Shortly after the 2016 shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, Anthony Ocampo began writing his latest book.
the book, “Brown and Jay in Los Angeles“Tells the stories of gay sons of immigrants in Los Angeles – specifically Filipino and Latino Americans – including his own. Published September 19.”
“It hit me so hard because a lot of the guys I’ve met have come of age in these kinds of POC places,” he said. “I am one of them.”
Ocampo, a professor of sociology at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, began working on the book a decade ago. He initially took a scientific approach while writing it, but nightclub shooting pulse Push him to change direction.
“It kind of stopped me in my tracks,” he said. “I felt the version of the book I had at the time was very academic. And so I did some soul-searching after shooting Pulse and felt I should write the book in a completely different way with a sense of urgency.”
While Ocampo was working on the book, the United States legalized same-sex marriage, after which the majority of people seemed to think that all was well for the LGBTQ community. He wanted his writings to make it clear that while same-sex marriage now exists, gay men have previously led lives with extreme hardships in their families, communities, and schools.
“For me, it was really important to record all the work that goes into just a simple existence because I felt like people were forgetting how hard it is to navigate these two identities,” he said.
Some of the topics covered in the book are the definition of masculinity that men learn early in their lives and dealing with the pressure to succeed academically.
In one chapter, Ocampo writes about “covering,” a concept that refers to how marginalized people inflate part of their identity to offset the impact of a marginalized part of their identity. For the Filipino and Latin American gay men he interviewed, many turned to academic coverage — which “would allow them to win points they would lose if their parents knew they were gay” — in primary and secondary schools.
Ocampo wrote that one of the book’s main goals is to “connect scientific and public conversations around issues of race, immigration, and LGBT.” It is something inspired by his experience when he was pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology during his twenties. He decided that his expertise in the field would be immigration and race, and noted that it was rare for conversations on these topics to include the experiences of gay immigrants or immigrant children.
Ocampo said the men featured in “Brown and Gay in LA” are redefining what it means to be gay, male and American.
“The idea that gay men are not men is a misconception,” he said. “This was something they weren’t always given the opportunity to do because people would call them f, or people might say you’re not a real man because you like other men.”
He added that they also challenge the preconceived notion that the American is a white middle-class member.
“When you think of America, you hardly think of the children of gay immigrants, even though they are such a large part of the mosaic of this country,” he said.
Writing the book was a healing experience for Ocampo, who came out when he was 22.
“What that means is that I’ve lived half my life without even remembering or even thinking about a large part of who I am,” he said. “And what that does is it can make you feel very lonely.”
But he added that every time he talked about his identity, whether in interviews or regular conversations, he would feel a little lonely.
Ocampo hopes his book will make people of color look up to and empowered.
He also hopes to provide readers who do not share the identities of the people in his book an opportunity to understand them.
“I think any time you make the effort to see the world through a different lens, it makes you a better person,” he said.