Category Archives: issues
In light of recent events, we just want to emphasize how important community and support systems are. We had the honor of having Marsha Aizumi come speak at Makeshift earlier this month and prior we had a group discussion about coming out (part of our QAPA Speaks Out series). The Boston Marathon bombings showed us that we can unite together to heal. When we are reminded of our mortality, we feel the universal vulnerability that deeply connects us.
When we are struggling with our sexual orientation, coming out, or grief, we turn to those that we love and trust most. Marsha Aizumi showed us the power of a family’s love and acceptance. Our Coming Out discussion revealed that many of us relied on close friends to give us courage and confidence. The Boston Strong spirit that runs through our area now shows that even strangers can instinctively rush to rescue in times of our need. The point is – you never nor should you have to go through any of these life changing moments alone.
We are so thankful for those that have come to our events, and even those who haven’t just yet. QAPA is nothing without the care and consistent support we have received. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if there is something we can help with. We are more reliant on each other than we ever realise, and we hope to see you soon.
Special thanks to Marsha Aizumi for graciously sharing her new book and personal journey with her trans* son. If you would like to read her heartwarming story, please check out her book, “Two Spirits, One Heart.” Special thanks to MakeShift for generously helping us provide the space for the intimate event.
Often we find that we have to separate our parts to feel like we belong somewhere. We go to queer groups and then even those groups can be further subdivded. Our discussion last week with theologian Patrick S. Cheng was insightful because it encouraged us to embrace the intersection of our identities.
We don’t have to separate our need for a spiritual fulfillment from our queer identity. Religious extremists make it easy for us to forget that religion is not exclusive with the social conservatism that ostracizes us. We may long for that social unity that happens so infrequently in our communities; often these communities may be centralized in a religious setting. For example, I grew up in a sparsely Asian-populated area so church or temple were the few times the community would unite to socialize and keep our cultures – our roots alive. For us to deny those cultural or religious roots can be painful or cause “spirtual abuse.”
It doesn’t have to be this way! There are many religious communities that opened their doors to the queer community. Whether you can wander into a church, temple, synagoue, or mosque, you can also look for other resources to help reconcile your spirirtual and queer identity. There are plenty of online groups and forums (For starters: LGBT Religious Archives: http://www.lgbtran.org/). Patrick S. Cheng is also releasing a book soon called Rainbow Theology: Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit. More info on his book here: http://www.patrickcheng.net/rainbow-theology.html.
We want to thank Patrick S. Cheng for his resources and outreach in our discussion, and of course many thanks to our attendees!
EDIT: Patrick S. Cheng will be speaking at Trinity Church on May 5, 2013 about his newly released Rainbow Theology book! More details at:http://trinitychurchboston.org/calendar/event/10/2h0k5e4moos5a1828snacn8qq0
QAPA is excited to partner with NQAPIA, MAP for Health, PRYSM, MASALA and GLAD to address the policies that substantially impact LGBT Asian lives.
Please join us for an evening focused on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and how it impacts LGBT Asian Americans. Share your/your family’s story or come to listen. Refreshments and refreshing conversation will be provided. You bring the networking and community. We’ll bring the latest information locally and nationally about the national debate around immigrants’ rights and how YOU can get involved!
Thursday, March 21st, 6:30pm
Held at MAP for Health, 324 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 35,000 same sex bi-national couples where one partner is a US citizen or legal permanent resident and the other is a foreign national. There are over 400,000 Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, over 60% of them are immigrants.
With President Obama passing the Dream Act, the time is NOW for comprehensive immigration reform.
A few weeks ago, our friends John and Belinda at API Famnily Pride poised the question, “How Do We Make The Transgender Community Part Of Our Conversation?
It’s kind of a funny question to ask, since Trans* people are and have been the backbone of the Queer Civil Rights movement.
During Barack Obama’s speech during his inauguration, he passionately linked three locations together: Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement, Selma, the birthplace of the black civil rights movement, and Stonewall, the bar that is often cited as the birthplace of the LGBT civil rights movement.
Note that I said the birthplace of L-G-B-T civil rights. I did not say gay civil rights.
NPR, has since graciously offered a quick history lesson to any who didn’t understand the President’s three references. But in all the synopses of the Stonewall Riots, the “historic” voice was so narrowly presented that anyone reading/listening can easily deny the richness that sparked the next 40 years of civil rights activism. The people who rioted for FIVE DAYS were transvestites and bull daggers and drag queens and cross dressers and nancy boys and fags and faeries and butches and femmes and people like you and people like me. Some of them were on the fringes of society, and yes, it can be argued that some of them were on the fringes of queer society. But they were there and they were the reason why City Hall plaza flies a rainbow flag, and why Pride is celebrated in June.
People often like to separate out the T from the LGB community. I understand. I am a self identified transman, and I can tell you that my own personal journey of identity has been focused around gender and NOT sexuality; a key distinctive difference. However gender expression is such a crucial and HISTORIC piece of the queer rights movement, and safeguarding gender identity is not just protection for Trans* people. It’s protection for everyone who does not fit the image of Suzy Homemaker of John Q. Public. It protects butch lesbians and effeminate men and everyone who isn’t David or Victoria Beckham.
So as we go forward and divide up among our respective Ls, Gs, Bs and Ts, let’s try to remember that it was once “us” verse “them”. And as I sit here wrapped in the comfortable blanket that those brave souls fought to provide for me, I ask you to remember the cataclysmic movement where we defined our spirit of unity and defiance TOGETHER in the face of opposition.
It’s Trans Awareness Week (TAW) across the country; that means communities everywhere are busy holding educational and social events. This week of events culminates with an event called Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR): a candlelight vigil where we remember and memorialize people around the world who have died for being Trans or gender non-conforming. TDOR started here in Boston, after a woman by the name of Rita Hester was murdered in Allston just for being who she is: a Trans woman of color.
Rita Hester was murdered in Allston
just for being who she is
When I was still a baby queer, I like so many others trying to figure out identity, searched high and low for community. I had been exposed to the lesbian and gay community; a community that has become it’s own culture, complete with genre music, media icons and cruise ships. As compelling and as shiny as this world of unicorns and rainbows is, it was not where I belonged.
What I found instead, was TDOR, and let me say, it was a stark difference. TDOR is not a glitter clad parade down Main Street USA. There are no Dykes on Bikes or Go-Go boys. It is NOT a celebration. It is a somber, solemn event, where the names of murder victims are read from a frighteningly long list. And as dark as this event can be (there is often weeping involved) it continues to be one of the largest events for the Trans community: a time to be with friends and loved ones, and time to recognize our fallen.
TDOR is not a glitter clad parade down Main Street USA.
I like to remind people that gay pride in the USA was catalyzed by the Stonewall Riots in NYC. On that fateful night in June of 1969, a group of drag queens and butch dykes had the gall to fight back. They took a stand and said they would not be targeted any longer for their gender presentation or identity. The modern gay civil rights movement owes it’s start to Trans and gender non conforming people who were getting abused, killed and persecuted.
They took a stand and said they would not be targeted any longer for their gender presentation or identity.
TDOR is in all our roots. Please remember. To find a TDOR event in your neighborhood, please visit http://www.transgenderdor.org/.
Maxwell N. is an American Asian transman who has lived in Boston for almost 15 years. He is the Vice-Chair of the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition (MTPC), a founding member of the Trailblazers, the Boston based softball team for trans and gender variant people, and serves on the Steering Committee for QAPA (Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance). He is passionate about visibility for Queer Asians, and strives to bring the issues that impact our enriched communities to the forefront. In his professional life, he works as an architect.
Since a steering member has stepped out with a bullying perspective of the bully, I thought I would write about the bullied. So if you’re wondering if you’re all alone and if no one understands, I hope you read this. I was once you.
I thought bullying was natural, a part of growing up. Simply being Asian American living in Tennessee, I thought I would never belong. When the school forms only have three bubbles: white, black, or mixed – you start to wonder why you are so different. Why can’t I just fit in?
The kids always told me to go back to my home country. If I walked by them in the halls, they would say derogatory things like “Ching ching chong.” I’ve gone to countless teachers and the only advice I was offered was to ignore them. One time I wore a shirt with a bald eagle, my idea of what is distinctly American, and I approached my teacher, “If I show them that I’m American, will they leave me alone?” She just looked at me with a sad look and carried on.
The system let me down. My family didn’t understand. The greater burden was that I had let myself down. I believed them – all the insults and sad looks; I thought I had no hope to ever be normal. I won’t pretend that what you are going through is easy, and that there is a magical solution. I have been there, and I know it doesn’t suddenly just “get better.” There is not an age or geographical boundary that you cross – it is something inside of you. Things don’t just get better. You want better. You make better.
More importantly, you need to find someone to talk with, someone who can relate, someone who understands. You are never alone, and you need to grasp that. We are all struggling to find our place in the world, and there is a place for you. You belong somewhere – you mean something. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are so much more than a bubble on a form, a stereotype, or an insult.
http://www.glaad.org/spiritday Stand against bullying!
I was fortunate to have a support system by the time I was outed in high school. When I realised my sexuality in middle school, I desperately sought out someone that would understand. I found a LGBT student forum at Student Center Network (now located at student.org). Suddenly, there were many struggling like me. Most of us were small-town teens just looking for a friend. My friends in middle/high school were important too, but I wanted to emphasize how influential and important that LGBT support was – even if it was online. My “internet” friends spanned from the UK to Australia, and we’ve met up and kept in touch to this day. They gave me the strength to just be who I am because I’m not alone.
Now there are support and social groups that you can find everywhere on the internet. QAPA is proudly a community of resources, a community you can reach out to. We have members that have struggled like you have or maybe have overcome obstacles that you will have.
Reach out. Talk with someone. You don’t have to deal with this alone.
Please also consider the Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
So once upon a time, I was a bully.
What can I say, except, the high school food chain was, and is, very hierarchical. There was always someone above you, and if you were me, you were desperate to also have someone under you. I thought that hazing and bullying were a weird societal right of passage. In fact, because I played sports, I expected to be hazed as part of the ritualistic team bonding experience. Older students would talk about getting kidnapped in the middle of the night by the upper classmen and laugh with glee over the shared tomfoolery. I saw those teammates who were all so close, and longed to be part of the group. I *longed* to be bullied. This misguided impression also made me think that as I got older, it was my job to haze those who were younger than me- so that they could also share in the misery.
I didn’t know until after graduation that the actions I initiated and participated in were bullying. My mother conveyed to me that those same underclassmen, would cross the street if they saw me coming, and had been so afraid of me, that they needed to warn their parents about me.
I was shocked. I was horrified. I had become that person. To add further insult, I was under the dubious perception that those people were my friends and that we were sharing in an experience that was fun and funny.
I am an adult now. I am a fully functioning member of society. And in my pursuit of my manhood, I have faced obstacles and oppression and real, real hatred. As a transman, I know what it means to be afraid: afraid of the world around you, of not fitting in, and always being the outcast. And as proud as I am now of the man I am, I am still deeply embarrassed about the actions that I participated in as a teenager.
I am no longer in touch with those that I bullied in high school. And as much as I would like to apologize to them, I can’t assume that they want to communicate with me. I want to believe that they are all doing well, having grown past the awkward years and are now confident and stable adults. So instead of burdening them with my guilt, I shall toss my apology into the sea of the internet, and hope it does some good.
I am sorry for being a bully.
We’re Queer. And we stand against Bullying.
In recognition of National Coming Out Day, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) has issued a statement on LGBT equality and justice.
The following is an excerpt from that statement. For the full statement, please visit http://www.ncapaonline.org/
The Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community in the United States has always been made up of a diversity of people from different ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, religions, languages spoken, and more. The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), as a coalition of organizations that represent these diverse constituencies and provides a national voice on policy issues and priorities, celebrates that diversity in all its forms, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).
NCAPA recognizes the unique needs and concerns LGBT people and families have within the AANHPI community and many of its member organizations have played critical roles in advocating LGBT policy issues. The Japanese American Citizens League was the first non-LGBT organization after the ACLU to support marriage equality in the state of Hawai’i, almost 10 years before the issue reached the mainland.
NCAPA remembers this history, and strongly affirms its support for members within the AANHPI community who are LGBT. NCAPA members individually support a number of LGBT policy issues and the NCAPA 2012 Policy Platform includes policy positions on LGBT issues as well. NCAPA knows the sting of discrimination based on religion, and supports religious freedom, and knows that LGBT people’s rights can and must be protected in ways that are consistent with freedom of religious expression.
Fellow QAPA members, please take a moment to call your state lawmaker to support this very important piece of legislature:
Dear MTPC Supporter,
I am writing you with important news.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the Transgender Equal Rights bill TODAY or TOMORROW.
Please take a moment NOW to contact your state lawmakers to ask for their support of this bill.
Your request for support from state lawmakers is vital. Opponents of the bill have been swamping the inboxes of lawmakers. Lawmakers need to know that the public and their constituents support this bill!
Over the next 24 hours, it is critical that lawmakers hear from bill supporters!
MassEquality will be phonebanking in support of the bill all day tomorrow. And we need volunteers! During phone banks, we talk to constituents and transfer supporters of the bill directly to their lawmakers’ voicemail boxes so they can leave messages in support of the bill. Call Justin at 617.878.2344 to sign up or send him an email!
In the days ahead, you may hear confusing things about this bill. To be clear, this bill provides vital protections in employment, education, housing, credit, and hate crimes which transgender residents of the Commonwealth desperately need. The bill is not perfect as it does not include public accommodations protections, but it is a solid civil rights bill that represents an historic step forward in supporting full civil rights protections for the transgender community.
Gunner Scott, MTPC Executive Director
For more information, go to http://www.masstpc.org/.
Hi Folks -
Please consider donating to relief efforts in Japan in light of the recent earthquake and Tsunami. QAPA is donating $150 to American Red Cross. If you’ve already made your donation, please consider leaving a comment on the blog post, and the organization that you contributed. It would be great to see a community wide effort in providing assistance to the tragedy.
Click the link to see QAPA’s donation letter to the American Red Cross.