Happy New Year!

NQAPIA wishes love, joy, health, and prosperity to all our family and friends who are celebrating the Year of the Horse today.  NQAPIA board, staff, and partners are in Houston at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference. As part of the AAPI Planning Institute, NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman and Alice Y. Hom from AAPIP’s Queer Justice Fund gave Lunar New Year greetings to the 4,000 attendees to the conference.

Ben de Guzman and AAPI Institute Planning Committee giving Lunar New Year greetings at Creating Change 2014

Ben de Guzman and AAPI Institute Planning Committee giving Lunar New Year greetings at Creating Change 2014

 

The video for their presentation is online here: http://www.livestream.com/thetaskforce/video?clipId=pla_491115de-b2f8-4d7c-ab75-2c4a2d4c0b9b&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb (the presentation starts at the 10:20 mark in the video)

The text of their comments is below.

Ben de Guzman:

On January 31, billions of people around the world will celebrate Lunar New Year and welcome the year of the Horse.  On behalf of the AAPI Institute Planning Committee we’re heppy to bring you greetings and jointly welcome the New Year together with you, our Creating Change family.

Lunar New Year is celebrated by billions of people around the world whose families trace their roots to places like China, Vietnam, and Korea. Here at our AAPI Institute, some of the fiercest East Asian  and Southeast Asian queer activists and leaders in our community came to share wisdom and learn with South Asian and Pacific Islander folks as well. For everyone who is here celebrating Lunar New Year we give you specific AAPI Creating Change love.

But we also know that even more of our communities are NOT with us this weekend. Even more fierce voices from our communities are not able to be here because they’ve made the choice to be with their biological families, their cultural families with whom they learned to celebrate Lunar New Year, They’re not here because they’ve made the choice to be with their movement families that are doing the hard, but important work this weekend to build visibility of queer people in AAPI communities that are celebrating Lunar New Year this weekend.  Our Open Letter talks about this and we invite you to read it in your Program book.

Two stories that have been happening this weekend that we’re particularly proud of. In Westminster, CA, Vietnamese Rainbow Orange County are leading a queer contingent in their Tet Parade in the largest Vietnamese community in the United States after waging a years long battle to be included. On the other side of the country, a Lunar New Year for All queer contingent will march in one of the country’s oldest Chinatown New Year’s parades.

The work they’ve done to engage straight families and communities in a linguistically competent and culturally resonant way is cutting edge because NOBODY ELSE IS DOING IT. They embody the goals of inclusion and multicultural outreach to people of color and immigrants that we as a movement are talking about here this weekend and we couldn’t be more proud of them.

One final story we wanted to share with you tonight is here with us and I wanted to bring her up to share her thoughts about what it means to be here at Creating Change this weekend.  I’m proud to call her a colleague, a co-conspirator, and most importantly, my movement spouse.  Alice Hom

Alice:

Hello Houston!

Thanks, Ben. I’m the youngest daughter, gender nonconforming daughter, in my Chinese immigrant family and I made a difficult decision to be at Creating Change this year. My mom is 86 years young and while she is still in good health, I’m consistently aware that she is aging and that I may not have many more lunar new year celebrations with her.

Early this month, my mom talked about our lunar new year dinner that takes place on the eve of the holiday and would have been tonight. When I told her that I wouldn’t be in Los Angeles because of a conference, she didn’t miss a beat. Like many immigrant parents, she rolled with it. So we celebrated our lunar new year early with dinner last Sunday.

But still, it’s a bit bittersweet moment that my family willingly accommodated this choice when there shouldn’t have to be choice in the first place. I’d rather not have to choose between being Asian or being queer. I’m privileged that I can be all of my identities at the same time and that I am accepted and a welcomed member of the many communities that I’m a part of. I run the Queer Justice Fund for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and AAPIP works with AAPI LGBTQ organizations to address the culture of homophobia in ethnic communities and the culture of racism in LGBTQ communities.  I do this work with those who attended the 4th Queer API Institute today and with many of you as allies and partners at Creating Change.

So while I can’t be with my family of origin tonight, I am grateful to have the opportunity to be with my chosen family of lgbtq folks who will take the time to think about the structural barriers that keep others from being here. Thank you and may the Year of the Horse bring you much love, peace, rainbows, glitter, unicorns, and a trouble making spirit to make our world a better place for all of us.