Grace Lau’s “Yuhua Hamasaki” arrives at just the right moment—with power, with vitality, with dragulous charm. The poem crunches your expectations of womanhood, of Chinese womanhood, and invites you to a feast of new realities.



when a Chinese drag queen
sashays into the Drag Race workroom
our ancestors clutch their jade pendants but
no one says anything because
our men have been painting their faces and
singing in soprano since
the Six Dynasties


when my grandma performed
in 粵劇​
she swung a sword as man
wept as woman
sang as both
Shakespeare isn’t the only
dragulous form of theatre


Chinese girls are good
Chinese girls are submissive
Chinese girls will do your taxes
and fill your prescriptions
because survival doesn’t always
look like
a war


Chinese girls won’t spill the tea
tea is for serving your elders
and the dim sum table is no place for incompetence


yuhua / 玉花 / jade flower
Yuhua / ​余華 / ​just another man’s name
even our mother-
tongue is a drag queen


yes, a Chinese queen calling herself Hamasaki
is strange
but it’s no stranger
than Chinese characters in a Japanese alphabet
kanji / hanzi​
it’s no stranger than how we take
the names of those who bruise us
husbands / fathers / Nanjing
it’s no stranger than men saying
to me almost everywhere I go


the day RuPaul told the first Chinese drag queen
in ten seasons of Drag Race
to sashay away
the sky contracted, blushed
black and white
a small, ​familiar ache
for the Chinese girls who are not good, not submissive
who aren’t ashamed to be hungry
for love

my brother-sister, drag-
on queen
this feast is
for us


粵劇: Chinese opera
​kanji/hanzi: Chinese characters used in Japanese writing


Grace Lau

Grace is a queer Chinese-Canadian writer living on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations territory in Vancouver, BC. By day, she works as a copywriter in advertising and tech. Her work has been published in magazines such as TRACK//FOUR, Yes Poetry, and Arc. When she’s not writing, she enjoys itinerary-less travel, live music, and loud socks.

Close Menu