Celebrating APAHM with HRC Youth Ambassadors

by Guest contributor

Post submitted by HRC Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Team

This Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, HRC celebrates those living at the intersections of AAPI and LGBTQ experiences. Former HRC Youth Well-Being intern Abby Jeffers (she/her, they/them) recently connected with two multiracial AAPI HRC Youth Ambassadors to speak with them on their thoughts on being AAPI and LGBTQ, as well as the recent surge in anti-Asian discrimination and violence since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is one of the most diverse ethnoracial groups in America, according to HRC’s 2019 LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Youth Report. As a result, the lived experiences of AAPI people, including AAPI youth, in America vary widely.

There is power at the intersections of AAPI and LGBTQ identities.

Being Black, Asian and trans, I feel that the intersection where each of my identities meet is almost harmonious. They support each other, uplift each other and go hand in hand with one another.”

Jalen Smith, (he/him/his), HRC Youth Ambassador

However, there is also the possibility of multiple marginalization for AAPI LGBTQ people. AAPIs hold a variety of cultural factors, including family, religion and more that may or may not impact how someone sees or feels about their identity.

“My racial identity, in a way, made it harder for me to acknowledge my gender identity, but in other ways, helped me accept and eventually come to terms with it,” said Smith. “Moreover, my race has given me a unique perspective to being trans nd alternatively, played a huge role in how I approach and navigate it at times.”

AAPI people also face the additional impact of anti-Asian racism. Though individual lived experiences vary greatly, 97% of AAPI respondents in HRC’s LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Youth Report reported that racism impacts the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“Being a white-passing South Asian and white person, my race has not been as much of a source of bullying,” said HRC Youth Ambassador Luke Chacko (they/them, him/him, she/hers), who has previously spoken about their experience with being bullied due to homophobic and transphobic discrimination.

The only times I have been bullied is when people ask what ethnicity I am and I say Indian and white, and then they start mocking the accent and culture…no one’s culture should be mocked.”

Luke Chacko, HRC Youth Ambassador

This has become especially relevant with the recent increase in anti-Asian violence and discrimination, which Smith said has made him feel “heartbroken and ultimately disappointed in how we are treating each other especially in this day and age, when our most vulnerable are being harmed.”

In order to uplift all members of the LGBTQ community, everyone must be committed to equity, inclusion, affirmation and anti-racism for the AAPI community. And that starts with listening to and supporting the AAPI people in your lives.

For more information, check out HRC’s resources for AAPI LGBTQ communities, including Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and the LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Youth Report.