Asian American Studies

Gina Masequesmay


Welcome! This is my eighteenth year as professor in AAS at CSUN. The purpose of this website is two-fold: (1) For students to find out more about me and my classes, and (2) For me to advertise of new classes I want/plan to teach, and to list projects, events, issues and resources that interest me.

Peace! GM, September 18, 2018

My Curriculum Vitae

View my CV (.pdf)  PDF icon

Recent Publication(s)

  • I contributed to a chapter "O-Moi" in Many Bridges, One River: Organizing for Justice in Vietnamese American Communities, edited by Thuan Nguyen and Vy Nguyen. Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, 2017. Please note that in the last part of the chapter about the Trung Sisters and Lady Trieu, the editor incorrectly edited my sentence so it currently reads as if I am confused between the three different women warriors. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi are the Trung Sisters. Lady Trieu is another woman warrior from a different time but as inspirational.


Currently, I'm working on four projects:

  • Vietnamese Entrepreneurship.
  • Considering how to collaborate with others on campus to build a resistance against the corporatization of higher education. Building sustainable activism on campus.
  • Finding collaborators to fine-tune my survey research on Asian Pacific American (APA) attitudes toward LGBT matters. Please go to to fill out the survey if you are of APA background.
  • Rethinking teaching and preparing first-year students, and experimenting on how to incorporate Buddhist psychology insights into teaching.

Past Projects

  • I consulted with Dr. Nhut Ho in Mechanical Engineering on a case study of trust on an automation system.
  • I co-founded the CSUN Positive Space Program and the CSUN Ally Project, which contributed to the curriculum and information for Ally training workshops. I am happy to say that we now have a paid staff and student volunteers to run our Pride Center to support lgbtiqq students.
  • I finished volunteering for 3 different humanitarian organizations in Vietnam from Spring 2008 to Summer 2008, approximately 5 months.
  • The anthology Embodiments of Asian/American Sexualities that Sean Metzger (Duke University) and I co-edited was published by Lexington Books. This work was originally inspired by a conference I co-organized with Dr. Teresa Williams-Leon on November 16, 2002, called "CrossTalk II: Embodiments of API Sexuality."
  • I had helped to co-edit and contribute to the publication of a queer Vietnamese bilingual (Vietnamese and English) homemade magazine called "O-Moi Zine". Its first issue, "Awakening/Tinh Thuc" is about coming out experiences of lesbians, bisexual women and female-to-male transgender of Vietnamese-descent. The zine has poems, short stories, a cartoon, articles, and resources on coming out. The issue came out in February 2005 to celebrate the lunar new year of the rooster! Although it's a while back, it is still significant and the 2nd publication about queer Vietnamese women and transmen.


I was born in Sai Gon Hospital in Viet Nam and grew up in a small town northeast of Sai Gon called Bien Hoa.  A year after the communist "liberated" South Viet Nam, my immediate family (mom, dad, 3 sisters and 3 brothers, paternal grandma, and 4th aunt) and I migrated to France.  We lived in Valence, France over a year and left for the United States in late 1977.  I stayed one year in Venice, California and then spent the next chunk of my life in the San Fernando Valley.  My family moved around "the Valley" including to Sepulveda, Pacoima, Northridge, and North Hills. 

I went to Pomona College, Claremont for my undergraduate study where I wrote a senior thesis on Little Saigon.  After that, I worked for about a year and a half, at the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Inc. (AADAP).  I then went back to graduate school at UCLA to obtain a doctoral degree in Sociology.  My areas of interest are in the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality and ability.  I filed my dissertation, "Becoming Queer and Vietnamese American: Negotiating Multiple Identities in an Ethnic Support Group of Lesbians, Bisexual Women and Female-to-Male Transgenders," in January 2001 and received my Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA.

This is my 18th year at CSUN, where I was hired as a Southeast Asian Specialist but I also do research and teach on gender and sexuality. I am a tenured Full Professor.

From Spring 2004 to Fall 2006, I served as the Asian American Studies Academic Advisement Coordinator. I was also on the Queer Studies Minor Advisory Board. I was interim Chair of AAS in 2007 and now return as a Chair for a second term that began in Fall 2012 and will end in Summer 2018.

My current research interest is on Vietnamese entrepreneurship. I will be exploring Little Saigon and compare it to the communities in Canada. My personal interest is on healing at the personal and collective levels. I have been exploring Vietnamese Zen Buddhism as taught by Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. Particularly the mindfulness trainings as a way for me and my community to heal from the different forms of violence and oppression. I attended a mindfulness retreat for educators at Brock University, Canada. The theme was "Happy teachers will change the world." I am trying to practice this as chair of my department. :-)

Favorite Quotes

Sometime in graduate school, I started writing down little sayings that I like. Here is a listing of some of the ones that I like. The longer ones are in the middle. The shorter ones are on the right. For the longer quotes, there are 2 sections:

Once a blue moon, when I have a chance, I will update this page. Also, If you know of other cool quotes, please let me know so I can add them here. Just added a quote by Arundhati Roy, one of my favorite activists.

Thanks! GM 09-29-09


If you let go a little, you'll have a little peace. 
If you let go a lot, you'll have a lot of peace. 
If you let go completely, you'll have complete peace.
--Ajahn Chah


"The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget." - Arundhati Roy


Comes The Dawn
After awhile you learn the subtle difference. 
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul. 
And you learn that love doesn't mean security 
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises, 
And you begin to accept your defeats 
With your head up and your eyes open, 
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child, 
And learn to build all your roads 
On today because tomorrow's ground 
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have 
A way of faling down in mid-flight. 
After awhile you learn that even sunshine 
Burns if you get too much. 
So you plant your own garden and decorate 
Your own soul, instead of waiting 
For someone to bring you flowers. 
And you learn that you really can endure... 
That you are really strong 
And you really do have worth. 
An you learn and learn... 
With every goodbye you learn. 
-- Veronica A. Shoftstall, 1971 --


Expect the worst. 
You will slide an incredible distance 
before you stop. 
Much may be damaged. 
Small bones break easily 
and heal untrue. 
Anticipate corners and snaking way. Brake. 
It is the force, the physics, of such shapes 
that do not allow guessing, heroics, 
or turning back. 
Do no rely upon landmarks. Surely 
they will vanish in the ferocity of what 
may occur. 
Whatever happens, do not panic. 
If you do not arrive, 
keep your hands in your pockets, the tips 
of your ears covered, 
your heart bundled. 
Do not sleep. 
Do not allow yourself to be buried 
in the howling 
of what might have been. 
-- Sharon M. Van Sluys.


To live content with small means; 
to seek elegance rather than luxury, 
and refinement rather than fashion; 
to be worthy; not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; 
to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; 
to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; 
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, 
hurry never. 
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, 
grow up through the common. This is to be my 
-- William H. Channing


What happens to a dream deferred? 
Does it dry up 
like a raisin in the sun? 
Or does it fester like a sore -- 
And then run? 
Does it stink like rotten meat 
Or crust and sugar over -- 
Like a syrupy sweet? 
Maybe it just sags 
Like a heavy load? 
Or does it explode? 
-- Langston Hughes, Harlem.


My wish is to ride the tempest,  
tame the waves,  
kill the sharks.  
I want to drive the enemy away 
to save our people.  
I will not resign myself to the usual lot of women 
who bow their heads and become concubines.
Trieu Thi Trinh, 248 A.D.


“In Germany the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the homosexuals, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a homosexual. Then they came for the Catholics, but I did not speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.” -- Modified from Martin Niemoeller, Lutheran pastor arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau concentration camp in 1938; the Allied forces freed him seven years later.

As dawn broke, an old man was walking down the beach and spotted a young man flinging starfish into the sea. The old man asked the youth why he was doing that. The answer was that they'd die if left to the sun. "But the beach goes for miles and there are millions of them," the old man countered. "What difference is it going to make?" The young man looked at the starfish and said, as he threw it to safety, "It makes a difference to this one."  -- The Famous Starfish Story - anonymous

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters...Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."- Frederick Douglas

"I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world."- Howard Zinn



Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference. 
-- Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.

I never saw a Moor -- 
I never saw the Sea -- 
Yet know I how the Heather looks 
And what a Billow be. 
-- Emily Dickinson.


One is truth. A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before [her] I may think aloud. . . The essence of friendship is entireness, a total magnanimity and trust. It must not surmise or provide for infirmity. It treats its object as a god, that it may deify both. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friendship.

Come, I will make the continent indissoluble; 
I will make the most splendid race the Sun ever yet shone upon; 
I will make divine magnetic lands, 
With love of comrades 
With the life-long love of comrades... 
-- Walt Whitman, A Song.

I DREAM'D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of 
the whole of the rest of the earth; 
I dream'd that was the new City of Friends; 
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love -- it led 
the rest; 
-- Walt Whitman, I Dream'd In A Dream. 


What piece of work is a man, 
how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties 
in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, 
how like angel in apprehension, how like a 
god! the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals; 
and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust? 
-- Shakespeare, Hamlet IIii 303.


She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word,
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. 
-- Shakespeare, Macbeth, Vv 23.


To consider them behind, is glory, 
To consider them before, is humility. 
To fall on the sudden, is disposition to weep. 
To see another fall, is disposition to laugh. 
Continually to be out-gone, is misery. 
Continually to out-go the next before, is felicity. 
And forsake the course, is to die. 
-- Hobbes, Leviathan.


It Went By Me 
something very beautiful 
just went by me 
something not to tell 
in words in feelings 
so fragile so wild 
something yet to tell 
is no longer 
why and when it left 
i can't tell. 
by Trinh T. Minh-Ha


The world would be a disappointment once we kill our mystic side. There'd be nothing else to wonder about if the secret of the universe is all there is to know. What motivates and inspires us all is grasping the unreachable. If by a cosmic accident we learned the universal secret, then like Adam & Eve, we would be damned forever with such knowledge.


To be, or not to be, that is the question: 
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
The slings of outrageous fortune, 
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep-- 
No more, and by a sleep to say we end 
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks 
That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation 
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep-- 
To sleep perchance to dream--ay, there's the rub, 
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, 
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 
Must give us pause, there's the respect 
That makes calamity of so long life: 
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, 
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, 
The pangs of depis'd love, the law's delay, 
The insolence of office, and the spurns 
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes, 
When he himself might his quietus make 
With a bare bodkin; who would this fardels bear, 
To grunt and sweat under a weary life, 
But that the dread of something after death, 
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn 
No traveller returns, puzzles the will, 
And makes us rather bear those ills we have, 
Than fly to others we know not of? 
Thus conscience does make cowards (of us all) 
And thus the native hue of resolution 
Is sicklied o'ver with the pale cast of thought, 
An enterprises of great pitch and moment 
With this regard their currents turn awry, 
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now, 
The fair Ophelia. Nymph, in thy orisons 
Be all my sins rememb'red. 
-- Shakespeare, Hamlet IIIi 55

I lived in the first century of world wars. 
Most mornings I would be more or less insane. 
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories, 
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen. 
I would call my friends on other devices; 
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons. 
Slowly I would get to pen and paper, 
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn. 
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women, 
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances, 
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values. 
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened, 
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other, 
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other, 
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves, 
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.
-- Muriel Rukeyser

Shorter Favorite Quotes

This section has 3 parts: 

On Practical Living

  • Live simply so others could just simply live! -- Mahatma Gandhi
  • When you can, help others; when you cannot, refrain from hurting others. Dalai Lama on essence of Buddhism.
  • Expect whatever may come-- Venerable Mahinda Wetara, May 2008
  • Rest in reason, move in passion. -- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
  • Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. -- Venerable Thích Nhất Hạnh
  • If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. -- Mao Tse-Tung, On Practice.
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi
  • Philosophy studies the world, but the point is to change it. -- Karl Marx
  • It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.-- Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama), 1999
  • True emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in the courts. It begins in woman's soul. -- Emma Goldman.
  • Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed. -- Emily Dickinson.
  • And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more. -- Erica Jong.
  • Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a poor dinner. -- Francis Bacon.
  • Only those people whom we know and who create problems for us really provide us with a good opportunity to practice tolerance and patience. --The Dalai Lama.
  • Each of you should feel that you have great potential and that, with self-confidence and a little more effort, change really is possible if you want it...See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort. --The Dalai Lama.
  • When I dare to be powerful -- to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. -- Audre Lorde.
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. -- Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963.
  • "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people." Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963).
  • A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. --William Shakespeare.
  • Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead.
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions. When you find yourself on a hellish road, don't take directions from well-meaning people who don't know what they are doing. Afterall, they are on the road to hell with you.
  • Don't get involve in other people's dramas. Avoid the temptation of the messiah-complex. Some people are emotional vampires and will suck you dry. Wake up! You are not Jesus, nor Buddha!

On Existence & Metaphysics

  • Body impermanent like spring mist; mind insubstantial like empty sky; thoughts unestablished like breezes in space. -- Godprakpa.
  • The unexamined life is not worth living. -- Socrates.
  • Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. -- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene.
  • You cannot step into the same river twice. -- Heraclitus.
  • The physicist is the atom's way of knowing about atoms. -- George Wald.
  • A hen is only the egg's way of making another egg. -- Samuel Butler.
  • Nothing exists without a cause, the original cause of this universe we call God. -- David Hume, "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion", 1779.
  • If God doesn't exist, then God must be invented. -- W. Paley, Natural Theology, 1802.
  • Religion is the opiate of the mass. -- Karl Marx.
  • O the joy of my spirit -- it is uncaged -- it darts like lightning! -- Walt Whitman.
  • We all need a place that is safe and wholesome enough for us to return for refuge. In Buddhism, that refuge is mindfulness. -- Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • I required of myself a purity of motive so self-sacrificing, a vision of love so redeeming that to be a lover was an annihilation of all the healthy instincts of self-preservation I had.
  • Human relationships are the tragic necessity of human life; that they can never be wholly satisfactory, that every ego is half the time greedily seeking them, and half the time pulling away from them. -- Willa Cather.


  • The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. - William Arthur Ward
  • Curiosity is a measure of ignorance.
  • Self-reflection is needed because it's too easy to become too comfortable and to forget about the suffering.
  • The difference between lovers and friends is not sex but desire!
  • All failed lovers rewrite the script, as if one sexual detail or another might have tipped the balance of pain into destiny, either tragic or miraculous. 
  • History record the names of royal bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. - Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915)
  • It's not my revolution if I can't dance to it. - Emma Goldman.