I attended a special event at the White House to celebrate Asian American history month, which I never know when it is. I am guessing it is May because this is May. But to me every month is Asian history month mostly because I am in a constant state of learning about it and myself and how we came to be in this country and how we stay here and constantly reinvent and redefine who we are.
It was a really cool shindig, with lots of people I absolutely adore in the (white) house such as angryasianman (who is super hot and sexy in person btw – sorry to objectify you but you’re adorable), DJ Rekha, Kelly Hu and my old friend Kal Penn who actually works there! I saw him outside with a clipboard, which to me means working because nobody has a clipboard unless they are hard at work.
We were treated to lots of the good white house crème brulee and hot bhangra beats from DJ Rekha and then waited for the President to come and give a speech. I haven’t been to the White House since the Clinton administration, so it was a wonderful feeling to come back after all these years and feel so welcome. Even though the building is the same, the place has changed so much. All the White House staffers are so young! It’s really fantastic to see the younger generation so passionate about politics and devoting all their energy to the Obama administration. It’s rock and roll and very exciting!
Speaking of rock and roll, of course when Obama was giving his speech, I secured a spot right in the front row. I have been to enough rock shows and been a groupie long enough to know that when you want to get backstage, you have to stand in front of the lead singer, not directly facing him but slightly to his left, where the rockstar eye naturally rests. Anyways, during his speech, the president actually winked at me! He came down off the podium and walked over to me and held my hand for several minutes and told me he was a fan of mine and that I am very funny and he enjoyed my comedy immensely. He asked what I was doing and if I was touring and I said I was working for Lifetime and about to go on tour and overall, trying to represent. And he said, “well you are doing a fine job representing us all… a wonderful job! Very very funny!” and then he got pulled away by his multitude of security and staff and fans. It was an incredible moment for me and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Because to me Obama is much more than the leader of the free world. Yes he is president and he is the most important dude on earth, but his meaning goes far beyond political office. What Obama represents to me is the idea that we have come so far as a nation in terms of race and acceptance and inclusion that we can have a president who is not white. I think that this resounds so deeply with me and all those who have felt at one time or another like ‘the other.’ Obama’s meaning in society today is practically mythological. His presence means we have arrived somewhere different. Somewhere better. This is the world I would like to live in.
Politics are changing, and it’s tremendously exciting. If you live in San Francisco, I urge you to check out Theresa Sparks who is running for office there. She is another person, like Barack Obama, whose meaning and work and presence is almost mythological. Almost legend. Her story is much like that of Harvey Milk, and she is so similar that Stuart Milk has spoken on her behalf many times and also is a major player in her campaign for office in San Francisco. I have had the pleasure of knowing Theresa for many years. I first met her when she invited me to join the board of Good Vibrations, where I served for two years. I got to know her very well through our many board meetings and lots and lots of dinner parties talking late into the night. I was impressed by her on so many levels. Theresa Sparks is a transwoman who has fought homophobia and prejudice and hatred coming from so many different sides, eventually prevailing over so much ignorance to finally becoming President of the police commission. It’s incredible that a transgendered person is capable of surviving in the police force at all but to have the strength and passion and intellect and moxie to actually become the President of the police commission – it’s a downright miracle. I believe in Theresa Sparks and her continuing capacity for miracles. She has worked tirelessly for the LGBT community in San Francisco, focusing primarily on the transgendered community, which is the part of our family that always seems to get left out, and she is a true political icon and heroic figure for me and countless others.
Still, her campaign has been fraught with much ignorance. When seeking endorsement from the ‘liberal’ women’s political groups, Theresa has been told that they only support ‘real women.’ I think this is disgusting. Not only is Theresa Sparks a real woman, she is an inspiration to all women. She is a fighter, a survivor, a whipsmart businesswoman, a mother, the kind of leader my beloved hometown needs. She is someone who will change San Francisco, and in doing so, change the world, something that has to happen and happen right now. I no longer live in the beautiful city by the bay, but I still love it, I still care about what happens there and so I urge you to see what Theresa Sparks is doing. Like Obama, she’s a symbol that the world is changing. And we are all better for it.