The 13th Annual Philadelphia Transhealth Conference took place this week, and NQAPIA was on hand along with 3,000 of our closest friends in trans and gender non-conforming communities from around the country. NQAPIA led a workshop on “Creating Multilingual Resources for Parents of Transgender AAPIs” and brought together an informal meet-up of our friends and family to share a meal and share information about local and national work.
Many of our friends and allies provided great programming throughout the conference. We has a total #nerdcrush at the opening keynote for Janet Mock as she talked about her upbringing in Hawai`i, the current conversations about transgender women of color, and what it means for all of us. The Friday keynote featured our friend Harper Jean Tobin from the National Center for Transgender Equality about her work on a wide array of issues of concern to transgender communities, including NCTE’s work on immigration and immigration detention centers, with which NQAPIA has been a proud partner.
This week, NQAPIA also welcomed our summer 2014 intern. Rothana Oun comes to us from Georgia State University via the internship program at OCA: Asian Pacific American Advocates. His own journey to Washington, DC has been an interesting one, and throughout the course of the summer, he will be sharing highlights with us all. Below is his first installment:
My name is Rothana Oun. I am a first-generation college senior at Georgia State University in Atlanta,GA, studying Creative Writing, Asian Studies, and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. I am second-generation Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA). Of Cambodian/Chinese/Thai descent, which means, to make use of the retronymic slash, I do/am Asian. I do/am many things in addition to a myriad of identities and performativities of which I am proud to partake in. That is to say, I not only do/am Asian, I do/am Queer as well.
This summer, I am interning with NQAPIA (The National Queer Asian Pacific Alliance) through OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates in Washington DC. An Atlanta native more acquainted with grass-roots community organizing, advocacy, and activisms on a state and local level, I have traveled from the South to D.C. to learn more about politics on the federal level, API (Asian Pacific Islander) and Queer politics in particular, and about the processes of policy and legislation in the so-called political heart of the nation.
Today, in fact, marks the end of the first week of my internship. And I’ve done so much it seems already. But I can’t wait to do and experience more.
On my first day at work, for example, I did my first spreadsheet ever on Excel, which I have to admit was kinda cool in a “not so sexy way” experience to have working in a formal office-environment. Even more excitingly, I attended an ice-cream social on my first day, and after work, my boss took me out to meet up with some of his friends/colleagues from the Queer Southeast Asian Network who happened to be in town for a conference. This event marked the first time in my life that I had ever come face-to-face with fellow Southeast Asians—who not only openly identified as Queer, but who were also involved in progressive and/or radical politics.
Back home in Atlanta, whenever I attend a local demonstration, protest, rally, or participate in radical/progressive spaces, I find that I am often the only Southeast Asian, and most times than not, the only API present in such contexts. So meeting these Queer Southeast Asian activists was exhilarating and honestly one of the best things that I have ever experienced. Most, if not all of the cool peeps that I met that night are now my friends on Facebook, which means of course, that our connections are now pretty legit lol.
Cheers! To networking, to building family aways-aways from home.
Until next time, yours truly,