Global Divas

Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora

Global Divas

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

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Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: Published: December 2003

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies

A vivid ethnography of the global and transnational dimensions of gay identity as lived by Filipino immigrants in New York City, Global Divas challenges beliefs about the progressive development of a gay world and the eventual assimilation of all queer folks into gay modernity. Insisting that gay identity is not teleological but fraught with fissures, Martin Manalansan IV describes how Filipino gay immigrants, like many queers of color, are creating alternative paths to queer modernity and citizenship. He makes a compelling argument for the significance of diaspora and immigration as sites for investigating the complexities of gender, race, and sexuality.

Manalansan locates diasporic, transnational, and global dimensions of gay and other queer identities within a framework of quotidian struggles ranging from everyday domesticity to public engagements with racialized and gendered images to life-threatening situations involving AIDS. He reveals the gritty, mundane, and often contradictory deeds and utterances of Filipino gay men as key elements of queer globalization and transnationalism. Through careful and sensitive analysis of these men’s lives and rituals, he demonstrates that transnational gay identity is not merely a consumable product or lifestyle, but rather a pivotal element in the multiple, shifting relationships that queer immigrants of color mobilize as they confront the tribulations of a changing world.


“One thing's for sure, until we learn to move past a Said-inspired model of critique, Global Divas will continue to challenge our research with its insistence on the lived cultural reality of its subjects. This is a challenging but inspiring social anthropology.” — Gilbert Caluya, Intersections

“Through a deeply textured and assiduous examination of the pageantry of everyday life, Global Divas incisively outlines the ways in which Filipino gay men articulate forms of citizenship in and through the specificities of queer diasporic culture.” — Lily Cho , American Quarterly

"[E]ngaging and informative to people of all colors, gay as well as straight, immigrant as well as American. . . . Uplifting, empowering, and provocative. . . ." — Ximena Gallardo , Reconstruction

"[T]his book's strength lies in its convincing account of the ways that a community of immigrant men do not passively assimilate themselves to American gay culture but contest and rearticulate Western notions of gayness in building new lives and new forms of same-sex relationships in their adopted home." — Peter A. Jackson , Southeast Asian Studies

"[U]seful for those of us researching sex, sexual and gender differences in these intersections and in intersections with race, ethnicity, and other relationships of power." — André P. Grace , Journal of International Migration and Integration

"Filipinos are among the world's most energetic and high-profile emigrants and migrant workers. . . . Moreover, they're seen as good-humored and possessing a fun-loving exuberance, at least in the popular imagination.These qualities, together with other attributes, are considered and assessed with admirable caution and wit in this accessible . . . book. . . . [M]ore than half the book consists of discussion of the experience of Manalansan's 58 interviewees, and there's plenty there to interest the general reader, especially one alert to the style of one of Asia's most flamboyant peoples." — Bradley Winterton , Taipei Times

"For readers of this journal who are concerned about Asia, especially the Philippines, and the fate of its migrants in the United States, this book is a must-read. . . . The reader can look forward to many . . . revealing utterances, unfolding a nuanced description of the experiences of Filipino gay men in the diaspora across a wide range of topics. . . . [A] remarkable ethnography. . . . I am pleased to add my accolades to Manalansan's landmark collection." — Trinity A. Ordona, Journal of Asian Studies

"From the perspective of studies of modern homosexualities in the West, this book's strength lies in its convincing account of the ways that a community of immigrant men do not passively assimilate themselves to American gay culture but contest and rearticulate Western notions of gayness in building new lives and new forms of same-sex relationships in their adopted home. . . . Manalansan helps us understand the diasporic Filipino homosexual experience in America. . . ." — Peter A. Jackson, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

"Global Divas is part of a new and exciting body of literature that disrupts totalizing discourses of globalization within L/G/B/T Studies and popular culture. . . . [I]ts examination of the intersections of class, culture, and citizenship on individual and community identity make it an important text for those of use who write in Global, Ethnic, and/or L/G/B/T Studies." — Linda Heidenreich, Journal of American Ethnic History

"Nothing is as transforming as viewing the world through another pair of eyes. By illuminating such a specific fragment of multicultural New York, Manalansan sheds light on the universal notion that migration, and travel in general, can be the ultimate reality check." — Out Traveler

“A lively ethnography that brilliantly reveals how Filipino gay immigrants manipulate symbols and meanings in order to survive and even flourish within the racial, ethnic, class, and gendered spaces of America and a globalizing world. Global Divas is a must-read for all those interested in the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status.” — Yen Le Espiritu, author of Home Bound: Filipino American Lives across Cultures, Communities, and Countries

“Global Divas points toward a truly cross-cultural anthropology of queerness in rendering the lives of Filipino gay men in New York. Martin F. Manalansan IV breaks through mainstream ignorance and stereotyping to achieve a rich portrait of the rituals, attitudes, language, and travails of his immigrant subjects and by extension, of queer immigrant experience in general.” — Esther Newton, author of Margaret Mead Made Me Gay: Personal Essays, Public Ideas


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Martin F. Manalansan IV is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the editor of Cultural Compass: Ethnographic Explorations of Asian America and coeditor of Queer Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface vii

Introduction: Points of Departure 1

1 The Borders Between Bakla and Gay 21

2 Speaking in Transit: Queer Language and Translated Lives 45

3 "Out There": The Topography of Race and Desire in the Global City 62

4 The Biyuti and Drama of everyday Life 89

5 "To Play with the World": The Pageantry of Identities 126

6 Tita Aida: Intimate Geographies of Suffering 152

Conclusion: Locating the Diasporic Deviant/Diva 184

Notes 193

An Elusive Glossary 199

Works Cited 205

Index 219
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Winner, 2003 Ruth Benedict Award, Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists (SOLGA)

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3217-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3204-6
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