HRC is proud to honor Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and celebrate the advocates and allies who have driven our movement forward at the intersections of LGBTQ experiences and Asian American and Pacific Islander identities.
The term “Asian American” was first coined by Yuji Ichioka, a historian and civil rights activist, in the 1960s to allow an incredibly diverse and expanding community to coalesce into a self-defining political and social identity as they organized on key civil rights issues and elevate their stories.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month became a national weekly observance in 1979, scheduled to coincide with anniversaries of the completion of the transcontinental railroad -- built largely by Chinese immigrants -- and the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. In 1992, the observance was permanently designated as an entire month to celebrate API communities.
We honor trailblazing leaders like Patsy Mink, who in 1965 was the first woman of color and Asian American woman elected to Congress. Mink paved way for individuals like Mark Takano, the first openly gay person of Asian descent in Congress, and Mazie Hirono, the first female elected senator from Hawaii and the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate.
Politicians including Judy Chu, B.J. Cruz, T.J. Cox, Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Andy Kim, Ted Lieu, Kim Coco Iwamoto, Stephanie Murphy and Sam Park continue to fight tirelessly for equality from the local to the federal level of our government.
We are proud to share the stories of writers like award-winning journalist Helen Zia, who is an outspoken advocate on Asian American visibility, LGBTQ equality and women’s rights.
Many other artists and writers -- including Sutan Amrull (or notably known as Raja), Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, June Millington, Parvez Sharma, podcast hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, Bowen Yang, John Yang, Jose Antonio Vargas, and poets Alok Vaid Menon, Terisa Siagatonu, Ocean Vuong and Kit Yan -- create movements and transform culture through sharing powerful narratives.
Athletes including Julie Chu, Tadd Fujikawa, Amazin LeThi and Esera Tuaolo fight for equality both inside and outside the sports arena.
We celebrate the visibility of openly LGBTQ celebrities like Nico Santos, one of the stars of “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first movie with an all-Asian cast and an Asian-American lead in 25 years since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993.
Celebrities and influencers from Bryan Chan, Margaret Cho, Jake Choi, Vincent Choi, Gia Gunn, Rex Lee, Alex Mapa, Maulik Pancholy, Vincent Rodriguez III, Jenny Shimizu, George Takei, BD Wong and Eugene Lee Yang continue to show the diverse experiences of APIs on and off the screen through living openly and authentically, inspiring many to live their truths.
Advocates like Faisal Alam, Urooj Arshad, Pabitra Benjamin, Dan Choi, Cecilia Chung, Margaret Chung, Ben de Guzman, Sansanka Jinadasa, Glenn Magpantay, Kham Moua, Pauline Park, Geena Rocero, Karina Samala, Shiva Subbaraman, Mohan Sundararaj, Jim Toy and Mia Frances Yamamoto challenge us to question the bias, discrimination and prejudice that disproportionately affects LGBTQ people of color in the U.S. and around the world.
These trailblazers have raised LGBTQ API visibility across the country -- from promoting racial diversity within the LGBTQ movement, advocating against bias and discrimination in all forms, to ensuring the voices and faces of the community continue to be represented across media, literature and film.
LGBTQ API youth today can still face difficult and nuanced coming-out experiences, and the lack of visibility within the LGBTQ community also creates challenges. As API LGBTQ visibility continues to increase, more people will be able to make the brave decision to come out and live their lives openly and authentically.
For more information about life at the intersections of API and LGBTQ identities, click here.