by Sarah E. Baker -
Seattle JACL President
The concept for Family was originally started by the Seattle Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in 2014. As the second national organization to support marriage equality (after the ACLU), the JACL has always been a strong advocate and ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. The Seattle JACL recognized the need for a culturally relevant API LGBTQIA+ support group in the Seattle area, and thus the idea for Family sparked. What started as a small community meeting at the Panama Hotel Tea Room, the first Family conference soon took wing and was successfully implemented in June of 2015. Marsha Aizumi, author of Two Spirits One Heart writes: 'Attending an Asian American LGBTQ event like Family with my son and daughter-in- law, we were able to see people like us, so we didn't feel so all alone and shared our stories of moving through fear, sadness and shame to unconditional love and acceptance which continued to bring healing to our lives. The Family event also gave me, a mother, hope that more families will support their children and more allies will become visible voices for my son and the LGBTQ community.'
'Family 2.0: An Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ Gathering' took place this past Saturday, May 20th at North Seattle College in the Health and Sciences building. Attendance totaled approximately 150 people, with folks traveling in from 6 different states to take part in the event. Seattle JACL President and 'Family 2.0' Committee Chair, Sarah E. Baker, emceed the event. The day began with greetings from Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim on behalf of the City of Seattle, followed by North Seattle College's Cathy Lee Arquino, Director of International Programs.
The resource fair, which took place all day, had representatives and materials from 20 different community based and national organizations. These included: Seattle JACL, North Seattle College, North Seattle College Gender and Equity Center, API Chaya, Trikone, NQAPIA, PFLAG, NOOR, Ingersoll Gender Center, Bayan Queer Collective, LGBTQ Allyship, Hepatitis Education Project, Interplay - Sneaky Deep Collective, Mayeno Consulting, Marsha Aizumi, API PFLAG California, Seattle Gay News, Gender Odyssey, State Farm, and International Community Health Services.
After the initial kickoff was a performance by the Seattle Interplay Multicultural group. Interplay is a national organization that bases itself in group therapy via various improvisational styles that incorporate movement, stillness, vocalization, and other types of self-expression through the body. Coke Tani, a member of Interplay, traveled from California to join in the performance and to help facilitate an Interplay workshop later in the day.
The first workshops of the morning ran for 1.5 hours and consisted of the following:
o How LGBTQ Folks can support trans and gender nonconforming communities, facilitated by the Ingersoll Gender Center
o Family Acceptance, facilitated by NQAPIA
o The Soul Loves the Body: Healing, Reconnecting and Affirming Our Lives Through Movement, Story, and Interplay / Body Wisdom, facilitated by Interplay
o Run!! It's Islamophobia, facilitated by NOOR
Following the morning workshops was lunch, which was provided by two family run, people of color owned businesses: pork, chicken, and tofu banh mi from Vietnam Café and Sandwich, and Tofu pad Thai and fresh rolls from Thai Siam.
The afternoon keynote speaker was Lydia Brown, an activist from the East Coast who is API, transnational, autistic, and LGBTQ identified. Lydia spoke on the importance of intersectionality in regards to disability justice in all forms of activism, and the frequent marginalization that people with disabilities endure when they try to participate in other communities.
Afternoon workshops ran for 1.5 hours and consisted of the following:
o Coming Out After 30, facilitated by Seattle PFLAG
o LGBTQ Immigrant History in the US, facilitated by the JACL NY/SC and North Seattle College
o Asian Transgender Conversations, led by Olympia's Stonewall Youth
o How to be QAPI and Survive This Political Moment , facilitated by API Chaya
The day concluded just after 4pm. The emcee asked all participants to join hands in a circle and to take a moment to appreciate the safe and inclusive space that they had created together.
'Family 2.0' will be followed up by creating an API PFLAG group. With the help of other community organizations and Blaine United Methodist Memorial Church (which has a high volume of Nikkei), our hope is to be able to invite attendees from 'Family 2.0' as well as others who are interested to participate in a monthly API LGBTQ support group. If you are interested in joining, please email APILGBTQEvent@gmail.com
A huge thank you to all of our sponsors! Major donors include: National JACL Legacy Fund Grant, North Seattle College (NSC), NSC Student Leadership and Multicultural Programs , State Farm, and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture.
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