Queer Asian chef giving virtual cooking class attacked in horrifically racist and homophobic ‘Zoombombing’

J Chong zoombombing

An LGBT+ activist and chef was attacked with an anti-Asian, racist, homophobic “Zoombombing” while simply trying to give a cooking class for her community.

J Chong is a sous chef at a North Carolina restaurant, and she also sits on the board of directors at LGBT+ rights organisation Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE).

CSE has been running a series of community webinars via Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic, and Chong was keen to get involved with some simple, accessible cooking classes for people in self-isolation.

She wrote on Instagram: “Before the call, I was advised that there may be some Zoombombers that may interrupt my class. Cool, I thought. No biggie, if it happens then we will work through it.”

“Zoombombing,” joining a Zoom meeting uninvited as a form of trolling, is a fast-growing trend during the coronavirus crisis as many people turn to video calls while social distancing.

Chong continued: “Thirty minutes or so into my spinach pesto making virtual class, my laptop screen became flooded with newcomers joining the class. At first I was excited! I was proud that more people were interested in watching my class.”

But the newcomers soon began hurling homophobic and racist, anti-Asian slurs.

She said: “Then all of a sudden, we hear vicious slurs come over the speakers – ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’, ‘lesbian’… ‘You f**king c***k! You c***k, the coronavirus is happening because of you!’

“I froze for what felt like 10 minutes but it may have only been 30 seconds. Thank goodness the communications director of CSE was present to help navigate and put a block up for the call.”

J Chong said her wife, who was filming the class, had a “facial expression of fear and anger” and that her best friend, who was in the Zoom meeting, was “frozen in shock and in disbelief”.

She said: “I am a queer Asian, and those words I’ve heard all my life.

“The words that were projected at me did not affect me as much as seeing the pure shock and pain that I saw on my wife and best friend’s face.

“It’s one thing to read about racial and xenophobic attacks. However, when you actually hear such hate projected at someone you care about, the sheer weight and impact of it changes. It hits a little deeper.”

She said she was sharing the story of the Zoombombing publicly to show people that “Asian Americans are being attacked when the world is suffering”.

“So, when people ask me if it’s a big deal that the president of the United States calls COVID-19 the ‘Chinese virus’, yes, it’s a big f**king deal when our Asian community is being attacked for just being human,” Chong said.

“If you hear hate or are around those who continue to project hate, be the one to call them out, think about your community, family members, loved ones… The world needs it right now. We are all in this together.”