history," says Tawal Panyacosit, director of the San Francisco marriage rights group API Equality. "We think about the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from bringing their wives to join them in the U.S. We think of antimiscegenation laws that specifically banned intermarriage with Asians. For us, this is a civil rights issue, not a moral one."

Many gay Asian activists question the conventional notion that Asian Americans are less tolerant of homosexuality than their general market peers. "This isn't to say that homophobia isn't a problem in our communities, but many Asians see it more as an issue of privacy than anything else," says Gay Asian Pacific Alliance co-chair Raphael Buencamino. "This is a group that's culturally uncomfortable with any open display of sexuality" - gay or straight. "They may embrace their gay family members, they may be fine with things on a personal basis, but they just don't want to discuss these matters in public. And unfortunately, that gets depicted in the media as intolerance."

Eric Wat, Los Angeles-based author of "The Making of a Gay Asian Community," agrees that such generalized portrayals are dangerous. " First-generation Asian immigrants may say, 'Oh, there was no such thing as homosexuality when I grew up,' but when you press them on the issue, they'll admit they had an uncle who wasn't married and that everyone understood to be gay. When my friend Alice Hom was doing research on parents of Asian-American LGBT men and women, she told me she ran into mothers of Asian lesbians who'd privately tell her things like, 'If there'd been an opportunity to openly express this way back home, life might have been different for me, too.'"

Same Difference
But the potential shared space between the gay and Asian-American communities extends beyond a shared interest in defending matrimony. For one, there's the structural similarity between the two groups. "APIs and LGBTs are both communities that are finding ways to come together politically despite the huge amount of diversity among their members," says API Equality's Panyacosit. "Asian Americans encompass 20 distinct ethnic groups and dozens of languages," while the cultural differences between gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals present a similar challenge to queer identity. ("We have a social divide that means we have to work harder," admits Buencamino. "I mean, gays and lesbians aren't an integrated community; it's not like we're hanging out at the same clubs.")

And many of the individuals working hard to forge political agendas within the Asian and gay communities belong to both groups: Openly gay Asian Americans have emerged as key leaders and organizers in issues ranging from immigration reform to the fight against AIDS - and bringing their straight and non-Asian allies together in the process.

"If you go all the way back to 1994, you'll see that the Japanese American Citizens League was the first national civil rights organization to publicly endorse same-sex marriage rights," says Wat. "And the reason is that many JACL leaders and active members in places like Southern California were out gays and lesbians. They had strong relationships with straight allies in the organization, and they were able to make the case to them that this was an issue the JACL needed to support."

It's something that would have delighted Harvey Milk, who relished his public role as a gay icon but privately asserted the critical need to build political ties with straight colleagues and constituencies. Reached shortly after watching Gus Van Sant's celebrity-studded cinematic biography "Milk," an audibly shaken Michael Wong reiterates his belief that had his friend survived, he would have risen to unpredictable heights.

"People think of him now as Harvey the legend, but I was fortunate to know him as Harvey the practical politician," says Wong. "He would have built that coalition, and who knows where he could have gone. Before Harvey was killed, he'd made a list four people he thought could carry on his work if he died, and one of them was Harry Britt. And do you know what? In 1984, my father, who was a big supporter of Ronald Reagan, told me, 'I'm voting for the gay boy.' That's what my father called Harry Britt -- 'The gay boy.' But he told me he'd become convinced that the 'gay boy' was good for the Chinese. I was floored. I absolutely believe Harvey would have been mayor of San Francisco. And because he was the kind of politician that believed in sharing power, he would have opened doors for other groups too -- brought the outsiders in: blacks, Asians, you name it. We would have a very different political landscape today. Very different."

Jeff Yang forecasts global consumer trends for the market-research company Iconoculture( He is the author of "Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to the Cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China," co-author of "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action" and "Eastern Standard Time," and editor of the forthcoming "Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology" ( He lives in New York City. Go to to join INSTANT YANG, Jeff Yang's biweekly mailing list offering updates on this column and alerts about other breaking Asian / Asian American pop-culture news, or connect with him on Facebook:, LinkedIn:, or Twitter:

Copyright 2008 SF Gate

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get out there and Vote!

The day has finally arrived. Today is the day where your voice, your vote, will be counted to decide who will lead our country over the next 4 years, and so much more. Having witnessed one of the most exciting and captivating political races this country has ever seen, for the past two years since the Presidential campaigns have kicked off, this country has definitely awakened to the challenge to vote and be heard.

With record breaking numbers already seen in early voting, numbers are estimated to be even higher at today's polls. Even more exciting, we've been seeing a lot of press on how segments of the APIA community will have a noticable effect on election results around the nation. With this election, we may see the Asian American vote become recognized as a substantial voting bloc that the major parties and politicians will absolutely need to engage effectively in future elections. In addition, with his family ties, there have been some musings around the blogosphere and press on how Obama may indirectly become the first Asian American President. This has got to be the most exciting and important election to be an Asian American voter to date.

Even with all the hubbub surrounding the race for the White House, there are even more reasons why your voice needs to be heard today. Among the many propositions on the ballot today, the basic civil right of our LGBT friends and family members to marry is being threatened in our state. Today may very well be a day that sees the culmination of progress in civil rights bridging multiple communities.

There are so many reasons to get out there to vote today. Don't miss out on your chance to be a participant in what will undoubtedly be a watershed moment for this nation.