Category Archives: news
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.
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.
Our hearts and condolensces to his family.
Senator Inouye was the highest ranking Asian American member of the US Government.
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.
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.
QAPA is proud to bring the “Wall of Pride” to Boston. API Family Pride is a San Francisco based organization which honors Asian families from across the United States who “courageously defied their community’s homophobia, risked isolation, and supported their LGBT children thereby reclaiming the strong family ties and proud sense of interdependence characteristic of API families.” http://www.apifamilypride.org/programs/wall-of-pride
The Wall of Pride will be on display in the common space of The Meeting Point at 3464 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, from August 29th through September 7th. Please join us for a small reception with the founders of API Family Pride on the evening of Friday, September 7th from 7 to 10pm.
Parents and youth are strongly encouraged to attend.
This event is co-sponsored by QAPA, API Family Pride and The Meeting Point.
The rumors are true, QAPA is phasing out its Yahoo! Group listserv and going to the shiny, minty fresh, Web 2.0-ey Meetup.com. Despite there now being some overhead costs (annual fee) associated with Meetup, we thought it was the best move to make because it shifts the focus to QAPA’s next upcoming event while still allowing members to talk among themselves (discussion boards). Also it makes it easy as Sunday morning to view and RSVP to events. One of the coolest features introduced is that now members can suggest their own events. As soon as 3 others mark that they are interested, it becomes a full fledged event. Power to the people!
We encourage our members to start switching over to the Meetup as there are already events posted that are just waiting for you to RSVP to Come to one of our events or stay and chat a little on our Discussion Board (there’s not much there right now, but we’re looking to our members to get the ball rolling!) If you like the new system, please let us know, and if you really like the system or just want to show your support, you can donate any amount by clicking the link on the left under “Recommended Donation.”
So here’s the big ol’ link to the new location, it’ll be circulated on the Yahoo! Group several times before the Group is turned off for good:
FYI,the new Meetup is just replacing the old clunky Yahoo! listserv. This blog remains alive and well, just like our Facebook group and Twitter Account.
See ya at the next Meetup!
- QAPA Steering
Thank you Sarav!
Our dear steering committee member Sarav Chidambaram recently stepped down from the steering committee. After more than four years of service, he will be sorely missed. Sarav is a fierce community activist involved in MassEquality, the Cambridge GLBT commission, and many more initiatives. We know he will continue to be a part of the QAPA community and we wish him the best!
Welcome Hung and Kathy!
QAPA welcomes two new steering committee member and community coordinators, Kathy and Hung Dinh! Kathy will be leading “QAPA Connect” – plugging you in to all the fun activities in Boston.
Hung is going to be our group facilitator extraodinaire, and will be leading the charge on “QAPA Speaks Out,” our latest discussion and safe space initiative.
Thanks guys for signing on for a year of craziness and lending us your time and passion. Welcome!