Mr. Hyphen 2010 finalist Ryan Takemiya.
As we gear up for Mr. Hyphen 2011, we hear another former
contestant talk about his experiences on the Hyphen stage. Ryan
Takemiya, finalist from 2010, reflects on activism, contestant camaraderie, and being a piece of
a finalist from Mr. Hyphen 2010,
I'd like to take a moment to speak out and break the silence about this
demeaning objectification of men that has been going on for 5 years! That’s right, I’m outraged. You may think that I'm just a pretty face
and a hot body, but there's more to me, more to these ruggedly
devilish good looks and this near perfect bone structure, and I demand
people stop treating me like a piece of meat to see the real me
Truth be told, my bone structure ain’t all that great and
in Mr. Hyphen there's actually very little objectification
going on. Okay, there may have been some hooting and hollering last year, especially when I took my clothes off. But that's another
In fact, as a former contestant I felt nothing but support and
love from my community for all the hard work I have put into my
activism. See, Mr. Hyphen is actually designed to turn
regular beauty pageants on their heads. In my case, in more ways than one!
I was contacted by the amazing womyn of the National Asian Pacific
American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), and they asked me -- nay, directed
me -- to apply and win the cash prize for them. And I was more than happy
to be to play the part of a prize-winning racehorse for the benefit of
my powerful Asian sisters.
The focus of Mr. Hyphen is to
highlight Asian American male activists who have contributed greatly to
our community and to the movement, awarding them $1,000 dollars for
a Asian American nonprofit organization of their choice. So, it's not
merely a chance to objectify men, but it's a chance to support our
entire community together in a way that is fun and that takes a humorous
jab at mainstream culture. I can't even begin to tell you how rewarding
my experience was as one of the five finalists. Not only did I get to
“strut” my proverbial “stuff” on stage in front of 350 screaming womyn,
but I also felt like I joined a community of friends and comrades in the
movement; a new family, if you will. Which was the most important part
for me and the part I will cherish forever both in my heart and in my
me, one of the greatest problems our community faces is an unconscious --
yet active -- distancing of ourselves from one another. This is done
either geographically, through technology, or even through apathy. And
it is this distance between us that I believe is the biggest obstacle to
community organizing today. But Mr. Hyphen is one of the
few events that I've ever seen that brings together so many different
community folk, activists, and organizations together in one night under
one roof all for the purpose of watching five men make absolute and
utter fools of themselves -- and to cheer them on like brother, like they are family. For a few hours on a November night we can put away
our troubles and let loose. We have fun together, we scream, we hoot,
we holler. We meet each other and we make friends … Facebook friends
even. We build lasting friendships … relationships even. And that is
what's called community building.
look forward to this year’s Mr. Hyphen not only so that I can watch
five grown men mimic child beauty queens, but so that I can watch my
people take one step closer to each other.
That's the real beauty behind the handsome face of Mr. Hyphen!
--Ryan Takemiya, Mr. Hyphen Finalist 2010
Ryan Takemiya is founder and director of Rama.
Mr. Hyphen 2011 will take place on November 5 at the Brava!
Theater. For more information and to purchase your tickets, please