First meeting set for Sunday, April 11th at 3:00 PM
Fellowship is important amongst Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. There is an innate trust that exists between us since we have learned to rely on each other – an unspoken understanding that we are each other’s universal family. This is because there is little support that is solely for AAPI families, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues. POC community resources are usually geared toward Black and/or Latinx communities. AAPI-specific help is incredibly scarce and our issues and needs are unique (and just as important).
Some overlook our need for help because “we don’t have it that bad cause we’re basically white.” This is a result of white supremacy that pits AAPI communities against other POC communities. It completely disregards the racism we have faced throughout our nation’s history. We are seen closer to being white, yet we are never really American or white enough. Due to the “model minority” myth, we are not seen as a community of color that has also suffered due to racism. Essentially that leaves us no place to feel like we belong or to find support beyond each other.
Many AAPI families come from very religious and conservative backgrounds due to tradition, culture, and colonialism. In my Filipino culture, there is a strong emphasis on Catholicism where they believe being LGBTQIA+ is a sin and a family shame. There is also a high degree of privacy within AAPI families, especially those that would cause conflict or unwanted attention. This can be a challenge for parents who love their LGBTQIA+ child and want to learn how to be supportive parents.
Support for LGBTQIA+ youth and parents are critical. Parents who are not knowledgeable about the LGBTQIA+ community are ill-equipped to be supportive if their child comes out to them. If there was a support group that had a space for parents of LGBTQIA+ AAPI members, it would help them navigate this moment with folks they already trust and relate with. AAPI families are very private so spaces that are predominantly non-AAPI are not safe spaces for these families to process and learn. Having a support group specifically for the AAPI community would allow more resources and help for those who need it, allow for collective venting, and provide a more open and understanding environment – ultimately benefiting the family and the LGBTQIA+ member.
It is this experience that speaks to why PFLAG San Diego County was committed to creating an ongoing support group for AAPI friends, families, and LGBTQIA+ folx. Over the past year, President Tiffany Gonzalez attended support groups of PFLAG API San Gabriel Valley where she was moved by the stories and love shared within a multi-generational and welcoming place truly representative of the community. Dozens of people attend, all prepared to listen and share openly in a space that respects their confidentiality and the culturally-specific nuances of their journeys. PFLAG SDC hopes to model this success and build that sense of support locally for our AAPI siblings because it is much needed and the community deserves this space.
Growing up, I only met a few other AAPI LGBTQIA+ people, and none of them were transgender like myself. It would be immensely helpful if there was a space open to the AAPI community for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and their families. To have a space centered on our unique needs would help so many youth and families who may be feeling alone in dealing with these issues. Just having an AAPI-centered space is the biggest, comforting factor for any of us seeking community support and belonging.
The first meeting for the new PFLAG San Diego County AAPI Support Group is on Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 3:00 PM PST. You can learn more at www.facebook.com/PFLAG.SDCo. Matthew Encarnacion’s mother, Zaneta Salde Encarnacion, and PFLAG San Diego County Board of Director President Tiffany Gonzalez will be present with other community members to facilitate conversations virtually.