Dr. Amy Sueyoshi and Yone Noguchi
Dr. Amy Sueyoshi and Yone Noguchi

SAN JOSE — “Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi,” featuring Dr. Amy Sueyoshi, will be presented on Sunday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m. at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 N. Fifth St. in San Jose Japantown.

At the turn of the century, Japanese immigrant poet Yone Noguchi, the father of renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi, took a number of rather unconventional and contradictory actions. He wrote love letters to Western writer Charles Warren Stoddard; impregnated editor Leonie Gilmour; and proposed marriage to journalist Ethel Armes.

Sueyoshi will discuss her work and the complex interaction between lived sexualities and socio-legal mores, tracing how one man negotiated affection across cultural, linguistic, and moral divides to find fulfillment in unconventional yet acceptable ways.

Sueyoshi’s book, “Queer Compulsions,” unveils Noguchi’s interracial and same-sex affairs to assert that Asian Americans found romantic fulfillment even within a California that was reportedly anti-Japanese and heteronormative (based on the attitude that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality). Moreover, Asians and Pacific Islanders would play a critical role in defining what attraction and affection meant within America’s supposedly all-white bohemian community.

Noguchi’s intimate life illustrates how seemingly sex-segregated worlds of “romantic friendships” collided in desire and deception. While his affairs seem to resist existing mores, they powerfully reflected gender, racial, and imperial realities of the time. Most notably, he manipulated race, gender, and sexuality in his quest for personal happiness.

Sueyoshi is the associate dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. She is a historian by training, specializing in sexuality, gender, and race. She has published and lectured on a number of issues regarding race and sexuality, including cross-dressing, pornography, and marriage equality.

Cost: Free with admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children under 12, free). RSVP: Contact PublicPrograms@jamsj.org or call (408) 294-3138 to reserve a spot.

In celebration of LGBT History Month, the San Jose JACL is presenting a program at 3 p.m. at the Issei Memorial Building, 565 N. Fifth St. “Looking for Jiro Onuma: Queer Perspectives on Wartime Incarceration” featuring Dr. Tina Takemoto, explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.

Seating is limited to 70. For more information call the San Jose JACL office at (408) 295-1250 or email Iris Lou at inky1lou1452@yahoo.com.

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