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Assembly Series

A tradition of convening thought leaders since 1953

McKelvey School of Engineering

Love Your Asian Body: What AIDS Taught Us about Sex in a Pandemic

Wednesday, September 8 | 4:00 PM

Women's Building Formal Lounge

Asian American Speaker Series: Eric C. Wat

Sponsored by the Asian American Studies minor, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs 

AIDS was a deadly pandemic that devastated the gay community in the 1980s and 1990s. Typical stories about the AIDS movement are full of death, suffering and anger. Asian American AIDS activists were no stranger to this grief and loss, but they also charted a different path of resistance, one that celebrated joy and sex as a way to bring the community together. In so doing, they redefined a queer Asian identity that is rooted in social justice. Their emphasis on joy is never more important in movement building today.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Arts & Sciences


Arts & Culture



Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Event Contact

Aeryel Williams | aeryel@wustl.edu

Speaker Information

Eric C. Wat is the author of Los Angeles Times-bestselling novel SWIM (Permanent Press, 2019), a story about a gay Asian man dealing with drug addiction and caregiving for his immigrant family. Stephen Hong Sohn at Fordham University called it “part of a growing set of novels that are pushing the boundaries of queer Asian American representations.” His first book, The Making of a Gay Asian Community: An Oral History of Pre-AIDS Los Angeles (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002) was hailed as “a significant and trailblazing work” in queer Asian historiography when it was published. The follow-up to this book, Love Your Asian Body: AIDS Activism in Los Angeles (University of Washington Press, 2021), will be released in October. For a listing of his publications, including short stories, essays, and journal articles, please visit: www.ericwatbooks.com. Eric’s early social justice work in the 1990s centered on AIDS activism and immigrant workers rights. He continues to consult with social movement organizations on program design and evaluation, action research, organizational development, and diversity, equity and inclusion, through coaching, technical assistance, facilitated reflection and storytelling. Since 2014, he’s been the board treasurer of Khmer Girls in Action in Long Beach, CA. His activism continues to influence both his fiction and non-fiction. Occasionally Eric teaches Asian American studies and American studies at California State University at Long Beach. 

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