JoJo Ty

Image description: JoJo is leaning against a wall, head tilted slightly and looking at the camera.

Image description: JoJo is leaning against a wall, head tilted slightly and looking at the camera.

JoJo (they/he) is an active APIENC volunteer and community leader. Jojo has brought their expertise on community walking tours to the Dragon Fruit Project Walking Tour and our Trans Justice Committee. More recently, they have helped create the graphics for our GROW Fundraising campaign!

Outside of APIENC, JoJo, who identifies as queer, trans, and Filipinx, is a student at City College of San Francisco and works as a Community Health Worker. JoJo’s own life experiences of navigating personal and institutional challenges have led to who they are today and have influenced their community work. Before APIENC, they were heavily involved in other LGBTQ spaces throughout San Francisco. They learned what resiliency looked like and the power of community by engaging with people of diverse identities and experiences. Those experiences helped JoJo gain a deeper understanding of themself and what it meant to have pride as a queer and trans person of color. JoJo started volunteering with APIENC because they wanted to build community with other QTAPI folx.

JoJo wants to see the LGBTQ API community uplifted through self-empowerment and liberation, especially in a world and in a time that attacks us with hate. Every interaction that JoJo has had, from meeting someone new to getting to know them better, has been memorable since they became involved with APIENC. Through the organization, they have gotten to know many leaders who do awesome work in the community and built meaningful relationships with them.

I’m transforming into a more powerful version of myself. Will you join me?

Image description: Jasmin is smiling and looking up.

Image description: Jasmin is smiling and looking up.

This is Jasmin Hoo, the new Community Organizer at APIENC. In this past month since I’ve started, I’ve been asked to reimagine what community care and accountability look like, stretched to practice new organizing skills, and encouraged to confront my own personal shadows that are standing between me and liberation. Everyday I literally feel myself transforming into a more powerful version of who I am. I am honored to be learning, growing and building with all of you, our APIENC community. APIENC is exactly the kind of community I needed when I first moved to San Francisco in 2005 and was exploring my own queer identity. Back then, I didn’t have any API queer and trans friends and mentors to safely explore and affirm my identity with. I didn’t have the opportunity to connect my personal liberation with the liberation of all. I didn’t have APIENC. Alone, it took longer for me to find myself, build my community, and feel empowered enough to be a leader in this work. Now, as the Community Organizer for APIENC, I am grateful to play a part in cultivating an intergenerational community of healing, growth and transformation.

This past year, APIENC has grown tremendously. From our 9th cohort of Summer Organizers, to our 300+ person Trans March contingent, to the launch of our Dragon Fruit Walking Tour—our community is abundant. Yet, political violence, xenophobia, gentrification, and transphobia are still hurting and isolating our people all the time. Now is the time for us to continue to rise up and grow new futures.

Jasmin is outdoors at a community garden holding a box of dead plant material while smiling toward the camera.

Jasmin is outdoors at a community garden holding a box of dead plant material while smiling toward the camera.

This is the final stretch of our annual fall fundraising campaign “grow: ourselves, our communities, our movements.” By Sunday, Nov. 18th, we need to raise $15,000 to ensure that our work continues. I am reaching out to you, our community, to ensure that APIENC can continue to be home for trans, non-binary, and queer API people to fight for the liberation of all. Will you support me by donating $30 by Nov. 18th, to grow ourselves, our communities, and our movements?

Here’s how you can grow with us:

Please also RSVP to our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch happening Sunday, November 18th in Oakland!

Love and solidarity,
Jasmin Hoo
APIENC Community Organizer

grow: ourselves, our communities, our movements

Image description: A graphic featuring a large tree with many pink fruits. Text reads “#growAPIENC, grow with APIENC: ourselves, our communities, our movements.”

Image description: A graphic featuring a large tree with many pink fruits. Text reads “#growAPIENC, grow with APIENC: ourselves, our communities, our movements.”

From November 1 – 18, grow with APIENC!

This Fall, we need to raise $15,000 to continue growing our work. From our 9th cohort of Summer Organizers, to our 300+ person Trans March contingent, to the launch of our Dragon Fruit Walking Tour, our work continues to reflect the abundance of our communities. We need YOUR help to make sure it continues. Can you donate $30 today?

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/apienc
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/apienc
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/apienc

graphic by Jojo Ty and Tori (@altoriego) !♥

Daring to Hope for a Just World: Reflections from the 2018 NQAPIA Conference

Image description: Yiann is standing while holding an electric guitar, smiling toward something to the right. (Photo credit: Corky Lee)

Image description: Yiann is standing while holding an electric guitar, smiling toward something to the right. (Photo credit: Corky Lee)

Yiann Chou, one of our APIENC volunteers, attended the 2018 NQAPIA National Conference this past July in San Francisco, CA. They also performed with their band, kapwa the band, at the Arts Showcase Night.

I felt grateful to be at NQAPIA, simply because it gave me an opportunity to witness queer & trans APIs in their power, and existing as their authentic selves. I was especially struck by this at the intersectionality panel, where I listened to the stories of people advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in Christian & Filipino spaces, LGBTQ+ Southeast Asian refugees combating police brutality and deportation, and Pacific Islanders fighting for queer and trans justice. Their stories brought me to silent tears, and I felt overwhelmed and raw, because their existences reminded me of what I haven’t dared to hope for.

Lately, I’ve been worn and tired of trying to find answers to injustice and trauma. For too long, I felt consumed with seeking resolution, going in circles in my mind about uphill battles: the pastors and leaders who will never be held accountable for attempting conversion therapy and for outing me, Christian institutions that won’t be held accountable for firing LGBT-affirming staff, friends and family members who will never affirm queer and trans people, a god who I don’t know truly cares about me or is real. I feel overwhelmed and tired just thinking about people whose lives have been taken or broken apart by police brutality, deportations, unfair housing conditions, lack of access to medical/ mental health resources.

I’ve been shelving my heavy emotions around these traumas, so that for a time so that I can recover and enjoy life. Life has been pretty good: I’m financially stable these days; I have the luxury of working part-time and working on music the rest of the time. I have friends who care about me, and my mental health has been drastically improving in the past year. I’m glad I’m taking the time to enjoy life and fill my headspace with things besides pain.

But sometimes I feel the temptation not just to shelve my feelings about injustice, but to pretend that I’m done with it. I’m reminding myself that I can enjoy my life, but also revisit and confront pain and injustice. I can’t pretend that I don’t need healing or that injustice doesn’t continue to affect people around me.

I still value the time I take to recover from engaging deeply with injustice, but I don’t want to give into the desire to forget about it. I’m challenging myself to stay connected to the hope evident in the resilience of LGBTQ+ APIs around me, and I’m grateful that NQAPIA provided a space for me to find that hope. I’m challenging myself stay hopeful that a just world is possible, not just for myself, but for everyone who needs it.

(Fun fact: I also performed at the NQAPIA arts & cultural night with my band, kapwa the band. People got up and started dancing during our set, it was a good time! Here’s a cute video of us from that night.)

Nancy Chen

Image description: Nancy is outside, smiling toward the camera. She is wearing a red floral shirt. In back of her is a pond with plantlife growing in it.

Image description: Nancy is outside, smiling toward the camera. She is wearing a red floral shirt. In back of her is a pond with plantlife growing in it.

Nancy Chen (she/her) has been volunteering with APIENC since 2015. She started off transcribing for the Dragon Fruit Project and joined the Core committee in 2017, APIENC’s leadership body. Nancy identifies as queer and non-binary.

Outside of APIENC, Nancy works with elementary and middle schoolers at the Chinatown YMCA, just up the block from the APIENC office! Back in her high school years, Nancy was involved with the youth program at the Chinatown Community Development Center and was previously involved with Reading Partners doing literacy work with children. Nancy aspired to be a freelance writer, so she studied English Literature at Smith College and graduated back in 2015. While looking for work as a freelance writer, Nancy did admin work but found it challenging. Eventually, she realized she missed being in Chinatown, so she decided to shift her work back to her community. She’s dabbled in some arts/arts education non-profit work around SF and been around the Chinatown community in various capacities. Her experience helped politicize her understanding around access to affordable housing and safe living conditions for low-income immigrant families. Nancy found herself doing an AmeriCorps term at the Y, and now she is here!

When Nancy started volunteering with APIENC, she was a “smol bb queer” and super scared of joining because that meant coming to terms with her queerness. She was tasked with transcribing a Dragon Fruit Project interview for the very first time. Nancy remembers how it was really impactful to transcribe someone’s story. That interview resonated so deeply with her own experiences and helped her realize that she made the right choice in filling out that volunteer interest form. Nancy’s love of APIENC has continued on to this day! She loves fighting for collective liberation, celebrating resilience and being in community with wonderful folks who share these values. Her hopes for the LGBTQ API community are that we continue thriving.

Want to know a fun fact about Nancy? Here are three! Nancy is a Virgo and a Hufflepuff. Also, she really doesn’t like Oreos.

Grounding Ourselves in Each Other: Yuan and Teo’s Summer Reflections

Image description: 2018 APIENC Summer Organizers (from left to right) Yuan, Paige, and Kevin are outdoors and smiling toward the camera

Image description: 2018 APIENC Summer Organizers (from left to right) Yuan, Paige, and Kevin are outdoors and smiling toward the camera

Reflections from Yuan Wang, 2018 APIENC Summer Organizer (they/them pronouns):

When I shared the first story that came to mind of feeling deeply “unwelcome”, my shoulders felt heavy and my eyes lowered to the ground. “We’re doing that one,” a new friend next to me replied, their voice gentle with compassion for my sadness and anger for my pain. “We’ll make it better this time.” I looked up; everyone in our group, locking eyes with one another, nodded.

We were a small group of five participating in APIENC’s larger summer Leadership Exchange, immersed in an hour-long workshop on “radical welcome”, a core APIENC practice that asserts that, in the spaces we make, we all belong, that we deserve to feel wanted, and safe, worth supporting and worth holding onto, and that we have the power to help others feel cared for and held. Prior to that weekend, the five of us hadn’t met yet. That weekend, we sat together and invited each other to step into some of our most joyful and most challenging memories, seeking to understand, together, how we could transform them into healing and action for the future.

Following our friends in other groups, we walked through a short skit that mimicked that old memory of mine, and I felt myself tremble, reliving this with others. We then performed another iteration of that same moment, but transformed it into a radically-welcoming version, nurtured by the training we received and the deep kindness cocooning the room around us.

These feelings of challenging myself to build trust with folks I hadn’t met before (and finding that challenge becoming easier, and easier), of participating in groups eager to reflect on how our own growth journeys help grow our movement spaces, and of learning and practicing to build rooms, moments, and relationships that nurture the sense of belonging of everyone involved; these were present for me at each turn this summer, guiding me gently.

Image description: group selfie of 30+ volunteers, supporters, friends and summer organizers at the 2018 Summer Organizer Graduation. Julie holds up sign that reads "thank you". Paige holds up sign that reads "over $10k raised".

Image description: group selfie of 30+ volunteers, supporters, friends and summer organizers at the 2018 Summer Organizer Graduation. Julie holds up sign that reads “thank you”. Paige holds up sign that reads “over $10k raised”.

As an APIENC summer organizer, my core responsibilities included reviewing and strengthening APIENC’s volunteer engagement system, with the goals of being able to better onboard folks new to APIENC and support our community members’ personal development and growth as organizers. I learned that the past two years had been full of challenges for the APIENC community, as more and more folks reached out to APIENC to find more supportive, loving, and safer connections with other queer and trans API folks. APIENC itself has started to imagine how to shift some of its capacity from collecting intergenerational oral history through the Dragon Fruit Project towards building a network of care through the Dragon Fruit Network. It is so critical, especially for our communities, to intentionally create room for folks who are newer to voice why they’re here, what they’re looking for, and where they come from.

For me, having been born in nearby Fremont but having spent most of my life in New Jersey and New York, this meant reaching out to a community of folks I hadn’t had the chance to meet before, holding the hope of growing with each other and trusting that we had each come to APIENC in search of a space and learning from each person’s deep wisdoms, and building relationships with each other that are rooted in kindness and hope. I’m so thankful for the many meals, time in the sun, gentle walks and sits, and bubble tea (so much…bubble tea…) we shared!

One new friend I spoke to shared how, after recently moving to the United States with very few friends in the Bay and struggling with feelings of isolation and separation from their home, they felt such joy at their first APIENC event, gardening with others at Spiral Garden in Berkeley; they laughed, their eyes full of sunlight, as they remembered the feelings of digging their hands gently into soil, recalling that, even with the language barrier, they felt deeply connected, and hopeful about their future in the Bay.

These eight weeks were not always easy, not for me or for any of us. I struggled with my mental health, with balancing work and devoting time to rest myself.t times there were deep-rooted fears surrounding my gender identity and expression. Friends among us in our community faced challenges with housing and food security, with ICE and the effects of incarceration (#KeepPJHome!), with isolation, and with so much more. I want to hold onto and continue reflecting on it all. I want to remember having a homemade lunch in the afternoon sun with MLin, being a silly tender bun with Sammie, listening to the other summer organizers in the office talking, laughing, and being, standing in a circle with the LEX family and watching as we poured vinegar into each others’ jars and speaking our intentions into existence, and I couldn’t help but smile, seeing the joy in the rooms we created, together. I feel such a deep spring of hope now, just knowing that these folks, that you, exist, and are here. So much is only possible because we are.

Reflections from Teo Saragi, 2018 APIENC Summer Organizer (they/them pronouns):

Image description: group selfie of smiling participants of APIENC's Leadership Exchange. Folx are holding mason jars full of burdock and vinegar.

Image description: group selfie of smiling participants of APIENC’s Leadership Exchange. Folx are holding mason jars full of burdock and vinegar.

On one sunny day in July, twenty lovely humans who were part of APIENC’s Summer Leadership Exchange gather in a circle outside the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library. In each of our palms, we hold small glass mason jars filled with slices of burdock–a medicinal root. We had collectively sliced the burdock just a few minutes ago using shared knives and cutting boards. We begin to pass around a large bottle of apple cider vinegar, each person in the circle placing their jar of burdock on the ground so that they can pour vinegar for the person next to them. We pour enough into each other’s jars to submerge the burdock completely. As we pour, we each state a personal intention that we hope to enact outside of the space. We repeat the process until each person holds a jar of vinegary burdock; a month from now, we’ll individually open our respective jars and be greeted with herbal vinegar.

This collective experience of creating medicine, from the cutting and feeling, to the tasting and pouring, exemplifies the deep feeling of interconnectedness that APIENC cultivates. To me, community organizing is about learning skills and tools for personal and collective healing. It’s about being in dialogue with yourself and others about how to transform harmful conditions and build worlds where we can exist fully and thrive unapologetically.

I kept this in mind as I worked as a Joint Summer Organizer with Asian Prisoner Support Committee to mobilize against the prison-industrial complex through re-entry support, educational materials, and community events. As the summer began, I quickly realized that I had been neglecting personal healing throughout my organizing experiences in college even as I passionately advocated for collective healing. I accepted that I needed to listen to what my body and heart needed at this point in my life.

This summer was a major period of transition for me as I entered post-college life and moved to the Bay Area. I came into APIENC not only as a Summer Organizer, but also as a person searching for QTAPI community. In order to sustain my activism and organizing, I needed to find a space of healing and rejuvenation that would help nourish my tired student activist soul.

Image description: 2018 summer organizers Teo and Julie smile at the camera. Teo is holding a postcard that reads "#KeepPJHome". Behind them stand Borey PJ Ai and Eddie Zheng of APSC

Image description: 2018 summer organizers Teo and Julie smile at the camera. Teo is holding a postcard that reads “#KeepPJHome”. Behind them stand Borey PJ Ai and Eddie Zheng of APSC

During my summer at APIENC, I was encouraged to not hide behind productivity. I was pushed to take time to truly build trust and deep, vulnerable relationships. I engaged in difficult conversations and experienced moments of discomfort. I experienced movement-building in so many ways, from sharing stories with other APIENC summer team folx, to chanting at the top of my lungs at Trans March, to mobilizing people to #KeepPJHome. I was reminded about the critical need to donate time, energy, and financial resources to grassroots and community-based organizations to sustain our struggle towards liberation.

Moving beyond this summer, I hope to continue building QTAPI power and community in the Bay by remaining an active APIENC member. I’m also working to intentionally prioritize my creative organizing work by doing things like facilitating filmmaking and storytelling workshops for Southeast Asian youth from Oakland. As I continue my activism in the Bay, I’m building upon legacies and generations of people whom I’m currently surrounded by, as well as those who have come before me. I also hope to continue fighting for the accessibility, visibility, and safety of QTAPI and QTPOC spaces outside major metropolitan areas. I’m particularly thinking about the community I come from and grew up in, the Inland Empire in Southern California. I’m so grateful that I found my way to APIENC, and I’m constantly thinking about folx who have little to no networks of community support that run as deep and strong as APIENC.

While my Summer Organizer experience at APIENC has concluded, I will still be around to power our work. To everyone who was a part of my summer experience, thank you for reminding me to be tender and for challenging me to prioritize abundance over scarcity. I appreciate each of you so much for holding me as I learn and grow with patience and kindness.

From September 8 – 16, We Rise for Climate Justice

Image description: A big group selfie of APIENC's TTAC cohort, along with the text: "Pacific Islander, Asian, trans, and queer people are directly impacted by climate change. Join us Sept 8 - Sept 16 To rise for climate justice"

Image description: A big group selfie of APIENC’s TTAC cohort, along with the text: “Pacific Islander, Asian, trans, and queer people are directly impacted by climate change. Join us Sept 8 – Sept 16 To rise for climate justice”

On September 8th, thousands of people will be in the streets of San Francisco rising for climate justice and pushing elected leaders to be accountable to frontline communities. Will you be one of them?

The effects of climate change are already happening around the world. Especially as Asian and Pacific Islander people, we see impacts in our local communities and in our homelands. From wildfires to typhoons to floods to constant extraction, our communities are being displaced and destroyed by climate disasters and the institutions and people that cause them. Enough is enough.

Now is the time to act! We are rising for climate justice, for workers rights, for immigrant rights, and for trans liberation. On September 8th, people from around the nation will be taking the streets at the March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice. The March is then followed by several days of activities designed to educate and inspire our communities and to influence the government and industry leaders who will be meeting Sept. 13 – 14 at Moscone Center at the invitation of Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

APIENC is building a community of Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ folks to learn together, build relationships, and figure out where and how to plug into the local, national, and global conversation for climate justice! Want to join us in taking action? Click this form to sign up for our list. Here are 4 ways to plug in:

1. Join our last Think and Take Action Cohort, to meet others and prep for the week of action!
When: Sept. 1st, 12pm-2pm (it’s a potluck!)
Where: Near Glen Park BART (address sent upon RSVPing)
RSVP to Alma (almasoongi@gmail.com)
Access: 8 step staircase and no elevator, one gender neutral bathroom, no pets

2. Come to the Queers 4 Climate Justice Art Build, to make a cool sign and connect with QTs
When: Sept. 5th, 6pm-8pm
Where: Strut, 470 Castro Street (across from Castro Theater).
RSVP to Alma (almasoongi@gmail.com) and at the Facebook Event
Access: Strut is accessible on the 3rd floor via an ADA elevator. Paint and markers contain strong chemical scents, but the space is ventilated.

3. Attend the Rise for Climate Justice March, in the Pacific Islander or Asian contingents*!
RSVP at the general link!
* Note: the Pacific Islander Contingent will be at the front of the march, with the larger Indigenous contingent. The Asian contingent will be following, as part of the larger front-line communities contingent
For the Asian Contingent: RSVP on Facebook or to Alma almasoongi@gmail.com, (415) 203-9930 and Clara Qin, (734) 223-5115, claralqin@gmail.com. Meeting at Embarcadero BART, Drumm Street exit, 10am
For the Pacific Islander Contingent: Vince, vac2sfo@icloud.com, (415) 217-9128 (texting is best). Meeting at 4 Embarcadero Plaza, 9:15am for Interfaith Prayer
Queers 4 Climate Justice Contingent: Matt Bautista, mattbautista@gmail.com, (415) 712-6229. Meeting at Sue Bierman Park, 216 Drumm Street, 9:30 a.m.

4. Come to Amazing Events, Sept. 9th-16th!
There are many great workshops, caucuses, tours, and educational discussions happening the week of the People’s’ Summit. TTAC members will be attending and leading some of these events below: