Photo of Pahole Sookkasikon by Andria Lo. All Rights Reserved.
The reality sets in after everything has settled down. Winning Mr. Hyphen felt like a '90s movie on the high school outcast blossoming at prom. That was totally a bad example, sorry -- but it has been surreal in all honesty.
I want to thank everyone from Hyphen: Lanlian, Ianna, David, and all the amazing and wonderful guys I competed against, for acknowledging such great organizations and celebrating what it truly means to be Asian in America. I especially want to recognize the nonprofit charities and organizations I represented: the Thai American Scholarship Fund, as well as Helping Janet Liang in conjunction with the Asian American Donor Program (AADP).
Winning the competition for these two worthy charities is important to me on so many levels. The money I will be able to hand the Scholarship Fund as well as AADP will facilitate possibilities which can only make their institutions stronger and more vibrant. For Janet Liang -- who suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (bi-phenotypic) -- the money will be able to partially cover the costs of hosting more bone marrow drives. A donor from one of those drives could one day save a life. In both cases, the underlying narrative for these charities is that the social climate and faces of our communities are changing, as are the issues and experiences which affect them.
Like Angry Asian Man says, I want to keep it real like the rice fields. I want to promote Thai and Southeast Asian American identity fully in the United States and in Asian America. I also want people to hear Janet’s story and those of our other Asian American brothers and sisters who are diagnosed with leukemia. I want this to be a love letter to my parents and a love song to Michelle Maykin of Project Michelle, telling them that we don’t always have to lose. Winning the title of Mr. Hyphen means a lot of things to me, but what I think it actually relays is that we have to fight for one another as well as be brilliant for ourselves.
Read more about Pahole and his causes in today's Associated Press coverage of the Mr. Hyphen competition: "Mr. Hyphen Redefines Image of Asian American Men."