A Conversation on Asian Male Masculinity by Kathleen Tso







A posh lounge in the exclusive Ludlow House in NYC’s Lower East Side became a forum filled with all manner of dope Asian American creatives and activists gathered to talk about something not immediately associated with Asian men — masculinity.

by: Michael D. Nguyen

A panel hosted by none other than reporter and Hot 97 DJ Miss Info featured some of New York's most up-and-coming and established Asian American men. The panel consisted of fashion writer and editor Jian DeLeon of Highsnobiety and formerly of GQ and Complex; David Yi, founder of men’s beauty and grooming site Very Good Light; Jeff Staple, entrepreneur and founder of Staple Design; Kevin Kreider, fitness trainer and model; and rapper Rick Lee, also known by his stage name Lyricks.

Miss Info set the stage literally and thematically for the panel by calling out the need for spaces where Asian Americans could finally speak up.

"Where are the places where we actually get to air out our grievances?” said Miss Info, "Where do we get to talk shit? What are our town halls?”

The panel questions ranged from how the definition of masculinity has changed in the face of globalization to depictions of Asian men in media and entertainment to broader discussions about how Asian baes of all kinds can address racial and social injustice.

The final portion of the event opened the panel to questions from the audience. Tough questions related to domestic violence and mental health in the community were raised.

Below are just a few snippets from the panel, where complex and challenging views on masculinity were offered up and dissected.

Two hours isn’t enough to even scratch the surface of a topic this heady, but it’s clear that the definition of masculinity is changing -- changing fast -- and moving towards something that is tied more closely with one’s personal views, outlooks, and even appearance. Still, the question is far from settled, and won’t be without more Asian voices speaking up.

Props to everyone who contributed to the panel and organizing, especially our panelists and moderator Miss Info.

"I think we as a culture shame men. I think really when it comes down to it we protect and want to uplift marginalized communities, as we should...but with guys in 2017 we just assume that men should know. Men should know what it means to be a good man.” - David Yi.

"Yes, masculinity does come with a physicality, it comes with confidence, it comes with the way you hold yourself, your body, your body language... I find that it’s challenging, too, because the whole Asian American community doesn’t accept that.” Kevin Kreider.

"Vulnerability is the new thing. Men who really understand weakness can really emphasize the value of having strength.” Jian DeLeon.

“I don’t go around promoting that Staple [Design] is owned by a Chinese person. I don’t want to be judged on being Chinese. I just want to have a dope clothing and make dope shoes. I don’t want to make dope shoes for a Chinaman.” — Jeff Staple

"The journey of a man is he tries out things... doesn’t know shit and when gets to that point where he realizes, 'OK, I’ve gotta be comfortable with who I am' -- I think that’s where masculinity comes from. - Lyricks

To listen to the full audio recording of the panel discussion click play below!