Author Archives: Binh

For Pulse in Orlando, for us everywhere

I was in disbelief when my friend told me the news about Orlando’s Pulse this morning. It felt surreal, remote. I may struggle with the eloquence others have expressed, but I can at least try. It feels jarring when just yesterday I was at Boston Pride, a moment of community and celebration.

Today we mourn.

With 50 confirmed dead and many more injured, there is a wake of many familes and friends who are heartbroken today. What must it feel like if you didn’t even know your loved one identified as lgbtq? How many families are reeling in the confusion and hurt of it all? Make no mistake – this was an act of hate. It was a latinx night at Pulse so I can only imagine how many QTPOC lives were lost or in the limbo. What felt so remote, suddenly felt so personal. This could have so easily been me or any of my friends. It has been repeated, but lgbt clubs aren’t like “regular” or straight clubs. They are a place where we feel we can feel unpolgetically free, a place of radical self-love and celebration.

I have built my community on the dancefloor. QAPA has organised countless events at clubs, and I’ve made my share of closest friends at Queeraoke or Milky Way. For someone to violate that kind of sacred space, for someone to steal and hurt so many lives, it is a heartbreaking tragedy with a rippling effect everywhere. Where can we be safe? What does it mean to be safe? Can we ever be safe?

I also want to take this moment to discourage any Islamphobia rhetoric that will consequently make those of that faith unsafe. Many of our LGBTQ+ are also Muslim or Sikh and will be unfairly targeted for how they appear or what they believe. Hate has no religion. Think about all that hurts even more lives than the lives lost at Pulse. For us, Pulse is a visible body count. But the pervasive transphobia, homophobia, police brutality, racist immigration policies, and more takes so many more lives than we can even grasp. To the LGBTQ+ youth that we lose to suicide from immense bullying and in the face of domestic policies that turn the other way. To the QTPOC lives and futures we lose to police brutality, incarceration, or deportation. Just because your politician didn’t use a gun doesn’t make them less guilty of the blood on their hands.

Please mourn for the lives we lost in Orlando. We will feel this heartbreak, but please also understand this is not a simple incident and it only represents the work that remains for us to do. Hold each other gently, love fiercely, and work hard to make sure this never happens again.

Statement of Solidarity

Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA) is in solidarity with community members at the Boston Spirit Magazine’s LGBT Executive Networking night. Boston Spirit Magazine has elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker as their keynote speaker despite the stalemate political climate with legislation (House Bill #1577, Senate Bill #735) to protect our trans, gender non-conforming, and agender friends and family in public accommodations.

This is so much more than a bathroom bill. Public accommodations include any place outside of the safety of home, work, or school. This bill passing will protect LGBTQIA friends and family in public parks, hotels, public transportation, restaurants, medical facilities, theaters, malls – it is all encompassing. Yes, as it stands right now, in “liberal” Massachusetts, these places can legally discriminate and throw someone out of any public accommodation with no legal recourse. Too often people forget that this does happen in “liberal” states, and it will continue to do so if we do not have these legal protections. We could tell you to check yelp for places around town who have discriminated against folks, but we should not need to rely on these kind of resources to find out where we can be safe. Our LGBTQIA family should feel safe everywhere.

The road towards justice is long and winding. We still have to fight against deportations, police brutality, and perhaps apparent tonight you will see the clear disparities between our QPoC folks and non-PoC LGBTQIA folks. While many QPoC and immigrant folks are struggling for survival, there is an executive networking night for their privilege. Our presence is not only for folks impacted by this accomodations bill, but to show that our QPoC community is united and will not be silenced.

We urge everyone to show your solidarity. Show that we are here, we’re not going anywhere, and we demand nothing less than full protection for everyone.

Third Annual Fundraiser BBQ 2013

Come to our Annual BBQ Picnic!

Lots of friends, fun, and food!

When: Saturday, August 3, 2013
Time: 1-6pm
Where: Arsenal Park, 485 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA
Price: $20 online RSVP; $25 cash day of (sliding scale email: qapa@qapa.org)

Your ticket gives you access to all the food at the BBQ.  It also helps to cover the cost of registration and materials incurred by hosting a booth at the Boston Pride Festival.  We are a volunteer-run organization and we rely on your generosity and participation to sustain operations. The Annual BBQ is by far our largest event, because of you!  Come, have a good time, meet some new people, eat some tasty food and help us raise some funds to help cover the cost of being out, proud and Asian in Boston!

The BBQ will again take place at the sprawling 13-acre Arsenal Park in Watertown. There will be ribs, steak, wings, hot dogs, vegetarian fare, and drinks. If you want to bring a dish, please do, it is welcome but not required. Feel free to bring frisbees, foot/soft balls, water guns, cards, board games.  Help us get the word out!  Bring a partner, bring a roommate, bring an ally, bring your mom — everyone is welcome! (but don’t bring your dog because the park doesn’t allow it)

Please reserve your ticket ahead of time, $20 online (via meetup) / $25 day of. On the day of, you can pay with cash, check, or even with credit/debit cards! Please let us know if funds are an issue by emailing us at qapa@qapa.org for a sliding scale. This event is the main fundraiser QAPA holds, but we would love as many people to come as possible.

Arsenal Park is accessible via the 70 Bus route which passes through Central Square, by the T station. We will also be organizing car pool on Meetup.

With thanks and love,

QAPA Steering

QAPA is committed to providing a supportive social, political, and educational environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in the Boston and New England area.

Support

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.

QAPA Speaks Out: Queerness and Religion

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

Year of the Snake 2013 Festivities

We had great time at Chau Chow City on February 2, 2013 to celebrate the Year of the Snake!  We shared food family style, and were able to even do a bit of fundraising through the generosity of our members. There were new and old members alike.food

After dinner, we didn’t want to part ways just yet and we went to have some bubble tea and continued conversations. QAPA wishes everyone an incredible year, and if you’re not done celebrating yet. There is the Quincy Lunar New Year Festival this Sunday, March 10th (postponed from February 24 due to weather). We will be tabling this year starting noon time. Come by and say hi and enjoy the festivities! You can RSVP on our meetup page for more details.

The Lunar New Year is a special time for families to gather and reflect. We have a year to hope for better things to come not only for our real family, but for the “families” that we have discovered through our communities. QAPA is very lucky to have this family and we cannot wait to contribute more for 2013.

QAPA Stands Against Bullying II

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/