LGBTQ API Athletes: Amazin LêThị
Amazin LêThị was a Vietnamese professional bodybuilder and now does advocacy work with her organization the Amazin Lethi Foundation, promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and equality for LGBT youth. She grew up in Australia, where she said, as a teen, she was bullied for being Asian and, later on, for being part of the rainbow community. Because she was a transracial adoptee from Vietnam and brought up in a white household, she felt that she did not fit in well in any particular group. Throughout her teenage to young adult years, she said she had felt suicidal. It was difficult to pull through those times, but when she did, she was committed to make it so other youth today would be able to have people they can turn to for support.
Her drive for changing the sports scene is rooted in her own experience as a professional bodybuilder, where she was the only Asian in her community, as well as the only woman. Homophobic and transphobic behavior is common in sports, especially in locker room talk, said LêThị. Back then, she did not have any rainbow Asian role models to look up to and could not feel comfortable coming out at all. That is why, in her own work, she aims to be that role model for youth who are trying to figure out who they are and are feeling insecure about their identity.
Through sports, she hopes to create a safe place where Asian rainbow youth can have a support network. Being in a team helps people learn about themselves as individuals as well as who they are within a larger group. They get to express themselves through their body instead of verbally. She acknowledges the pressures that people in professional sports have where they cannot express their authentic self fully to the world because their career is on the line. NQAPIA is working with her to promote LGBT equality and API inclusion through sports. She will be speaking at NQAPIA’s 2018 National Conference in San Francisco in July.
Lethi prefers using the terms “queer” and “rainbow” to better represent the fluidity in people’s sexuality, so that people are not pressured to categorize themselves in specific boxes.