Mr. Hyphen 2010 finalist Ryan Takemiya.
As we gear up for Mr. Hyphen 2011, we hear another former contestant talk about his experiences on the Hyphen stage. Ryan Takemiya, finalist from 2010, reflects on activism, contestant camaraderie, and being a piece of meat.
a finalist from Mr. Hyphen 2010,
I'd like to take a moment to speak out and break the silence about this
demeaning objectification of men that has been going on for 5 years! That’s right, I’m outraged. You may think that I'm just a pretty face
and a hot body, but there's more to me, more to these ruggedly
devilish good looks and this near perfect bone structure, and I demand
people stop treating me like a piece of meat to see the real me
... Just kidding!
Truth be told, my bone structure ain’t all that great and in Mr. Hyphen there's actually very little objectification going on. Okay, there may have been some hooting and hollering last year, especially when I took my clothes off. But that's another story!
In fact, as a former contestant I felt nothing but support and love from my community for all the hard work I have put into my activism. See, Mr. Hyphen is actually designed to turn regular beauty pageants on their heads. In my case, in more ways than one! I was contacted by the amazing womyn of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), and they asked me -- nay, directed me -- to apply and win the cash prize for them. And I was more than happy to be to play the part of a prize-winning racehorse for the benefit of my powerful Asian sisters.
The focus of Mr. Hyphen is to highlight Asian American male activists who have contributed greatly to our community and to the movement, awarding them $1,000 dollars for a Asian American nonprofit organization of their choice. So, it's not merely a chance to objectify men, but it's a chance to support our entire community together in a way that is fun and that takes a humorous jab at mainstream culture. I can't even begin to tell you how rewarding my experience was as one of the five finalists. Not only did I get to “strut” my proverbial “stuff” on stage in front of 350 screaming womyn, but I also felt like I joined a community of friends and comrades in the movement; a new family, if you will. Which was the most important part for me and the part I will cherish forever both in my heart and in my work.
To me, one of the greatest problems our community faces is an unconscious -- yet active -- distancing of ourselves from one another. This is done either geographically, through technology, or even through apathy. And it is this distance between us that I believe is the biggest obstacle to community organizing today. But Mr. Hyphen is one of the few events that I've ever seen that brings together so many different community folk, activists, and organizations together in one night under one roof all for the purpose of watching five men make absolute and utter fools of themselves -- and to cheer them on like brother, like they are family. For a few hours on a November night we can put away our troubles and let loose. We have fun together, we scream, we hoot, we holler. We meet each other and we make friends … Facebook friends even. We build lasting friendships … relationships even. And that is what's called community building.
I look forward to this year’s Mr. Hyphen not only so that I can watch five grown men mimic child beauty queens, but so that I can watch my people take one step closer to each other.
That's the real beauty behind the handsome face of Mr. Hyphen!
--Ryan Takemiya, Mr. Hyphen Finalist 2010
Ryan Takemiya is founder and director of Rama.
Mr. Hyphen 2011 will take place on November 5 at the Brava! Theater. For more information and to purchase your tickets, please visit www.hyphenmagazine.com/mrhyphen.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!