Interview with Chapter Secretary Ming Wong

Give us a thumbnail of your personal history up to this point.

One of the defining themes of my life, and perhaps that of my whole family, is migration. I was born in Malaysia, moved briefly to the UK as a baby, then back to Malaysia, then to Singapore, to the UK again, and finally to the U.S. for college, then stayed here to find meaningful work, safety, and community.

What political issues are you most passionate about and why?

I’ve been involved in LGBT or queer politics in some form or another since I was sixteen. The work done by LGBT and queer activists, artists, and thinkers that came before me probably saved my life. I still think that we face pressure from a patriarchal and oppressive society to disappear completely, whether that means to stay in or go back in the closet, having violence visited on us by others or to inflict violence on ourselves (up to and including suicide), self-medicate in unaccountable, dangerous, and harmful ways, and being forced to assimilate in ways that are life-denying or destroying. Part of what queer politics means to me is a radical valuing of every person, and the transformation of society so that there are no disposable or undesirable people.

Where did you attend law school and what was that experience like for you?

I attended UC Hastings. I enjoyed getting to know a lot of the students and staff there, but the overall structure of law school struck me as overly hierarchical, competitive and obsessed with somewhat abstract, to me, concepts of academic rigor and legitimacy at the expense of creativity and care for students’ well-being and learning.

Tell us about the work you do at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. What part of that work do you find most gratifying?

I manage our legal helpline and intern program at NCLR. What I find most gratifying about the work is when I can provide enough perspective and information to a person calling us with a problem that they are able to know that their problem matters, see it in a context of social and legal discrimination, and figure out how to continue working and struggling, whether to solve their individual problem, or to join with others to address shared problems.

What do you hope to accomplish on the NLGSF executive board?

I would like the San Francisco chapter of the NLG to become more of, and be seen as a resource for, queer people of color in the Bay Area. Right now we do a lot of work that is relevant and useful to QPOCs (for example through the work done each year by the Thomas Steel intern, and the demonstrations committee’s work with transgender people and undocumented people facing arrest), but could do more and perhaps have more people know about that work.

What political work do you think the NLG should be focused on right now and why?

I think the NLG should be doing work and taking stands against racism and U.S. imperialism. Domestically, this includes strongly opposing all forms of discrimination against people who are and are perceived to be Muslim or from the Middle East, as well as opposing militarization of the country as a whole, but especially communities of color (both through recruiting people of color as participants in the military, and by the militarization of how the schools and streets of communities of color are policed).

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for asking me to be interviewed! It is a real privilege to get to serve on the board and work with Guild members. The legal profession can be a rough place! It’s great to find so many others who work in the law who are passionate about and have a similar vision of what justice means.