HRC staff, National Queer Pacific Islander AllianceOn July 25-28, Adrian Matanza and Hyacinth Alvaran, HRC senior field organizer and diversity program manager, respectively, attended a leadership summit by NQAPIA, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander organizations. The summit took place in Hawaii, a majority Asian Pacific Islander state with a long and complex history of cultural and political struggles in the broader society as well as in

The LGBT community. This is NQAPIA's 5th gathering of LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) across the country, and HRC has been a proud supporter and participant since 2009.

In addition to community and capacity building among 140 LGBT API leaders, highlights from this year's summit included a "DeTour" of Iolani Palace, Pearl Harbor, and areas of Honolulu through the lens of the experiences of indigenous Hawaiians and Hawaii's diverse immigrant populations. The summit also included an afternoon of canvassing neighborhoods to ask hundreds of people to sign postcards in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Adrian and Hyacinth walked away from the summit with stronger relationships with other LGBT APIs, as well as a deeper appreciation of their own experiences and cultural histories as gay and lesbian Filipinos.

Here is Hy's reflection:

Throughout the summit, I connected with other LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders in very personal and moving ways. From identifying with the painful experiences of colonization of native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and their struggle for sovereignty and self-determination, to reflecting on our shared struggles as LGBT APIs to be embraced by our own cultural communities and respected by the broader LGBT community, I appreciated the opportunity to dig deeper into my own sense of self as a Filipina lesbian, cultivate relationships that helped me do that, and hopefully leverage these relationships to support issues that uplift our communities. I also appreciate the learning opportunity to put into greater historical context my own family's history in the Philippines and in the global diaspora.

Adrian’s reflection:

As an American born, Filipino American, I have a unique experience and one that was worth sharing with the other summit attendees. Being able to open up about your family’s experience about immigration helped me realize that I am not alone. Many other folks struggle with what it means to be a first generation LGBT Filipino American and how one is torn between assimilating into the dominant culture while maintaining your family’s cultures and traditions. This summit was one that I truly enjoyed and hope to continue to work with the folks at NQAPIA and many of the other APIs I’ve met along the way. This work will only help build ties to the API community as we work together in journey towards full equality.

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