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Remembering Orlando for National Coming Out Day

Earlier this week was National Coming Out Day, and during the delay of this email, we took time to reflect on the months since the Orlando tragedy. To us, the Orlando tragedy underlines how important it is to be out of the closet and to support and celebrate individualism and diversity, especially for our kids and youth.

Whether during LGBT Pride Month, LGBT History/Herstory/Theirstory Month, or any month, let’s show unity and have the biggest LGBTQ parades and parties ever! We dedicate our celebrations to those we lost in Orlando and before, and we must show support for the Muslim communities that face backlash and prejudice—just as we have as a community.

Fawzia Mirza

“There are no words to describe the sadness I felt when I heard about the tragedy and loss of our LGBTQ, Latinx and human family in Orlando. But I know that since then, as a queer, Pakistani, Muslim woman, I will hug tighter, love louder and voice even louder.”
— Comedian Fawzia Mirza Hari Kondabalu

“Whatever they say about you, know that I love you.”
— Comedian/Writer Hari Kondabolu

Anita Lo

“In the face of the Orlando tragedy, we must continue to come together to show unity and to express solidarity with the Muslim communities that are facing elevated prejudice, just as we have as a group. Love indeed conquers hate, and our rainbow flag will always represent diversity.”
— Celebrity Chef Anita Lo

Resources

Not everyone feels safe in coming out, and we still hurt from the Orlando tragedy.

If you need resources in coming out to your API Parents, watch commercials of API parents who love their LGBTQ children created by the Asian Pride Project and read translated leaflets that answer basic questions about being LGBTQ and dispel common misperceptions.

View the resources we shared after the Orlando tragedy, including counseling and support options and statements by 28 organizations.

#WeAreOrlando

Regardless of where you are at in your coming out journey, we send you love and support for National Coming Out Day.

Showing Up in Solidarity #15YearsLater: Reflections from our Accomplices & Family

This past Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, over 60 people created mock checkpoints across Washington, D.C. and shut down the intersection of 14th St and U St NW for two hours. As queer and trans Muslims and South Asians, we demanded an end to the legalized profiling of our people, especially by Secretary Jeh Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security.

Our partners, accomplices, and political family showed up in solidarity. They recognized that our movements for freedom are deeply connected. They recognized themselves in our struggles, and showed up in deep solidarity for our collective liberation. Here, in their own words, they explain why they took part in our #15YearsLater action, and their vision for our shared liberation.

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#15YearsLater Black Muslim Lives Matter PC: Nate Atwell

Angela Peoples, GetEQUAL – PC: Nate Atwell

Angela Peoples, GetEQUAL:

We cannot commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001 without also addressing the devastating violence and harm that stemmed from racist profiling and criminalization of our communities, all in the name of “safety” and “national security.” LGBTQ people of color feel the impact of this culture of fear, Islamophobia and anti immigrant sentiment every day. We will continue to stand with our Asian American and Pacific Islander family to reject this violence and demand an end to all institutions and systems that criminalize our existence.

API Resistance:

Right now Muslim majority countries in West Asia are going through the series of exploitative, Orientalist wars that plagued East and Southeast Asia in the 20th century. When one quarter of Muslims in America are black or of African-descent and when the countries with the top four largest Muslim populations are in Southeast and South Asia we need to realize that we can no longer divide our identities by race or religion. We must forget the borders that have been imposed on our lands and on our bodies. We must stand up against injustice everywhere. We will not be free until each one of us is free.

Darakshan Raja, Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum:

This was one of few multiracial, people of color led actions that centered Islamophobia. At a moment when Muslim women, femmes, trans, queer and gender non-conforming folks are being specifically targeted, it is important to build solidarity. And we need to be real that we have so much more work to do.

photo credit IG @themauricio

Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT – PC: IG @themauricio

Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT):

It was important for SAALT to support this weekend’s action to go beyond words and help people get a snapshot of the kind of profiling and surveillance our communities have experienced in the last 15 years to illustrate the largely untold story of the victims of post 9/11 government policies. It was powerful to be on the streets to educate white people and also share common experiences with other people of color and people who identify as queer and transgender who experience this impact on a daily basis.

Maha Hilal, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms:

As we work towards ending the destructive policies of the post 9/11 era, we recognize the role of simultaneously empowering our communities to take action against these policies. We hope this will bring us one step closer to getting justice for ALL those who have been impacted by the policies of the War on Terror.

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We are part of movements larger than ourselves. We are part of fights for queer people of color liberation, Black liberation, immigrant rights, justice for Muslims, API liberation, and more. Only through movement building across our communities will we be able to achieve freedom for all our people.

The participants in #15YearsLater demonstrated that building such movements is not just necessary, but possible. We can – and we will – take the streets together, build political family, and have each others’ backs. We will achieve our liberation, together.

Thank you, again, to everyone who showed up for our collective liberation this Sunday. We will be in struggle with you, side by side, until we all get free.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ AAPI groups, develop leadership, invigorate grassroots organizing, and challenge queerphobia and racism.

NQAPIA Mourns Orlando Shooting Victims, Warns Against Islamophobic Rhetoric & Violence

NQAPIA MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release: Sunday, June 12, 2016
For More Information, Contact: Sasha W., 909-343-2219, sasha@nqapia.org

NQAPIA Mourns Orlando Shooting Victims, Warns Against Islamophobic Rhetoric

We are heartbroken. We send love to the countless people affected by the tragedy in Orlando.

At a time when we are proudly celebrating our LGBTQ identities and community, we woke this morning to the horrifying news that at least fifty queer and trans people, including many people of color, were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. This is just one in a very long line of tragedies involving gun violence in the U.S. These shootings cannot be the new normal, and we must demand our lawmakers enact commonsense measures to end the bloodshed.

As we mourn the lives that were lost and hold our loved ones tighter, we are also questioning yet again what safety means to us.

From the Stonewall riots to the HIV crisis to police brutality, queer people have long lived in terror in the U.S., largely at the hands of the state. And now, as many of us who are Muslim or South Asian—or perceived as such—brace for a backlash that is already underway, we recommit to creating safety outside of that state, for all of our LGBTQ family.

We urge our community and allies to refrain from rhetoric that lays responsibility on any one community. The acts of an individual are not representative of any one ethnicity, race, or faith. With Islamophobia in our country growing to greater and more dangerous levels, it is ever more important to be intentional about what narratives we choose to lift up. Furthering such rhetoric will only lead to more policies that normalize surveillance of and violence against APIs and other communities of color. NQAPIA advocates firmly against policies that profile and instill fear in our communities, and that tear families apart. Just last month, we held a #RedefineSecurity Week of Action to denounce such policies.

For those of us who are LGBTQ and Muslim, we wait to see which of our identities we will be more fearful of disclosing in a world that questions our existence and intentions daily. We have found no contradiction in being both queer and Muslim, and reject the popular narrative that Islam or the Muslim community as a whole is homophobic and transphobic. We are proud to be both queer and Muslim, and cherish both of our communities. We encourage you to read this statement from our member organization the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

In the next few weeks, we must resist the inevitable, racist attempts to divide and conquer us. We ask that our allies refuse to use this moment to undermine the safety of people of color. We ask that people come together in this difficult time to heal, and that we intentionally create systems and spaces where all members of our community feel secure, safe, and able to be their full selves.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a nationwide federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPI groups, develop leadership, and expand collaborations to better challenge homophobia and racism.

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Fact Sheet: Deportation

Stop the Deportation of Our Communities

For the last two decades, the federal government has been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration that prioritizes mandatory detention and deportation. The Obama administration is no exception: President Obama has deported more than 2 million individuals, and this number continues to rise. In November 2014, President Obama announced an Executive Order that expands relief beyond DACA to provide nearly 5 million people administrative relief from deportation. This expansion is being challenged in courts and therefore delayed in launch. Even with this relief, millions of families will be left out and still face separation and deportation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has intensified raids in immigrant communities, deporting thousands of community members, some of whom qualify for relief.

The impact on Southeast Asian refugee communities is often neglected in this massive deportation machine. In response to this, NQAPIA stands firm to elevate the grassroots work of our Southeast Asian partnersPrYSM, Freedom Inc, and SOYall part of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), as they launch an international human rights campaign to end US deportations to Cambodia. 2015 marks 40 years since Southeast Asian refugees were displaced by militarism and war and began resettlement in the US. Decades later, people are being deported back to countries they fled or have never stepped foot in.

Timeline

Timeline Chanravy Proeung, National Organizer of SEAFN, stated, “We have been rooted in an intergenerational struggle over the last five decades to keep our families together against unjust forces of US militarism, war, systemic poverty, education inequity, imprisonment, institutionalized racism, discrimination, and deportation. With over 500 Cambodian-American families broken apart since 2002, and over 4000 more awaiting the same fate, our human rights fight today, is deportation.” NQAPIA calls for an end to deportations under the Cambodian Repatriation Act and to all countries until the U.S. implements human and civil rights for all communities.

Resources

NQAPIA Info-graph:

www.nqapia.org/infographics-on-immigration-riseupnqapia/

deportation infographic

Uncovering Our Stories: Linda Khoy

“My parents are from Cambodia and fled to America to escape the genocide that took place in the 80s. They both legally arrived here with my older sister, who was barely one at the time. Lundy was born in a Thai refugee camp during the war. I came into their lives under a year later and my brother soon after. Aside from me being gay, I never knew that I was different from my parents or my sister. I knew they carried with them a card that read “Permanent Resident Alien,” and later we soon discovered that there is a huge difference between being a US citizen and a green card holder. We grew up in a very strict household and my parents did the best they could with raising Asian American children, keeping the Cambodian values while trying to adapt the American way. When Lundy was barely 19 years old, while she was in college and in her experimental phase like most college kids, she made a mistake by carrying a few ecstasy pills for her and her friends. Her honesty that our parents instilled in us changed the course of her future. She is 32 years old now, and due to the lack of judicial discretion that immigrations judges have, her mistake is considered an aggravated felony, which is an automatic ground for deportation if you are not a US citizen to a country she has never set foot in.” Read Linda and Lundy’s story.

Other Resources

Community Conversations

South Asians Demand Immigrant RightsWe want to concentrate our conversation on the deportation of Southeast Asian communities. The following are videos that are strong conversation starters, along with questions to guide your conversation.

Videos

One Love Movement Rally, 2011 Deported Diaspora, 2009 Providence Youth Student Movement, 2003

Questions

  1. Given the example of SEAFN in needing to understand the root causes of deportation in order to build grassroots movement against it… What do you believe are the root causes of deportation in your community?
  2. The criminalization of Southeast Asians in the U.S. pushed our communities into the deportation pipeline. What are other ways that people in your community get trapped into deportation proceedings?
  3. Deportation is part of a larger narrative of forced Southeast Asian migration, beginning with the onset of wars in Southeast Asia. How does militarism and imperialism affect the migration of your communities to the United States?
  4. SEAFN and the movement against Cambodian deportation was started by Southeast Asian queer folks and women. What role do you see queer and trans APIs play in the struggle for just immigration policies?

Sign the Petition to End Deportations Here!

Southeast Asian Freedom Network logo Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN) is a national collective of Southeast Asian grassroots groups working towards radical and transformational change led by those most impacted by systemic injustice.

 

Download the NQAPIA & SEAFN End Deportation Fact Sheet.

IDAHOT Lifts Up International LGBT Issues- NQAPIA Statement

  May 17 is recognized around the world as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Today, as advocates and our allies in countries across the globe continue their important work day-to-day addressing life-threatening issues of violence and discrimination against LGBT people, NQAPIA takes this opportunity to join the global chorus of voices calling for […]

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.

White House: Inside and Outside

This week, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBT people spent a lot of time engaging the White House on a range of issues. On Thursday April 24, the White House honored the most recent round of “Champions of Change,” recognizing AAPI advocates who worked to improve access to health care in our communities. NQAPIA was on hand as Bruce Thao, who is an Advisor for Shades of Yellow, was recognized as a Champion of Change for his work at Hmong National Development.

WHChamps 24April2014

caption: Shades of Yellow’s own Bruce Thao at the White House (second from the right)

 

Later that afternoon, the White House continued to recognize another set of individuals from the community as it named fourteen new members of the Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among the fourteen were openly LGBT people like Michael Byun from ASIA Ohio, one of the major direct service agencies for AAPIs in the Midwest, and the actor Maulik Pancholy. They will undoubtedly build on the work their predecessor Hector Vargas from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

On April 25, dozens of immigrants’ rights activists converged on the White House on the outside this time, calling on the President and the Department of Homeland Security to designate “temporary protected status” for Philippine nationals in the aftermath of Hurricane Haiyan.  The rally included people from the Relief 2 Recovery coalition, the #Not1More campaign, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman addressed the crowd on behalf of NCAPA, saying “We know that relief means relief for gay and straight alike!”

NQAPIA continues to work on immigration issues and will be bringing a number of local partners back to Washington, DC to continue to bring AAPI LGBT perspectives to bear with representatives from the White House in May as part of Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Keep an eye out for the latest we’ve got going on via our blog, on Facebook, or Twitter.

 

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.

NQAPIA and Roe v. Wade

This week marked the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court decision that made sure access to abortion services legal continues to be a key protection for women to make their own decisions about their health and their families. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance holds values such as autonomy, access to reproductive services and health care, and empowerment for people of all genders and is proud to stand in solidarity with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum in the fight for reproductive justice.

Many of the NQAPIA family have joined the NAPAWF #ImInThe78% campaign. We raise our voices, and our smart phones to proclaim our part in the 78% of Asian Americans who support some form of legal abortion.

From NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs Ben de Guzman’s selfie:

http://napawf.tumblr.com/post/73334795212/ben-de-guzman-from-nqapia-showing-us-some-love

Ben Selfie NAPAWF Tumblr

To NQAPIA Board Co-Chair Joy Messinger with the NAPAWF-Chicago sisters:

http://napawf.tumblr.com/post/73614167750

NAPAWF Chicago Selfie

 

To the number of NQAPIA friends, homies, and allies:

http://napawf.tumblr.com/post/74302986694

http://napawf.tumblr.com/post/74304004972/my-grandma-was-married-off-and-had-her-first

http://napawf.tumblr.com/post/74284259753/rep-mike-honda-is-in-the-78

 

Go to napawf.tumblr.com to see the real pics of ALL our friends taking part in the 78% and what you can do to join!