Distinguished Lecturers
Amy Sueyoshi

Amy Sueyoshi

Amy Sueyoshi is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at San Francisco State University. She previously served as dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at the same institution, the first and longest standing college of its kind. Her research area lies at the intersection of Asian American Studies and Sexuality Studies. She has authored two monographs Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi and Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental.” Her essay “Breathing Fire: Remembering Asian Pacific American Activism in Queer History” was a part of the award-winning National Park Service LGBT Theme Study published in 2017. Amy is also a founding co-curator of the GLBT History Museum, seeded the intergenerational Dragon Fruit Oral History Project at API Equality Northern California, and is the co-founder and co-chair of the biennial Queer History Conference hosted by the Committee on LGBT History. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Clio Award for her contribution to queer history, San Francisco Pride Community Grand Marshal, and the Phoenix Award for her service to the Asian and Pacific Islander queer women and transgender community.

OAH Lectures by Amy Sueyoshi

While the United States wrestles with a college completion crisis, the Division of Institutional Research at San Francisco State University found a high correlation between Ethnic Studies curriculum and increased student retention and graduation rates. Majors and minors in the College of Ethnic Studies graduated within six years at rates up to 92%. Those who were neither majors nor minors in Ethnic Studies also boosted their graduation rates by up to 72% by taking just a few courses in Africana Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Latina/Latino Studies, or Race and Resistance Studies. Faculty in the College of Ethnic Studies demonstrated significant levels of high impact instruction as compared with their colleagues across the university. 

Charles Warren Stoddard, founder of San Francisco's secret society of elites called the Bohemian Club, created a network of "tempermental men" for whom the "Orient" stood as a central unifying theme. Stoddard's relationship with Japanese immigrant poet Yone Noguchi, events at the Bohemian Club, and finally a fellatio ring organized by club members illuminates how race crucially came to inform same-sex desires and identity at the turn-of-the-century.

White reporters, writers, artists, and others conflated Chinese and Japanese, previously seen as two races, into one. There emerged the Oriental—a single pan-Asian American stereotype weighted with sexual and gender meaning. The quest to forge new frontiers in gender and sexual freedom reinforced—and spawned—racial inequality through the ever evolving Oriental.

This lecture is a personal and professional journey of engagement in queer public history at the GLBT History Museum, J-Sei, and an oral history project with API Equality Northern California

Immigrant Yone Noguchi, who is best known today as the father of Asian American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, settled in San Francisco in the 1890s. Within seven years after his arrival, he impregnated his editor Leonie Glimour and became engaged to Alabama's "first historian" Ethel Armes as he wrote love letters to San Francisco Bohemian Club founder Charles Warren Stoddard. Noguchi's affairs poignantly reveal vibrant polyamorous intimacies among first generation Japanese who are historically seen as strictly heterosexual and forced into debilitating asexuality in turn-of-the-century "bachelor societies."

A survey of queer Asian Pacific American history from the mid 1800s through 2000. Based on the paper "Breathing Fire" published with the National Park Service.

This lecture highlights the importance of applying a queer lens to ethnic studies with a dominant focus on Asian American Studies. By resetting to a queer frame of mind, Asian America could move out of the shadows of inadequacy that often defines our existence and create new standards of 'excellence.' A thick Asian butch with a shaved head working on her pick-up truck, two wispy gay Asians with amazing hair holding hands as they wait for the bus, and a transwoman with a five o'clock clock shadow walking around in stilettos in the broad light of day, could all become provocative models of Asian America.

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