Follow Friday: Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ Voices
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are the fastest growing minority group in the nation (NQAPIA). According to a Williams Institute 2013 report, an estimated 325,000 or 2.8% of all Asian and Pacific Islander (API) adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). This #FollowFriday we highlight just a few of the many LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (and one Canadian) who are a part of our movement.
Strategist, politico and coalition builder Gregory Cendana is the first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement. He is the immediate past Chair of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, co-founder of the diversity initiative Inclusv, Treasurer for the Labor Coalition for Community Action and is the youngest General Board member of the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions representing 12 million workers.
He also co-authored Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) Behind Bars: Exposing the School to Prison to Deportation Pipeline, a first of its kind report on the impact mass incarceration and mass criminalization in the AAPI community.
Elisha Lim is a graphic novelist and claymation animator who can’t ever leave Toronto, although they have tried, with Singapore, Berlin, London, the east coast of Australia and Montreal. They have 100 Crushes but they always come home. They decorate their most heartfelt stories with embellished frames and intimately detailed portraits. They also curate, lecture, jury and direct festivals to promote themes close their heart: radical inclusion and respect around race and gender.
Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media entrepreneur whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder and CEO of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America; and the founder of #EmergingUS, a media start-up that lives at the intersection of race, immigration, and identity in a multicultural America. #EmergingUS is the first-ever media property owned by an undocumented immigrant.
In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant.
Urooj Arshad is the Associate director of International Youth Health and Rights at Advocates for Youth. She manages a project of the International Division that builds the capacity of youth-driven organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to empower young people as strong advocates within their own countries and at international forums on reproductive and sexual health and rights of youth, especially young women and LGBTQ youth.
Ben de Guzman
Ben de Guzman has been a leading voice for over a dozen years both locally and nationally on a range of issues in the AAPI and LGBT communities, including: civil rights, veterans and immigration policy; leadership training and development; and advocacy and organizing.
Ben has worked for LGBT advocacy organizations including SAGE and NQAPIA. Ben also previously served as the National Coordinator for the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE), where he ran the successful legislative campaign to achieve payments for and recognize the military service of Filipinos who fought under the United States during World War II
He serves on the Executive Committee for the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project.
Farzana Doctor is a Canadian novelist and social worker. She has published two novels to date, and won the 2011 Dayne Ogilvie Grant from the Writers’ Trust of Canada for an emerging lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender writer.
Her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, was also a nominee for the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Lesbian Fiction, and was announced as the winner of the award on June 4, 2012.
Born in Zambia to Dawoodi Bohra Muslim expatriate parents from India, she immigrated to Canada with her family in the early 1970s. In addition to her writing career, Doctor works as a psychotherapist, coordinates a regular reading series in Toronto’s Brockton Village neighbourhood, and coproduced Rewriting The Script: A Loveletter to Our Families, a documentary film about the family relationships of LGBT people in Toronto’s South Asian immigrant communities
Andy Marra is the Communications Manager for the Arcus Foundation. Prior to Arcus, she was the Public Relations Manager for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Previously, she was Co-Director of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development and Senior Media Strategist for GLAAD. Andy has also served on boards and advisory councils, including Chinese for Affirmative Action, Funding Exchange, Human Rights Campaign, the National Campaign to End the Korean War, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Andy has been honored by the White House for her contributions to the LGBT movement, profiled in The Advocate’s “Forty Under 40″ and the inaugural Trans 100, and listed as one of The Huffington Post’s “Most Compelling LGBT People.” She is also the past recipient of the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Award, the Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award, and was honored by the City of New York for her work in the community.
Born & raised in San Francisco and now established in New York, Jes Tom is a fresh voice in stand up comedy.
Their first 30 minute comedy special, Cold Brew, was recorded live in August 2016 at Astoria’s QED: A Place to Show and Tell. Cold Brew is an elegy for the Fuckboi. It’s a cautionary lamentation about being Queer and getting your heart broken in the age of “Love is Love is Love.” Through stand up, storytelling, and uncomfortably public vulnerability, COLD BREW tackles “falling in love,” astrology, interracial relationships, Pokémon, gay porn, and the inevitable fall of society as we know it
Jes Tom holds a BA in Theatre from Smith College. They have completed the Meisner Acting program at Maggie Flanigan Studio.