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When looking at American media, it’s clear that there is a huge lack of Asian representation. This is especially true of queer Asian representation. 

Alice Wu‘s movie “Saving Face” highlights the overlap of cultural and personal identity. Most gay Asian Americans, myself included, have experienced this overlap and can see themselves in the film. 

The main character Wilhelmina faces challenges with her single-parent mother, Ma. Ma tries to find her daughter a man to marry at the community center. Wilhelmina, however, finds interest in a ballet dancer named Vivian. 

As their relationship grows, Wilhelmina still can’t express her true feelings in public. But that isn’t the biggest hurdle that they face in their relationship. 

Wilhelmina’s 48-year-old mother is pregnant and gets kicked out of her home for causing her dad shame. In her new relationship, Wilhelmina struggles to choose between her family and Vivian.

“Saving Face” was made in 2004 but it still holds up today. It reflects my own experience as a queer Asian woman in a traditional household. 

The movie validates the emotions and experiences that most queer Asian Americans face. Queer Asians struggle to choose between their identity and not embarrass their family.  

"Saving Face" also depicts the complexities of living as an Asian American. This film exposes the pressure to marry rich, to be successful, and live up to American standards. Wu uncovers the pressure to achieve the perfect balance of “Americanness.”

(Wilhelmina and Vivien in a scene from “Saving Face”)

This lighthearted cheesy rom-com shows that acting on love will overcome all pressures. “Saving Face” is a necessary film that gives the LGBTQ community the fantasy we all have dreamed of. It instills hope and inspiration in the community for familial acceptance.


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Abigail Heng

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