Posted by Eujean Do and Queenie Tu
On Friday, June 28 2019, interns from APILO’s Youth Advisory Council joined hands with youth from other local API programs to march at the Trans March. This year is especially special as we came together to commemorate the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall and Compton Cafeteria Riots. As we marched and chanted, people leaned out from their windows and waved pink, blue, and white flags, cars honked their horns as bikes rang their bells, and onlookers in the streets danced and cheered.
Before we joined the march, the API contingent of the Trans March gathered on the steps of Mission High School as APIENC, a Bay Area organization that serves trans and non-binary youth, handed out resources and links to take a survey. It was empowering to see so many LGBTQ+ API youth and allies gathered together as a community. As we were waiting, some community leaders stepped up and spoke a few words about how the API LGBTQ+ community is unique in many ways. API LGBTQ+ communities often face a dilemma as there are forced to choose one aspect of their identity over another and compromise their API or LGBTQ+ identities, and don’t feel like they quite fit into either the API communities or the LGBTQ+ communities. In their API communities, they may face homophobia or transphobia, and are ostracized and isolated for the sexuality or gender. In the LGBTQ+ communities, API folks are underrepresented or face discrimination and stereotypes based on their race. LGBTQ+ API folks also often face a generational gap and are unable to connect with their family because of both the cultural differences and because of their LGBTQ+ identity. LBGTQ+ youth are more likely to be disowned by their families, and they make up 40% of the youth homeless population, while they make up only 5-10% of the entire youth population.
It is unfortunate there isn’t an open space for API LGBTQ+ people to fully and wholly be their true selves and embrace all aspects of their identity. However, at the Trans march, seeing so many API LBGTQ+, and other members of the community marching for Trans rights and justice, was so empowering. Everyone’s spirits and love enveloped the air and unity was felt all around. It showed that, despite all of the negatives of the past couple years, such as the transgender ban in the military and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ communities, there is hope that someday, people of all genders and sexualities will not only be recognized and accepted, but also be fully normalized and embraced within our society.