Human Rights Campaign, Asian American Writers’ Workshop and Youth Speaks Present Spoken Word Series ‘APA OUT LOUD’ in Honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

by Alberto Morales

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in partnership with Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) and Youth Speaks (YS), introduced APA OUT LOUD, a spoken word video series in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). The series, which will appear on HRC’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, features three young LGBTQ APA spoken word artists, Lauren Bullock, Caitlyn Clark, and Jireh Deng, performing original works that bring visibility to the legacy of issues impacting people who live at the intersections of LGBTQ and APA identities. APA OUT LOUD also features the illustrations of Meg, a young Asian American, trans, non-binary artist. The series arose from the intent to create platforms for LGBTQ APA voices at a time when legislatures across the U.S. are targeting LGBTQ people and when APA people are experiencing unprecedented levels of hate-filled harassment and violence.

APA OUT LOUD could not come at a more important time. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time when we should celebrate. However, given the backdrop of attacks against the LGBTQ, and particularly, the transgender and non-binary community, in state legislatures across the country and the rise in anti-APA hate crimes, now is a time to call upon the art world and artists to provide the sorts of transformational experiences that can help us all process the trauma, to make space for joy and to map out a vision for a better future. Our hope is that APA OUT LOUD will serve as an healing and galvanizing element for those living at the intersections of LGBTQ and APA identiities, and to inspire all of us to take action to uplift our communities.”

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign, President

The rich history of organizing in the APA community is grounded by alliances and coalitions rooted in trust, and it is in that very spirit of committing to each other in solidarity that the AAWW celebrates this incredible partnership with HRC and Youth Speaks. Continued violence and attacks against our most vulnerable communities are a somber reminder that until we are all free, none of us are free. APA OUT LOUD serves as a resounding proclamation of AAWW's mission to amplify Asian and Asian diasporic storytelling and artistry so that we can one day turn the just future of our imaginations into a powerful new reality."

Jafreen Uddin, Asian American Writers' Workshop, Executive Director

The poet Fatimah Asghar once wrote, ‘my people my people I can't be lost / when I see you my compass / is brown & gold & blood.’ In a historic moment defined by overlapping and interwoven violences impacting LGBTQIA AAPI community, where the world is reeling with wounds so prolific we can't seem to close one without opening another, events like AAPI OUT LOUD are a reminder that we need to trust in young people to guide us. Youth Speaks is excited to combine forces with Human Rights Campaign and Asian American Writers' Workshop to support and amplify these mighty LGBTQIA AAPI artists because we know that the poem is often much more than a poem when it reaches the necessary ear — it becomes a mirror, a bridge, a lighthouse, a shield, an escape route."

Gabriel Cortez, Youth Speaks, Director of Programs

Premiere line-up:

  • May 10 - Jireh Deng will premiere ‘This body is (not) a virus
  • May 17 - Lauren Bullock will premiere ‘Postcard from San Fransokyo in the Form of a Poem’
  • May 24 - Caitlyn Clark will premiere ‘homonyms, after tragedy & Ocean Vuong’

Artist bios:

Lauren Bullock is a queer Black and Vietnamese writer, performer, teaching artist, events organizer, and model. Her work appears on, Button Poetry, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and more. Lauren earned acclaim for her pop culture commentary through editorials on Black Nerd Problems as well as serving as poetry editor for FreezeRay Poetry. To date, she has organized 7 international and regional arts conferences or festivals, and 5 monthly series. Lauren’s modeling work has also been featured by publications such as Gmaro Magazine and Out-and-Out Magazine. When not creating she enjoys fighting crime as a costumed vigilante of many aliases.

Caitlyn Clark is a Korean-American poet and current undergraduate at Yale University. She serves as Editor-in-chief of Broad Recognition, Yale's intersectional feminist student magazine, and is a member of WORD, Yale's oldest spoken word group. She became the youngest Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Grand Champion at age 14, and has since gone on to perform on stages across the country, including representing the Bay Area at Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival (2014). She has performed alongside the likes of John Legend and Sharon Jones, and her work has been featured in Button Poetry, Upworthy, Quiet Lightning's sPARKLE & bLINK, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. She hopes to pursue a future in organizing for the social, political, and economic liberation of the oppressed. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jireh Deng (she/they) was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California. Her words appear with the Asian American Writer’s Workshop, the podcast “VS”, Youth Speaks anthology “Between my Body and the Air” and elsewhere. She has emceed the TEDxCSULB 2020 conference and performed with the San Francisco Public Library and is a member of West Hollywood’s 2021 Pride Poets cohort. A screenwriter in training, she was a workshop participant in Get Lit Words Ignite 2020-21 Poetic Screenwriters Lab. Summer of 2021 she will be an editorial pages intern at the LA Times. You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter (@jireh_deng).

Meg (they/them) is an Asian American, trans, non-binary artist. They create art and apparel that represents and fights for the QTBIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. When they're not making art, Meg is pursuing their passions through their YouTube channel, MegEmiko, where they focus on topics surrounding being trans non-binary and their journey on low-dose testosterone in hopes of helping folks in the QTBIPOC community feel seen, heard, and represented. Their main goal is to create art, apparel, and content that reminds everyone in the QTBIPOC communities that they are never alone in this fight for equality. Instagram: @megemikoart & @megemikolee.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

The Asian American Writers' Workshop (AAWW) is a national literary nonprofit dedicated to publishing, incubating, and amplifying work by Asian and Asian diasporic writers and artists. Since our founding in 1991, we have provided an alternative literary space that operates at the intersections of art, race, and social justice. At a time when migrants, women, people of color, Muslims, and LGBTQ people are specifically targeted, we offer a new countercultural community space in which to imagine a more just future.

Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks creates spaces that challenge young people to develop and amplify their voices as creators of societal change. We envision a world in which young people are heard, honored and connected through creative ecosystems of interdependence and care.

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