c c c
queer liberalism and the
racialization of intimacy
Such changes can be defined as changes in structures of feeling. The
term is difficult, but ‘‘feeling’’ is chosen to emphasize a distinction
from more formal concepts of ‘‘world-view’’ or ‘‘ideology.’’ It is not only
that we must go beyond formally held and systematic beliefs, though
of course we have always to include them. It is that we are concerned
with meanings and values as they are actively lived and felt.
—raymond williams,
‘‘Structures of Feeling’’
In many ways this project began in the classroom. For over a
decade now, I have been teaching on a regular basis an intro-
duction to Asian American literature and culture. Although
initially I could not have predicted that I would come to
write a book about queer liberalism, the racialization of inti-
macy, Asian diaspora and migration, and the politics of fam-
ily and kinship, I became increasingly interested in these
issues for a simple reason. Over the years, a growing number
of students in my Asian American literature and culture
classes have come out to me—not as gay or lesbian but as
transnational adoptees.
In recounting their experiences, my students would often
employ the language of the closet and the vocabulary of
shame.∞ They stressed how they felt invisible as trans-
national adoptees and how they felt compelled to come out
of the closet time and again. They also admitted how such
personal disclosures exacerbated their anxieties of being
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