Male pageant questions Asian stereotypes


Fellow contestants David Huynh, Brandon Nguyen, Thomas “Titan” Nguyen, Peter Vu and Kiet Phung hold up the winner of Loyola’s Asian Student Organization’s Mr. Bun Bo Bae pageant, Danny Vo on March 16, 2019. Photo credit: Shamaria Bell

Shamaria Bell

Through a night of pick-up lines and pageantry, Loyola, Louisiana State University and Xavier University students infused comedy with a discussion of Asian male stereotypes and expectations.

The Loyola Asian Student Organization partnered with students from LSU and Xavier to host a comedic male pageant titled Bun Bo Bae which focused on aspects of Asian masculinity that are not shown in mainstream media.

Contestants from Vietnamese Student Unions throughout the state participated in three rounds of challenges: a pick-up line competition, a first-date fashion show with a quiz and a Q&A consisting of both comedic and serious questions.

The idea for the event idea came from Angela Tran, the organization’s social chairperson. Tri-An Tran-Nguyen, vice president of the Loyola Asian Student Organization, explained that the event’s name was inspired by Tran’s favorite Vietnamese food, a traditional noodle soup dish called Bún bò Huếe.

“We Vietnamese-Americans can’t resist a good play on words,” Tran-Nguyen joked. “Valentine’s Day had just passed when we were deciding on the name, and it clicked. ‘Come find your bae at Bun Bo Bae,’ we thought. Now, it was only a matter of time.”

The Q&A portion asked contestants about everything from their favorite memes to the portrayal of Asian masculinity in media and assimilation into American culture as Vietnamese-Americans.

“I especially wanted for people to walk away from our pageant, not just feeling entertained, but also being informed about some of the struggles and stereotypes that Asian-Americans face that aren’t talked about enough, if at all, in the media and today’s social climate as a whole,” Tran-Nguyen stated.

Participants and attendees chatted with each other in the seats and laughed over kettle corn and iced tea as judges Matthew Nguyen, Sandra Nguyen, Jacquie Thanh and Khoa Vu tallied up their final scores. Ultimately, LSU student Danny Vo won the pageant and his fellow contestants celebrated by lifting him in a cheer.

“I was surprised, to be honest. All the other contestants were pretty solid. It feels nice.” Vo responded with a smile. “It was fun. I felt super comfortable because I knew them through VSU so I was fine”.

Taylor Standberry, freshmen psychology major, attended the event to support her friends who coordinated the event.

“You don’t see many male pageants,” Standberry said. “The message brings recognition to a lack of representation in the media for Asian men. The industry is making progress with movies like ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ but we have a long way to go.”