A national tour seeking to offer guidance and support to families of Asian-American LGBT people will be stopping in Philadelphia next week.
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance will present the Asian Family Acceptance Workshop from 7-9 p.m. June 11 at Leeway Foundation, 1315 Walnut St., Suite 832. Philadelphia is one of 12 cities on the newly launched tour.
“Asian-Americans are the nation’s fastest-growing minority group yet popular media images of the LGBTQ community do not always reflect the racial and gender diversity of the community,” said NQAPIA executive director Glenn Magpantay. “The challenge for LGBTQ Asian-Americans is that people think all gays are white and all Asians are straight; where do we belong?”
The organization’s workshop tour seeks to raise awareness at the family level about LGBT acceptance, an effort also pursued in its new advertising campaign, Family is Still Family, a multilingual television and print campaign.
“A lot of LGBTQ Asian-Americans suffer in silence,” Magpantay said. “They suffer depression, suicide, being treated as second-class family members. We want to strengthen Asian-American families so parents can fully accept and love their LGBTQ children. We need to do this in Asian languages, like Bengali, Chinese and Vietnamese. We need to do it with Asian messengers, like parents. And we need to do it in a compassionate and in-person way.”
Asian-American parents of LGBT children, as well as LGBT people themselves, will speak at each workshop. In Philadelphia, Clara Yoon, the mother of a transgender bisexual son, and Joanne Lee, the mother of two trans children, one of whom committed suicide, will address the participants. Both women are Korean; Magpantay said organizers are aiming to tailor speakers to reflect the demographics of the city in which they are speaking.
The free workshops are geared toward parents, but Magpantay noted that family members, friends and allies of LGBT people, as well as community members themselves, are welcome.
Among the takeaways he said organizers are hoping participants get the education that an LGBT identity is “not a Western disease.”
“Their kid did not become gay because they moved to the U.S., or didn’t become trans because they have trans friends,” Magpantay said. “They’ll learn that coming out is hard, that there are issues of shame, of disrespecting our ancestors. Many parents of Asian-Americans sacrificed greatly for their kids to give us a better life and we don’t want to dishonor them, but we are who are. And that is natural and wonderful. We’re hoping we can help parents come to an understanding and acceptance of what it means to be LGBTQ.”