Mr. Hyphen was created as a way to defy the traditional women's beauty pageant where women were objectified. Hyphen wanted to create a fun, theatrical, dynamic show where men could strut their stuff onstage and challenge oppressive gender stereotypes, with award money going to participant-selected non-profits/social justice movements.
Mr. Hyphen was specifically intended to celebrate the diversity of Asian American men and protest shortsighted societal definitions of masculinity. Today, we’re publically taking that a step further. We want to be intentional and clear about our definition of “male,” in that we aren’t defining it. We recognize that gender identity and masculinity are on a spectrum, and how people express this is as diverse as our broad Asian American community. We wanted to make a public statement to potential applicants of Mr. Hyphen and very purposefully changed the Mr. Hyphen application rules to welcome “male, masculine-of-center*, genderqueer, and transmen” to this contest.
LGBTQ Editor Mia Nakano adds:
In overt and subversive ways, we can perpetuate the binaries that run our society. Are you Asian or not? Are you male or female? Although the Mr. Hyphen competition was open to transmen, and didn’t exclude the genderqueer/gender non-conforming communities, it also didn’t intentionally welcome the T/GNC folks either.
This affirming and transparent statement aligns very deeply with the roots and heart of Hyphen. Welcoming and honoring our intersectionalities, whether it’s being hapa, mixed race, gay, bi, or trans. We are all part of Hyphen and our community is more resilient, expressive, and deep because of the pluralities of who we are.
*Masculine of Center (MoC), which, in its evolving definition, recognizes the cultural breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer womyn and gender nonconforming/trans people who tilt toward the masculine side of the genderspectrum -- including a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, macha, dom, trans masculine, boi, etc. (B. Cole, 2008) from http://www.brownboiproject.org/mission_core_values.html