Subtle Asian Traits spinoff creates safe space for queer Asians

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By Benson Kua via Wikimedia Creative Commons

By Janelle Kono, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Among the many spinoffs of the massively popular Facebook group, Subtle Asian Traits, is a safe and supportive group called Subtle Queer Asian Traits or SQuAT. Since its formation in 2019, SQuAT has amassed over 15.5K members and continues to grow. Group administrator Samuel Aw remembers the group starting as simply a way to share Queer Asian centric content. From there, Aw continued, it “very quickly evolved to a whole community of Queer Asians from around the world sharing their experiences and relating to one another.”

This constantly growing group is guided by three administrators who represent three different countries: Samuel Aw is in Australia, Anthony Yang is from the United States, and Anushka Anna is in the United Kingdom. Aw states the purpose of the group as “continue being the bridge for Queer Asians to connect and learn from each other.” As is evident in the make-up of this small sample size of the administrators, the group itself has members from all over the world.

Much like Subtle Asian Traits, SQuAT has individuals from western countries like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, but it also has members from Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Barkada. Anna adds, “we seek to bridge the gaps between the Asian diaspora – to let other Queer Asians out there know that they are not alone.” “We are about increasing the visibility of all demographics of SQuAT,” Yang asserts, “Not just the experiences of queer Asian Americans but also our counterparts in Canada, Australia, and even Asia. It allows us to retain perspective and to build solidarity with more people so we can fight for equitable standing with a cis-heteronormative society.” 

By Saileshpat via Wikimedia Creative Commons

As expected, a large majority of the content shared on SQuAT is memes, music videos, and articles. News like the initial passing of the Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand, or the continued ban on homosexual marriage in Japan is shared, allowing members to celebrate or lament together. Virtual and in-person events are posted for other members to attend. A variety of group chats are available for members to join which are based on location or interests like dancing or pokemon.

SQuAT is also a place where members can share their personal experiences. Posts ask questions like “When did you realize you were queer?” or “Are any of you from countries where homosexuality is still illegal? How do you celebrate pride in your country?” These conversations allow members to reflect together and offer support. One member shared their recent diagnosis of HPV and immediately received a wave of encouragement and support from the other members.

As Pride month comes to a close, it is important to recognize the fight of queer Asian communities does not end. This group is a way for individuals all over the world to have a place to exist and be understood. Yang states, “We are slowly gaining visibility as not just LGBTQ or just Asian, but as LGBTQ Asians. It definitely is, in a way, reliving our teen years because the ability to live as a teenager but as our true selves was denied to us when we were actually teenagers.”

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