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Noodle: The Steamy, Positive Voice Of Gay APIs

NCM Profile

Julie Johnson Posted: Feb 25, 2004

The editors of Noodle, a San Francisco based quarterly magazine for gay Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, show facets to issues like same-sex marriage little discussed in the mainstream.

Editor Chris Brown says that for his community, many of whom are first- and second-generation immigrants, the right to same-sex matrimony is an immigration issue. Without the citizenship rights that come with marriage, international same-sex couples face extra obstacles in their relationship.

But this is just one of the complex topics affecting APIs that Noodle can cover in a way other mainstream and queer publications cant. Other queer publications arent writing stories about Filipino-American families targeted by the governments war on terror or the former NFL star from Hawaii who came out and is living happily with his partner and twin babies.

We dont [write] for people who need an education, we do it for people who get it, says editor Chris Brown. So we dont go out and rehash the old issues.

Thats why Noodle avoids covering overdone issues like stories about white men who exclusively go out with Asian men and vice versa, the editors say. In their fourth issue, Noodle published an article on Asian and African American couples that tackled questions about why Asian men werent visibly dating other men of color questions untouched in mainstream queer publications.

Noodle taps into a market starved for attention and gives visibility and voice, showcasing people doing good work in the gay API community. Departments like Watch Out, a report on media visibility, and Livin Long, a health column, deal with concerns specific to APIs that arent talked about elsewhere.

We know our readership is looking for a magazine that speaks to them full time, and not the occasional spring cleaning, says Brown.

Publisher and editor Max Lau has wanted a magazine for gay APIs since he was a student at Berkeley in the early 90s. Lau, like many of his colleagues at Noodle, has been an active organizer in the gay API community since he came out in college, so it was a natural step for him to pick up the ball and start the magazine himself.

Before, we would never be part of the discussion. It's important to get the visibility, and I felt it was my duty to do that because it had never done it before, says Lau. We're so asexualized in mainstream media and totally sexualized in the gay media. It's important to create an array of images from the Asian community.

Brown, Laus right hand man, remembers being horrified at an eight-page Navy-themed spread in another queer publication that had all white models except for one African American holding a broom.

Obviously they were thinking theyre doing someone a favor for including that guy. We publish Noodle to fill in the gaps where other people arent thinking about us, Lau says. Were representing ourselves because no one else is going to.

Even Noodless sexy fashion spreads of men in Speedos relaxing by the pool work to show positive sexy images of APIs. Brown says they try to show a fraternity and camaraderie that doesnt play a role in fetish magazines.

No ones wearing a samurai outfit or some weird tribal loincloth.

Noodle has won a number of awards since its premiere issue in 2002. The Professional Journalists Association recognized the magazine for an article on Hepititis B by Joel Engardio. In 2003, Paul Lee Canons series on drug use in the Asian community won an award at the NCM EXPO and Awards Ceremony, and Noodle was in the top 25 of Mr. Magazines notable newly launched magazines.

Since they began working on the first issue, Noodle has clearly found its untapped market. The magazine was picked up by a major distributor from the start and now has an international subscriber base, including Spain, Australia, Guam, Hong Kong and Taiwan in addition to major U.S. cities.

They were even able to get the outspoken comic Margaret Cho to appear on the front cover of their premiere issue.

Its one thing for her to be Asian, its one thing for her to be ostensibly queer, and another thing to be a big fag hag, but I think this is the first opportunity she had to speak to all three facets of who she is, says Brown. Coming out with her on the cover is perfect for what were trying to do.

Check out Noodle at www.noodlemagazine.com.

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