By Rhiannon Koh, AsAmNews Staff Writer
The Human Rights Campaign hosted its 1st-ever National AAPI & Proud summit titled “AAPI and LGBTQ+ Change Leaders: The Power of Intersectionality,” recently.
Of the 11.3 million LGBTQ+ adults who live in the US, 685k are AAPI adults, according to a study conducted by the 2021 UCLA School of Law Williams Institute. Compared to their non-LGBTQ counterparts, AAPI-LBTQ+ adults experience higher rates of depression and food/economic insecurity.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the event’s keynote speaker, spoke of her personal and political contributions to furthering LGBTQ+ rights. As the mother of a transgender child, Jayapal was the original co-sponsor of a resolution calling out the rise in anti-trans hate across the country, as well as a co-sponsor for another bill that would ban conversion therapy.
“I am fully aware every single day that trans folks of color are the tip of the sphere,” Jayapal said. “I am also aware that LGBTQ+ Asian Americans, especially immigrants must navigate unique obstacles like being frequently overlooked by researchers and lawmakers obscuring our experiences and leaving us with practically no data.”
She addressed the AAPI-LBGTQ+ community and urged them to lift their voices. She said, “I want you to know this: you are powerful. We are powerful. The API community is mobilizing and that’s why voter turnout among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had the largest increase of any other category in 2020, and we are only just getting started.”
The panel included the following: Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer; author, educator, and LGBTQ+ activist Marsha Aizumi who co-founded the first Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter for Asian-Pacific Islanders and also founded Okaeri, a west-coast based non-profit LGBTQ+ for Japanese Americans and allies; Assemblymember Evan Low, representing the 28th Assembly District of California; Jennifer Lu, one of HRC’s Global Innovators, Executive Director, Taiwan Equality Campaign, who played a leading role in achieving Marriage Equality in Taiwan; and concluded with a special performance by Telly Leung.
Last month’s summit also featured topics on growing visibility of AAPI in LGBTQ+ groups, cultural and social biases within AAPI communities, flexing political muscle, and creating and fostering effective allyship.
“I’m just a mother who loves her son,” Marsha Aizumi chimed in. “I was afraid that to be an activist or to be loud you had to picket, protest with signs, carry bullhorns, and that just really wasn’t me. But one day, I remember waking up and thinking, ‘If this world is gonna be safe for Aiden, I don’t wanna be stuck here. I wanna be sitting outside. I’m gonna be part of this.’ And to be honest, I didn’t know how to do it, but I just felt this commitment in my heart, and I wanted to do it.”
“I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll go and speak and I was scared, but I thought I’m gonna do it and every time I did it, I felt like I’m making the world safer for Aiden,” Aizumi said, explaining that anyone who cares can support in their own unique way.
If you are interested in supporting or learning about AAPI-LGBTQ+ communities, consider:
- The Asian American Psychological Association AAPI-LGBTQ+ Resources List
- GLSEN’s resources for and about LGBTQ+ students of color
- It Gets Better Project
- NQPIA & AAPI Parents Who Love Their LBGTQ+ Kids
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