Anna Lei

Image description: A queer Asian smiles and looks into the camera, wearing a beanie and brown jacket with layers inside. Background is Lake Tahoe and mountains out of focus.

ANNA a APIENC intern alumni of 2016, is now an active volunteer with the Dragon Fruit Project Committee and part of APIENC Core! She identifies as a Queer Asian American person of color. Through APIENC’s summer internship, Anna was able to practice leadership and deepen her commitment to radically loving her community. During that summer, the CAA office was under renovation, so her summer intern cohort worked out of a temporary space in the Chinatown YMCA. Anna has a lot of fond memories of the different misadventures that occurred during that scrappy but fun time such as meetings in the “stairwell office” and park. This year, Anna is on the internship committee and is very excited to help pick the next Summer Organizer cohort.

Anna continues to volunteer at APIENC because it is her main political home. In her own words, “APIENC offers a really welcoming feeling and it makes me feel warm and connected to other people. Other times in the world, people will judge your worth for many different reasons, but at APIENC, we welcome and believe in the potential of everyone. There are a lot of places you can volunteer, but APIENC is different because it’s a home and it’s wholesome.”

Outside of APIENC, Anna is the Operations Coordinator for Chinese Progressive Association (CPA). During high school, Anna was part of CPA’s Youth Movement of Justice Organizing (Youth MOJO) and helped found the Gender, Sexuality, and Diversities Program (GSD). She still volunteers with GSD today and is proud to help give queer, trans, and questioning youth a space to learn about their history and bond together. Her family is mostly low income and working class Chinese immigrants, so CPA’s work with their grassroots membership base is very personal to her. It was also during Youth MOJO that Anna first heard about APIENC.

Anna hopes that “one day the LGBTQ community can live and be affirmed in our families and communities as our full authentic selves.

Fun fact: Anna’s favorite winter fruit is the persimmon. Anna is also the volunteer coordinator for the APIQWTC banquet coming up in April! If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact her at

Join us on 3/24 – Trans&GNC Rights and Empowerment Day!

Group of APIENC-affiliated folks posing on a street corner with fists up and holding up signs at 2018 Trans March

In January 2016, a small group of trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) community members convened our first ever Trans Justice Working Group. We wanted more space and time to plan events for our people to learn, eat, come together, and be joyful. Fast forward to today, I’ve been constantly amazed by the people who have come to grow our organization via our Trans Justice Initiative.

As we continue to empower and build the leadership of the trans and gender nonconforming Asian and Pacific Islander community, APIENC is hosting a TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day on March 24th, 2018! It’s a full day centering our TGNC Asian and Pacific Islander community, full of workshops that emphasize on our rights, health, and empowerment. We’ll also have an art station, food, and a clothing swap, for people to drop by at any time.

I’m really excited about this event because this is the type of gathering that our small group could only dream of two years ago; and now it’s happening! I want to personally invite you, and any other TGNC folks of color that you know. The TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day will be held on Saturday, March 24th, from 11am-5pm at the APIENC Office (17 Walter U Lum Pl. San Francisco, CA 94108). We’ll be building relationships, working with great groups to share knowledge, and cultivating community. I hope you’ll join me!

RSVP here by Sat. March 17th so we know you’re coming! 

Text reads: “APIENC Presents TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day. DIY crafts and zines, free food, workshops with community partners, clothing swap, resources on local services. Free admission open to all.”

What: APIENC TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day
When: Sat. 3/24, 11 am – 5 pm
Location: APIENC Office (17 Walter U Lum Pl. San Francisco, CA 94108)

Note: Participants do NOT have to attend the full day! You are welcome the full day, but should feel free to drop in to the sessions you are most interested in.
11am-12pm – Intros and Welcome
12pm-1:30pm – Workshops Round #1
1:30pm-2:30pm – Food and Tabling
2:30pm-4pm – Workshops Round #2
4pm-5pm – Closing
ONGOING – Art station, clothing swap, and chill zone!

Transit: We are located a 13-minute walk from Montgomery Bart. Close Muni lines include the 1 and the 8.
Space Access: The building is wheelchair accessible, and all bathrooms are gender neutral. There is an elevator and stairs to move between the ground floor and the third floor. The building is not fully fragrance free, but we do ask that for our events, folks come fragrance free (for more information, please see:

Don’t forget to RSVP by Sat. 3/17!

For questions, please contact

What is My Movement: Reflections on my Journey in America

In 2017, APIENC hosted Panpan, a fellow who came to work with us from China through the Lingnan W.T. Chan Fellowship at UC Berkeley’s Public Service Center. During her 5 months at APIENC, Panpan facilitated APIENC’s first Chinese Study Group, created case studies on the LGBTQ movement in China, and built deep relationships with our community members. This reflection is adapted from Panpan’s final speech at her closing reception.

Hello everyone. I am Panpan, the 2017 Chan Fellow at APIENC. I am from China, and I will go back to China soon. When I look back at the past four months, I can’t believe I grew up so much here.

My time here has been an exploration. It has been an exploration of myself. I remember the moments I went to protests and rallies, which helped me understand the struggles and fights of people of different colors and races. I remember, the moments I facilitated a Chinese Study Group at APIENC, in which I shared about the LGBTQ movement in China. I remember, the moments I had weekly check-ins with MLin, and shared what I learned that week. It was in these moments that I realized for the first time, I am a Chinese Queer.

Image description: Panpan, center, stands looking to the right. Two individuals sit to her left, laughing. Picture is from APIENC’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch, Nov 2017.

Before I came to America, I never thought that I had a home country. For me, it’s a man’s China, not my China. For me, China has many marginalized communities that I share similar life experiences with, but they are segregated from the mainstream world. I never felt that I had a home country. My experience here pushed me to reflect and reflect – “What does it mean to be Chinese? What does it mean to be a Chinese queer?”

One day, I visited the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond and listened to a speech from Betty Sorskin about World War Ⅱ. During the war, because there was a need for labor, the government called on women to work, and they were able to enter the job force. But after the war, when men came back from the battlefield, most women were pressured to go back home and give up their jobs to men. I suddenly realized, what happened during the war in America is exactly what happened in Chinese history, and what is happening now. I suddenly knew why I was here, why I needed to learn about social movements in America: although we experience different conditions and violence, the logic of oppression is the same everywhere. After realizing the similarities between the two countries, the same can also be applied to queer and feminist theory! By understanding and learning in the U.S., I would have a deeper understanding about China, and would be able to reflect about the social movement in China.

These days, I reflect on the question, “What is movement?” I believe movement is about who we are and who we want to be. It is deeply rooted in our daily life. At APIENC, one of my main internship goals was to fundraise. Donna, my host mom, wanted to help me with my fundraising so she pushed me to share my story at our family dinner, in front of her sisters and father. It was such a scary challenge, but I knew it was important. Not just for money, it was important to have conversation with older generations and this was also my first time to come out to them. I began to share what I did and learned at APIENC, my connection with my community, and what it means to be a Chinese queer for me. I became very emotional and began to cry, but I continued to finish my story. After my story, we began to discuss LGBTQ issues around the dinner table. After our dinner, I saw an envelope on the table, with my name on it. When I opened it, I saw their donation and a card, they wrote on it, “Panpan, we are so proud of you.” I cried again! It was the night before an important presentation and even though I should have practiced my presentation, I just cried almost all night and texted MLin, Amy, and my other friends about what happened. I felt so powerful at that time, and I realized what is my movement, and why the personal is political. My movement is rooted in my daily life. That means I value my life experiences, I reflect on my life experiences, and I am honest to myself about who I am.

Image Description: Participants from the APIENC Chinese Study Group take a selfie together; from left to right, 8 people smile towards the camera.

So reflecting back on my question, “What does it mean to be a Chinese queer?” I defined myself as a queer three years ago, but I never truly accepted myself until my time in the U.S. To be a Chinese queer is about acceptance. I realized that the more I spoke about myself, who I am and where I come from, I felt empowered and powerful in sharing with others.

11/20 Trans Day of Resilience – Honoring Our Thriving Selves Now

Image Description: Four black & brown people are running on clouds towards the right, the first is riding a tricycle. Text reads, “Make Trans Dreams A Reality.” Artwork by Colin Laurel,

As we’re looking to uplift Trans Day of Resilience and counter the violence that our TGNC communities face, we want to provide a space where our TGNC folks can come together and honor our thriving trans selves now.

Our Trans Justice Working Group is hosting a Black & Pink holiday card writing party on Monday 11/20 [Trans Day of Resilience and Remembrance] from 6pm – 8pm.

What: APIENC Black&Pink Holiday Card Writing Party
When: Monday, 11/20 6:00 pm – 8 pm
Where: APIENC Office, Community Room (17 Walter U Lum Place, SF, CA 94108) Food will be provided by APIENC. Please bring a potluck item to share, if you can!
Accessibility: The building is ADA-accessible. Please also come scent and fragrance-free! Please do not wear perfume or cologne or other scents before coming. You can read more about how to be scent and fragrance free here:

Image description: A graphic with the gradient from pink to black with a logo on the right. The text on left reads “Black and Pink. Prison Abolition Now!”

Whatever holidays you may or may not celebrate this time of year, folks incarcerated are often denied the ability to celebrate their traditions in the ways they choose, whether their desire be to celebrate the returning of light for Solstice, the miracle of Hanukkah, the birth story of Jesus, the Black radical tradition of Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, or something else. We’re hoping that the cards we write, will bring moments of joy, connection and hope to currently incarcerated LGBTQ folks. And we’ll be giving a clear message to the prison system that we’re watching the ways they target and inflict violence upon low-income LGBTQ and/or HIV+ people of color!

To join us next Monday, please email MLin at to let us know the following:

  • You’re coming (and if you’re bringing someone)
  • What potluck item you’re bringing (or not)
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Accessibility concerns if you have any

“Let our love quake open any shackle.” This #TDOR, we’re not just mourning our dead. We’re sharing art made with love, for and by our living trans family. Join us:

Text from “Prayer” by xoai pham,

Check out more art from Forward Together and the TDoR artist collective at

grow: ourselves, our communities, our movements. #GROWAPIENC towards $15,000!

Image description: On right, mini people are arranged into the formation of a tree. On left, text reads "#GROWAPIENC, grow ourselves, our communities, our movements. 30 Days to raise $15,000!"

Image description: On right, mini people are arranged into the formation of a tree. On left, text reads “#GROWAPIENC, grow ourselves, our communities, our movements. 30 Days to raise $15,000!”

In this political moment we’re fighting isolation, burn-out, and increased attacks on our communities. We know our continued work towards safety and liberation will take stretching and growing in bold ways–in ways we cannot yet anticipate. APIENC is a home for folks to be and grow into their full selves, as we collectively grow towards full, abundant, and interdependent movements. This is why, for our annual fall fundraising campaign, which was launched October 19th and runs through November 19th, we’ve chosen the theme “grow: ourselves, our communities, our movements.” 

Since APIENC was started, we’ve moved from being a coalition that included transgender, queer, and allied API people, to a TGNC and queer-led organization. We’ve also moved from 90% foundation funding to over 60% individual donations. These shifts required specific and intentional changes over time. Some of these changes include: moving away from SF Pride and putting our energies into organizing for Trans March; creating volunteer-led committees for young people, TGNC people, and queer folks to strategize and build programs; hiring TGNC staff; and cultivating partnerships with strong movement organizations! We have become a training hub for young people, a reflection space for activists of all ages, and a convener of LGBTQ API folks working to build a new and intersectional world. In just our past year, we’ve seen how the average attendance at our events has gone from ~25 to ~70! You can see even more updates at this link.

This fall, we have 30 days to raise $15,000 to ensure our work continues. Will you grow with us? Donate at (make sure to choose “API Equality – Northern California” in the drop-down menu)

Thank you for uplifting our work, being in community, and growing with us! Please join us for our annual Community Brunch on Sun. 11/19 to celebrate and appreciate our volunteers. In addition, we’ll be closing out our fall fundraising campaign. You can RSVP here for further details and to let us know you’re coming.

Wai Yee Poon

Image description: Wai Yee, wearing black, faces forward at the camera with drawn animal ears and whiskers.

Image description: Wai Yee, wearing black, faces forward at the camera with drawn animal ears and whiskers.

WAI YEE POON, a self described tender hard femme, is an active APIENC volunteer as well as a community organizer for Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA).

Growing up with immigrant working-class parents, Wai Yee witnessed inequality in the way her family was treated at work, at school, and also at home. And yet, when she went back to Hong Kong, she realized how much privilege they had as someone who had American money and spoke English fluently. This motivated Wai Yee to spend a lot of time investigating the roots of this contradiction.

In college, Wai Yee’s interest led her to study translation. When she started working with community organizations, she was introduced to language justice. Wai Yee was drawn to how language justice is rooted in community-based knowledge and practices. This language justice framework continues to ground her in how she does her organizing work today.

While in New York, Wai Yee volunteered for CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, which led her to her first organizing position. The experience further connected her to the larger social justice community in NYC and taught her everything they know today about how to doorknock, phonebank, and facilitate meetings. Through developing relationships with CAAAV members and Chinatown tenants, Wai Yee saw the complexities of this work and how our past, present, and future are connected beyond this land and her current imaginings of community. These experiences and relationships to everyone she’s met and built community with propel her to continue expanding.

As a current APIENC volunteer, Wai Yee loves the people and ability to support her friends in their work and hopes “for us to be free and find love however we may define it.” One of her most memorable moments at APIENC was singing “Reflection” with MLin and other APIENC volunteers at the APIENC Quarterly Potluck this past March.

Fun Fact: Wai Yee is very excited for the South Korean version of “Criminal Minds.”

Save the Date: Resilience Archives Storytelling Showcase + Visibility Project Book Launch

Image Description: Center image - a line of people stand behind a banner that reads "We're ASIANS, Gay & Proud." The people have their fists in the air. Original image credit: A Gay Left Journal, No. 6, Daniel C. Tsang, 1980

Image Description: Center image – a line of people stand behind a banner that reads “We’re ASIANS, Gay & Proud.” The people have their fists in the air. Original image credit: A Gay Left Journal, No. 6, Daniel C. Tsang, 1980

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017
6:00 – 8:30 pm

The Resilience Archives is a collection of personal photos, fliers, interviews, and historical documents from the LGBTQIA+ Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has been created as an act of resilience to ensure the stories are told and made accessible to the public at large. The This is a collaboration between APIENC (API Equality – Northern California), the Visibility Project, and artists Mia Nakano & Kat Evasco.

RSVP Here For Your Tickets!

On June 6th, we will publicly debut the Resilience Archives digital history tour. The Resilience Archives Storytelling showcase will consist of LGBTQ AAPI storytellers portraying curated selections from the Resilience Archives stories such as: “How did GAPA (Gay Asian Pacific Alliance) or APIQWTC (Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community) start? Who was the founder of what is now SOMArts? How did the first Chinese American families fare after moving out of SF Chinatown? What’s “coming out” like today versus 30 years ago?”

Large format portraits from the Visibility Project, a national portrait and oral history collection focused on queer Asian American women and trans community, will be exhibited in the space. Short films from the oral history interviews of the Visibility Project and Dragon Fruit Project will be available in intimate listening stations. Personal archives from community members and organizations will also be featured.

This dynamic evening includes a book launch from the Visibility Project! The book launch features a photo book that highlights portraits from Mia Nakano’s 10 years of traveling throughout the country photographing and interviewing the queer Asian American Women and trans community. The book will also include a curriculum bringing in participant voices from their interviews.

The Resilience Archives showcase will be a powerful community space, filled with the words, works, and histories of queer and trans Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These community members have played and continue to play key roles in what it means to be Asian-American, built progressive social justice movements, uplifted undocumented and immigrant roots, and addressed the complicated intersections of coming out in present day America.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017
Reception (6:00 – 8:30pm)
Performance Showcase (6:30 – 7:15pm)

Intersection for the Arts
901 Mission Street #306
San Francisco, CA 94103
ADA Accessible
ASL Interpreter available upon request

Mia Nakano, Visibility Project
APIENC (API Equality – Northern California)

Kat Evasco, Guerrilla Rep

RSVP Here For Your Tickets!

This event is free, however we are taking sliding scale donations to help raise funds for an Oakland production of this showcase. Artists, Mia Nakano and Kat Evasco, are recipients of the East Bay Fund for Artists, which means that all donations will be matched up to $3100! Please help us meet our goal!

We will have a list of donors who have donated prior to the event. We will also be taking cash, check, and credit donations the day of. We encourage you to get tickets and books before the event, to help us track attendance and quantities of books needed to print.

All donations for tickets and books are tax deductible, you will receive an email mail notification of your donation in a few weeks.