Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Immigration Take Center Stage at LGBT Summit in Hawai’i

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) holds first LGBT Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander convening, focuses leadership training on both immigration reform and indigenous concerns for LGBT communities

For Immediate Release: Friday, August 2

Contact: Ben de Guzman

E-mail: ben_deguzman@nqapia.org

Phone: 202-422-4909

Honolulu, HI- The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) organized a weekend long summit in Hawaiʻi on July 25-28 for leaders of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. An unprecedented 130 participants joined the Summit from over 70 organizations in 6 cities in 19 states, and Washington, DC, and as far away as Guam and Saipan.  The summit included leadership training through sessions for professional development, briefings to dialogue on local and national issues affecting the AAPI LGBT communities, and discussions of NQAPIA’s organizational structure, initiatives, and coordination with affiliate groups.  The Summit was co-hosted by both the Center for Native Hawaiian Student Services as well as the LGBT Student Services Center at the University of Hawai’i- Manoa (UH- Manoa)

Among the highlights of the Summit included:

1)    Two pre-Summit convenings, including one for students in the UH system and what is believed to be the first ever meeting of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander LGBT leaders from both the mainland and the Pacific Rim;

2)    Critical learning at the Summit led by Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders focused attention on issues of indigenous communities and their impact on LGBT experience in the islands and on the mainland.  Protocols for opening up community spaces, analysis of sovereignty and the legacy of colonialism, and discussions about inclusion have resulted in concrete commitments from NQAPIA leadership for increased partnership with and commitment to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander LGBT communities;

3)    A mobilization of over 70 advocates to over a dozen sites that collected over 2,000 postcards for NQAPIA’s campaign to call on the Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT families;

4)    The Fifth Annual Community Catalyst Awards with over 200 guests on hand to honor UNITE HERE Local 5 and former NFL player and LGBT advocate Esera Tuaolo.  Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Governor Neil Abercrombie, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell sent greetings.

“This Summit challenged us to walk the walk as well as talk the talk,” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs.  “From the frank discussions with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander LGBT communities about history and inclusion, to hitting the streets to engage voters in Honolulu about immigration reform, NQAPIA has learned new lessons and has new energy and new partners to work on the issues that matter for all of us.”

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