On Saturday, June 23, Asian and Pacific Islander (API) LGBT communities, joined by their allies, will host the first-ever Pride ASIA event. Advocates and supporters are called to Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s International District from noon to 6 p.m. to celebrate the LGBT communities’ Pacific heritage.
The purpose of Pride ASIA is to create safe space in celebrating the multi-cultural diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities through the Asian/Pacific Islander lens, according to host and organizer Aleksa Manila.
Charlette LeFevre, director of NW Museum of Legends & Lore and producer of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, approached Manila to host and organize the event and it was only natural for her to agree to it.
“Seattle’s queer communities are rich in history,” Manila said, “and Pride ASIA is one of many ways of honoring that.”
Manila also stated that the Queer API community struggles daily with internal and external cultural conflict reflective in family, religion, language, politics and immigration.
Victor Loo, director of recovery services at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), said that these issues are not isolated only to the API, but for everyone with overlapping ethnic and sexual identities. They are challenged to navigate both of these paths, which sometimes struggle to align. Loo pointed out that dealing with acceptance from families can be a tough one.
“Factors like the above from language barriers, cultural norms and filial responsibility become hurdles for us to complicate our journey towards living with full liberation to be who we are with our families,” Loo said.
Loo hopes that Pride ASIA will generate more awareness in the Asian Pacific American (APA) communities about the freedom to love regardless of sexual orientation. He said this event is the baby steps to move beyond silence and more toward acceptance from the community.
Event organizer Manila, a former Miss Gay Filipino and Miss Gay Seattle, has witnessed the love and support of the Filipino community of Seattle of LGBTQ communities. She is optimistic that Seattle is ready to re-ignite involvement and inspire community-building through this event as she sees support from organizations such as United Territories of Polynesian Islander Alliance (UTOPIA), Gay API International Council, ACRS and many more. Manila expects June 23 to be a historical landmark for the Queer API communities to honor its past, present and future.
“This event is not a fresh or new idea in Seattle’s API community,” Manila said. “For seven years, I was the drag queen host/emcee of the Karaoke Contest at Seattle’s Chinatown/International District Summer Festival—now known as the DragonFest.”
Loo also described Seattle as one of the more progressive cities in the country. He thinks that the communities will embrace this event to celebrate Pride ASIA. He said the APA/API and LGBT both have experienced discrimination in the past.
“Pride ASIA is not about being gay, it is more of a social justice issue, where we come together as one community to be inclusive of everyone,” Loo said. “When it comes to love and freedom, all of us should take an equal stand to be inclusive!”