Logo's new reality show "Finding Prince Charming" could have been a little more charming because the prince isn't able to find any Asians. It's disappointing since the show included more African American and Latino bachelors. But it failed to include any Asian Americans. Gay Asian men are also looking for love.
We are constantly searching for our faces and voices in the media. Asian Americans are the nation's fastest growing minority group. And we are a growing segment of the LGBT community. Yet, LGBT Asian Americans are often overlooked or marginalized. Logo's "Finding Prince Charming" is the most recent example.
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) has been fighting for more positive portrayals of LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders in the media. There are many LGBT Asian actors, bachelors, and contestants waiting in the wings. But, sadly, only 6% of LGBTQ characters on television are Asian or Pacific Islander, according to GLAAD. That percentage is the lowest of any group and, what's worse, is the highest in over ten years. We've got a long way to go.
An Asian American contestant on Logo's "Finding Prince Charming" could have brought so much to the show. Diversity and inclusion is more than simply having an Asian face to check the "Asian" box. An Asian American contest could have brought certain values and perspectives to add to the richness of the contestant's experiences. Typical Asian American values of family, honoring parents and elders, and hard work ethic could have been have been brought in through an Asian American contestant. These narratives are what's often missing. And aren't these some of the values that we all want our future Prince Charming to have?
Moreover, gay Asian men are sexy. Sure, there was a time when all Asians in media were emasculated computer geeks or heavily accented foreign students. But I think today it's well settled that Asian men are beautiful, bodied, and often sought-after. Let's not fetishize the community, but rather, let's portray the full spectrum of the LGBT community.
It would have been nice if Logo took a few more affirmative actions to promote diversity that is inclusive of Asian Americans in its new reality show. Maybe next time, I hope.
After this post, one of the contestants, Brandon Kneefel, emailed the writer. He acknowledged the absence of casting Asians but noted that he is part Asian. His father is Indonesian (born in Java) and Polynesian. He is not Latino as many people assume. His dark features are because of his Asian heritage.
The writer acknowledges this error. The writer executed due diligence to determine if any of the contestants identified as Asian and was not able to identify that heritage for any of them. But this was a mistake.
Let's all be proud of Brandon and cheer him on.
Glenn D. Magpantay is the Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander organizations. Contact him at email@example.com