May Day and What’s at Stake for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month for the LGBT Community

The beginning of May is meaningful for millions of people in the United States and countless more people around the world for the celebration of May Day and its recognition of international workers, as well as for the kickoff of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. For the LGBT community, this is an opportunity not only to stand in solidarity with immigrant workers and the AAPI community, but to lift up those voices in our community and to recognize the scope of diversity in our rainbow. Current events and the political climate we’re now in not only provide a unique backdrop to think about this diversity, but underscore the urgency to make sure we continue to fight for as broad a vision of social justice as possible.

NQAPIA is proud to kick off May and AAPI Heritage Month with our local partners around the country and with our allies in both the AAPI and LGBT movements. It is an opportunity for us to expand beyond stereotypes and bring our complete selves to the collective narrative of the AAPI community. President Obama’s intent to appoint fourteen new Commissioners to the White House Advisory Commission on AAPIs, including openly LGBT Michael Byun from ASIA Ohio, and actor Maulik Pancholy is evidence of the heights our community has reached, as well as other luminaries such as Helen Zia, Urvashi Vaid, George Takei, and Margaret Cho who have achieved greatness in many other areas of public life. Progress is not just measured at the top though, and we are just as proud of the unheralded but just as critical moments that happen every day as brave LGBT AAPIs change hearts and minds in their families and all of our communities.

The actions that are happening around May Day focusing on immigrants’ rights and international workers are very real reminders of why LGBT and straight alike, we all need to fight for immigrants’ rights This movement has always included LGBT people, but in recent years, brave people like Jose Antonio Vargas, Bupen Ram, Erika Nunez, and others highlighted in our “Uncovering Our Stories” campaign have made the connection between coming out of the closet and coming out of the shadows and we are proud to lift up their journeys particularly this month. Here in Washington, DC, LGBT stalwarts like our friend Rea Carey from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force put their bodies on the line  leading up to this May Day calling on the Administration and the Congress to keep our families together and fix the broken immigration system.

The theme for AAPI Heritage Month this year is “I Am Beyond” and our work this month will continue to push beyond traditional perceptions of what the AAPI community is and how we build love and community there. We will continue to push beyond silos of identity politics and bring movements together to fight for legislative and administrative policies for immigrants and our families. We do these two things because we look to a future, beyond the here and now, where all our communities live free and just lives.