Amy Sueyoshi

Portrait of Amy Sueyoshi
Image Credit: Paul Asper

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.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

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.
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.
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."
This lecture highlights the importance of applying a queer lens to ethnic studies with a dominant focus on Asian American Studies.
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.
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
To consider LGBTQ people in the Japanese American incarceration camps might appear as blasphemy, "un-American" in its bringing up of frivolous sexuality in the midst of an egregious violation of basic civil rights. However doing so, allows us to think about the history of queers within the Japanese American community and its implications today.