AAPIP Voices

AAPI LGBTs and Social Justice: Walking New Paths

On June 26, most of the attention of the LGBT community focused on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Activists celebrated the Court’s decision that overturned both Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act and remanded Proposition 8 back to the lower courts. 

Just a few blocks away, however, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) hand-delivered 2,700 postcards to the U.S. Senate calling on them to pass comprehensive immigration reform in accordance with our Statement of Principles.  When congratulated by supporters of marriage equality in the offices of the Senators we visited, we politely said thank you, and gracefully moved the conversation back to immigration.  In doing so, we prove the movement can (and must) walk and chew gum at the same time.

Our community is made up of a mix of identities, perspectives, challenges, and aspirations. Our fight for social justice must reflect our diversity.  We cannot celebrate marriage equality victories and ignore the real threats posed by inaction on immigration reform.  Let’s oppose racism and homophobia, xenophobia and transphobia.

It takes bravery to redefine our movements as more than single-identity issues.  It takes creativity to find and build cutting-edge coalitions that ground our work.  However, our work is driven by personal necessity and sustained by the realization that our community lives complex lives.  Our social justice work needs to reflect that reality. 

Ben de Guzman is the Co-Director of Programs for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA).  He leads the programmatic work for NQAPIA’s federation of Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations across the United States.