by Sally Tran | October 10, 2012

I whip my hair back and forth

In the beginning of my journey as an API Equality Intern, the first thing we were asked was to come up with future goals and projects we wanted to pursue. The first thing that popped into my head was hair. Crazy right? YES, hair! But why hair?

Throughout my whole life my insecurities would just eat me up alive. They taunt me with constant whispers in my head telling me what, when, and how I should look. Yet I feel obligated to keep up with such demands. What keeps me from losing my sanity is the attainment of my long, silky, Asian, black, 14-inch hair. Vulnerable, pressured, and dependent is what you see. I see it too. My long hair as the passing privilege I receive shading away my queer and Asian identity. Reconcile. Is it to forget? To blend in, is that what this society is about?  Why do I feel this way? Dependent on something that has become the marker of femininity. But to be feminine is it to conform? Or is it a process for me to reclaim?

So in the mist of creating my project, I wanted to document the lives of the Queer API Womyn and Trans community. I wanted to narrow my audience more, which is why I decided to focus my project on the Queer API Womyn and Trans community, instead of the queer community as a whole. Being queer, female, API identified, I felt the need and pressure to conform to the western ideals and notions of what we call, “normative femininity.” To document the lives of a community that I personally identify with is very empowering to me because of the lack of visibility womyn in general have, especially being a queer women of color.

“So why’d you cut your hair?”

 “You look so much prettier with long hair.”

“Oh it’s because she’s gay.”  Maybe it is? “Oh, it’s ‘cause she’s just a hipster.”

Now I’m convinced I’m not attractive enough. THIS is what I deal with on the daily. And please.  Don’t get me started on family gatherings…So  I’m asking myself.. Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel so vulnerable?.. I mean hair is just hair right?


My video documentary documents the different and unique struggles of what it means to be queer and Asian in our society and how the connotations of hair make up one’s identity. I traveled from all over Bay Area, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Davis to interview amazing lovely queers ranging from 18-28 years old. I hope you experience all the love, hate, agitation, grief, empowerment, and liberation, from all the interviewees who made this video documentary possible.

A preview of the video will be shown at SomaR Bar on October, 25th. Visit this link for details! “Express Yourself”.. an API Equality – NorCal Benefit 2012 

Stay tuned for more details about the full length feature through