by Hai Chi Vu
When I was asked to write a post about API Equality – Northern California’s experience at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) Conference, I was perplexed on where to even start. Let me just start by saying that I am writing this post from a young person’s first-time experience at NQAPIA. The conference was my first time being part of a queer and Asian space; first time being connected to queer API organizers and issues from across the nation; and the first time realizing that I’m not alone in my struggles with being queer and Asian.
Even prior to the conference, API Equality’s road to NQAPIA was a process of learning as well. Our interns and staff expanded and utilized our grassroots fundraising skills to fundraise over $3400 to provide the interns this opportunity without the monetary burden. As part of our fundraising campaign, the interns created an ask video featuring why we want to be part of NQAPIA. Honestly, I wanted to attend NQAPIA for personal more than professional reasons. Ever since coming out, I have not felt comfortable with being queer and being in a queer space, never mind a queer and Asian space. I’ve always thought it was not possible to be part of a queer and Asian space before interning at API Equality. So, I was very excited to hop on the plane and be in Washington D.C., yet I was extremely nervous to test the limits of my comfort zone.
Nevertheless, NQAPIA has proven to be a blast! The theme “Presence, Power and Progress” resonated all through the conference. There was a strong sense of solidarity when a group of queer API walked into the White House for the briefing on the status of our community. We had the power to demand that our voices be heard and that our presence be seen. It felt great to counter several incidents of bias with the backing of such a supportive community. I was surprised but even more excited to see so many young organizers and leaders at NQAPIA. Young organizers taking on the challenge of leadership and leading the way for a progressive movement. I was inspired by the young organizers of the Queer Southeast Asian Network, and the progress they’ve made with the QSEA Census. Although the young leaders are quite exceptional and inspiring, I’ve also learned a lot from an older generation of queer API organizers who continues fight with strong spirits, rich knowledge and experiences. Another group that created such a powerful presence at NQAPIA was the parents of queer API children. It warms my heart to see the love, understanding and smiles that these parents brought to those, like myself, who still struggle to seek understanding from their own parents. To the parents, I want to say “Thank You” because your presence had such a powerful impact.
Coming out of the conference, we at API Equality – Northern California are more than ready to organize! To me, NQAPIA validates why I am still part of the queer API movement because the issues are personal, the stories are real, and the struggles are even more real. Thank you NQAPIA for making this space possible for queer Asian Americans to organize, connect, and build power and presence!