An Open Letter to Cazwell and Joey Izrael

Dear Luke Caswell (Cazwell) and Joey,

We, the Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) Steering Committee would like to offer you some advice on your upcoming party, originally titled “Mr. Wong’s Dong Emporium”:

Don’t use racist language and imagery to promote your party.

Whether or not it was your intent, your party theme, complete with the painfully titled “Sum Hung Boys erotic dance troupe,” and woefully insensitive “Happy Endings massage den” evoked an caricatured image of the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community that has been historically used to oppress us and our families. There is a difference between celebrating or even poking fun at people and exploiting words and images that have historically oppressed AAPI people in this country for centuries.

Additionally, queer AAPIs face double exclusion not only from homophobia in their home communities, but also racism in the LGBT community. When gay men nonchalantly evoke references to “yellowface” caricatures, joke about sexual tourism in Asia i.e. “happy endings”, ladyboys, etc., and reduce our multi-faceted and extremely diverse ethnicities to the Asian equivalent of “Uncle Tom”… it dehumanizes queer AAPIs and further marginalizes us from the LGBT community.

We are thankful that you have heard the outcry from our community, apologized, and changed your party title and theme simply to “Dong Emporium.”  But, many of our issues extend well beyond the words and images to the actual content of the party. Yellowface or ching chong chants, for example, would be bad form. There’s a difference between celebrating a community and exploiting a community.

We want this to be a teachable moment for you and the community at large. We love to party. You love to party. Let’s party in a way that brings us together rather than pushing us apart.

And if you’re really interested in hosting an Asian-themed party that celebrates our heritage rather than exploits it? Well, we’re all for that and would be happy to give some suggestions.


GAPIMNY Steering Committee

For those of you who would like to be kept up-to-date with what GAPIMNY is doing to monitor and organize around this event, check out the brilliant Parody page we created. It’s HILARIOUS and spot on.