The Rice Queen Diaries

The Rice Queen Diaries (A Memoir)


In this moving autobiography, Daniel Gawthrop writes about the politics and pleasures of being a self-identified “rice queen”: a gay man who is attracted to Asians. Navigating through the jungles of western cities like London and Vancouver, the humid streets of Bangkok and Saigon, and the dimly lit recesses of personal memory, Gawthrop explores the multicultural minefields of sexuality and culture as he articulates the manners and contradictions of his desires, and where they take him.

Evoking the themes of Edward Said’s Orientalism, The Rice Queen Diaries  is as much an intimate statement about culture and otherness as it is about gay desire. Traversing three continents, these diaries are a personal reckoning, a bold coming to terms with the nuances of love and sexuality that resonate in all of us.

Why was I so attracted to Far East Asians, rather than repelled by them, as Granddad’s generation had been? In making these young men a part of my universe, I had altered the family narrative from a politics of Yellow Peril to one of Yellow Fever; from Asian Invasion to Asian Persuasion, in two generations. How had this happened? Closing the scrapbook, I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. There was no denying the power of genetics. The traces of Granddad could be found in the eyes, the mouth, the jawline, the puffy cheeks. With the exception of a few trendy Asian habits (shirts made in Hong Kong, a preference for stir fries), everything about me screamed Rule Britannia…

–from Chapter One

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Rice & Potatoes – Daniel Gawthrop reads fromThe Rice Queen Diaries at an Asian American Writers Workshop event in New York City on October 13, 2005. The event was moderated by Rutgers University’s David L. Eng (center) and also featured Potato Queen author Rafaelito V. Sy.