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Chase Tam – 9/1/10

Chase is an incredible dancer as well as drag/gender performer based in Toronto, Canada.  This is how Elisha Lim described Chase to me: “[Chase] does these drag performances where he transforms Asian masculinity into the hottest vision possible!”  Nice huh?  He’s constantly redefining what gender identity is and without further ado, here are his answers to the questionnaire.  Enjoy! 
Who? name, age, what you identify as (or not) 

My name is Chase and I am 23 years old. I identify as a trans man (ftm) but I also like to identify as genderqueer, stud, butch, etc. because I like to keep the fluidity of my gendered identity (mostly because I feel I bounce between these categories on a day-to-day basis).

What? what do you do for a living or things you would like to do?

I am currently finishing my degree in Women’s Studies at a Toronto university and that seems to take up most of my time. I do work part-time in childcare, but my dream job would be to pursue my passion for drag/gender performance. Being a gender performer is a job of mine. I truly wish I could dedicate all of my time towards furthering this art, but because it does not pay very much (sometimes nothing at all) I am often forced to keep it on the side.

When did you come out? Any stories? 

When I think about it, North American notions of “coming out” really focus on “coming out” to your parents. If this is the case, then I really haven’t “come out” yet! But if I had to pick a time, I would say I really came out about 3 years ago when I made my debut as a drag king. I don’t put too much focus on “coming out” to my parents because it isn’t something that stresses me out. I am out in every other way and I have my own chosen family to give me support.

How did coming out impact your career or relationships with others?

It actually took me a while to come out at work because I knew that it was a very homophobic environment. I eventually came out 3 years later. A new challenge for me is dealing with the transphobia there! They can’t even conceptualize the idea of being trans – therefore they still call me by my female name and female pronoun.

My relationships with friends and lovers has been an uphill battle! The friends in my life are the ones I love and cherish and have been with me through every step of the way. Lovers have been a little tricky because of my recent gender transition. I started transitioning about two years ago, and one of my partners (who I was dating for majority of the two years) unfortunately had so much internalized transphobia it ended up breaking us apart.

Advice you can give to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers.

My advice to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers is to just continue being proud of who they are. Be proud of being Asian. Be proud of being queer/trans. And know that there is an entire community standing with you in solidarity.

And now, I bet you all want to see him perform! Well he’s on youtube! Check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEPbcZv1kGg&feature=related

Also, an awesome illustration (One Hundred Butches by Elisha Lim) of Chase and more insightful words of his here:

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About Miyuki Baker

Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap. As a queer, nomadic, multi-racial/lingual female mixed-media artist activist and healer, she uses common or discarded objects, personal anecdotes, public spaces and performance to make accessible art that brings non-mainstream identities and ideas into maximum visibility. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she traveled for 14 months as a Watson Fellow to fifteen countries documenting the intersections of art and activism in queer/trans communities in blog posts and self-published magazines while making performance art. The eight magazines Miyuki created on this trip (queerscribe.com) and their strong media following exemplify her illustration/graphic design, storytelling and people skills. Her work has been featured in several magazines such as Hyphen, Broken Pencil and Knik, blogs and radio shows, well-known for their interactive and eye-catching mixed media approach to activism that utilizes both online media and on-site performance and workshops. This fall she will begin the PhD program at UC Berkeley in Performance Studies. You can follow her travels at heymiyuki.wordpress.com and email her at heymiyuki@gmail.com

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