Grieving For Our Loss and Celebrating the Legacy of Alain Dang

Caption: Alain and other members of the NQAPIA family at the 2011 Community Catalyst Awards (from L-R: Glenn Magpantay, Alain Dang, Ben de Guzman, Sarath Suong, Kohei Ishihara, Sin Yen Ling, Chris Punongbayan)

 

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) family suffered a tragic loss on Tuesday, February 5, when Alain Dang passed away. Alain’s leadership and nationally respected network was instrumental in the early conversations that helped bring together the LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations from around the country for our initial convening in 2005. Indeed, he was part of NQAPIA before there was an NQAPIA.

As an undergraduate at UC Irvine and during his graduate studies at UCLA, Alain cut his political teeth doing organizing as part of the United States Student Association. Moving to New York, he became involved in the queer AAPI scene and joined the Steering Committee of Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York. With GAPIMNY, he joined leaders from AAPI LGBT organizations around the country for a convening at the 2005 Creating Change conference that formed what would become NQAPIA. He joined our first duly constituted Board and served until 2011. He continued to be involved in the community through his leadership in Asian Pacific Islander Equality- Northern California and in local politics when he moved back to Cupertino, CA.

Alain’s commitment to social justice was long-standing, but his legacy to the AAPI LGBT community and our movement is indelible. As part of NQAPIA’s initial Board, he will remain a part of our “origin story” and the work we do bears his thumb print. His other lasting legacy to the community is his body of work during his time at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Along with current NQAPIA Co-Chair Mandy Hu, the two co-authored an initial study of AAPI LGBT people and their experiences with discrimination. With Vaid Fellow Cabrini Vianney, he went on to publish a larger study, which remains one of, if not the benchmark analysis of the AAPI LGBT community and its strengths and challenges. “Living in the Margins: A National Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans” surveyed almost 900 respondents and was cutting edge in its commitment to capturing the diversity of the community by its distribution in Chinese, Hindi, Korean, and Vietnamese, as well as in English. NQAPIA supported the study by partnering with the Task Force in mobilizing our membership to build the base of respondents. Multilingual regional fact sheets and an executive summary accompanied the report, which put hard numbers to the priorities of the AAPI LGBT community and documented pervasive rates of discrimination and harassment. To this day, the study continues to be the baseline on which our understanding of the community and the work we do in service and advocacy, is based.

NQAPIA’s leadership issued the following statement:

“Alain is remembered as an example of what an activist should be: smart in his analysis, fierce in his convictions, gentle in spirit, and fun and sassy while dancing in the movement. He will be forever a part of NQAPIA’s DNA through his work and his service. The AAPI LGBT community will continue to benefit from his life and work, and we are all the better for knowing him. We send our love and condolences to his family, and recommit ourselves to the values we shared and worked for together with him.”

– Joy Messinger, NQAPIA Board Co-Chair, Mandy Hu, NQAPIA Board Co-Chair, Glenn Magpantay, NQAPIA Co-Director for Development and Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs

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Caption: (from L-R) Alain Dang, Ben de Guzman, and Doreena Wong at the 2007 Launch of “Living in the Margins”

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Caption: Alain Dang at the 2008 NQAPIA Leadership Training and Issue Briefing