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Asian Heritage Month: Exploring (un)conditional love in relation to food, space, and queerness

May 17, 2022

May is Asian Heritage Month, an opportunity for people of Asian origin and descent and others to reflect on the histories of discrimination, struggle, belonging, and solidarity that divide and connect us. To celebrate, the GSWS Student Blog will feature student creative work throughout May. 

In Dr. Nadine Attewell’s GSWS course “Queer Relations” (GSWS 321), students explore how intimacy, kinship, and community look and feel like for Asian Canadians and Americans today, drawing inspiration from films, graphic novels, memoirs, and other creative texts by queer and feminist Asian diasporic thinkers like Andrew Ahn, Joella Cabalu, Richard Fung, Hiromi Goto, and Kama La Mackerel. For their final projects, many take the option of producing creative works of their own, which you can explore here, as we share a new post each week in May.

Dr. Attewell will be offering GSWS 321 again in the 2022 fall semester; the course can also be taken for Global Asia credit.

GSWS 321 Student Spotlight: Erwin Inocalla

Inspired by Chosen Family Mixtape Zine, a zine edited by J Wu-O, I decided to create a zine as part of my final project for GSWS 321. I wanted to explore the concept of (un)conditional love in relation to food, space, and my queerness, in an attempt to think carefully about the sorts of limits or conditions I might need to set with my own Filipino diasporic family to protect myself. Initially, I opted for a more narrative structure made up of brief vignettes depicting my experiences of caretaking, family, love, food, and queerness. In the end, though, I found this structure limiting. The experimental form of the zine – the ability to choose how to use space and image, movement and pace, to evoke themes and experiences – allowed me to push further in my thinking and feeling.

After living in Korea alone for a year, I moved back in with my family during the pandemic. This drawing depicts our fridge at home, which these days is crowded with leftovers in containers for my family to separately reheat and eat alone. I was never allowed to do this before. We always used to eat meals together, food fresh and hot from the stove. Here, I think about the ambivalent complexity of my changing relationships with food and with my mother’s love, which animates the work she does as the family caretaker through preparing nourishing Filipino meals.

Artwork by Erwin Inocalla for Dr. Nadine Attewell’s fall 2021 course Queer Relations (GSWS 321)

Student Biography

Erwin Inocalla (he/him) is a queer Filipino Canadian artist, a teacher, and 1.5 generation settler on unceded Coast Salish territory, including the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. His works center the Filipino/a/x diaspora, intergenerational trauma, and queerness. In his free time, Erwin likes to nap with his cat, Meow Meow, film embarrassing Tiktoks (@winterwinterwin), and watch BLs.