POP! People over Pride: Training Camp for LGBTQ API Youth – APPLY TODAY

POP! Camp is BACK! This summer, APIENC and NQAPIA are hosting our second People Over Pride (POP!) Camp for LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Youth.

POP! Camp is an intensive 4-day LGBTQ API training camp for youth ages 14-20 to grow into organizers and activist. We’ll be talking about what it means to create change, and how to do it in our current contexts. Driven by our legacies of LGBTQ API resilience and resistance, POP! Camp participants will learn political history, build deep relationships, and gain valuable organizing skills. Our goal is to support and sustain leaders who will directly apply their training through initiatives for immigrant rights, racial justice, trans justice, and other LGBTQ API organizing efforts at the camp and beyond.

Image description: Text reads, “PEOPLE OVER PRIDE!” In yellow and brown colors. Other text details logistics, listed below. The background of the text is yellow].

“POP! Camp was essential for me to grow and I can’t imagine many other programs to be able to transform a small room in SF Chinatown into a prosperous, educational, and empowering space for everyone. I felt myself expand in ways I had previously not explored, such as my own vulnerability and celebrating the intersections of myself rather than dreading them. Through POP! Camp, I have met so many incredible and authentic people. I hope with all my heart this camp can continue to inspire and empower not only my generation, but future generations to build and fight for a better world.”Kai Song, POP! Camp 2017 participant and current planning committee

This four-day camp is an opportunity for big laughs, critical connections, and valuable learning. Our team is led by young people, and trainers are alumni of our previous POP! Camp. The curriculum will be shaped by participants, but you can expect a variety of workshops including…

  • LGBTQ API Histories
  • Trans Justice and Gender
  • Organizing for Racial & Immigrant Justice
  • Making Strong Asks
  • Intergenerational Organizing
  • Asking for Help
  • Self and Community Care


  • WHAT: A training camp for LGBTQIA API youth to get trained in organizing skills to create change!
  • WHEN: July 18 – July 22 (Flying in on July 18, Flying out July 22).
  • WHERE: San Francisco Bay Area, California!
  • WHO: LGBTQIA+ Asian and Pacific Islander youth, ages 14-20
  • ACCESS: We are committed to making POP! Camp accessible to participants in a variety of ways. Please let us know your access and learning needs in the application, and we will communicate as soon as possible with our capacity to meet those needs.
  • COST: This camp is free for anyone who needs it. To sustain this, we’re asking all participants to contribute for registration or flight if they have the means.


APIENC and NQAPIA are hoping to ensure that there is diverse representation from around the country. If you are interested in applying for POP, please fill out this RSVP form by March 11th 11:59PM PST. Participants will be notified by April 1st.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Jasmin Hoo at jasmin@apienc.org.

This Has Been a Messy Year: Practicing Healthy Accountability

Avery Nguyen (they/them) is a member of APIENC’s Core Committee, and our Trans Justice Committee. After our retreats with the Wildfire Project, Avery wrote this reflection to share with the APIENC community. 

This has been a messy year.

Besides the harms and injustices that have been affecting me indirectly, personally this year has been one of hurt: hurting others, being hurt, witnessing pain. Personally I am so thankful to have made it another turn around the sun, and that those pains have become lessons.

What I want from folx reading this who follow or support or contribute to APIENC’s work, is to think about collective growth from harm, specifically harm that’s come from within the community.

Though this lead-up would have you anticipate a call-out post describing community drama, this is not that. If you had a chance to read Mioi’s reflection in last month’s newsletter, you might remember her mentioning that APIENC’s Core Committee spent 2018 working with facilitators from an org called Wildfire. Over the course of three weekends, our Wildfire facilitators made space for us to re-ground in our power and the power of our ancestors, as well as unearthed unnamed tensions within the group that hindered our growth and our work.

Image Description: A pathway is covered with leaves, with tall trees on each side. There is a small cabin.

Tensions themselves are not inherently bad. Just as you cannot label any emotion as bad by itself, a tension reveals a need. That need can be a conversation yet to be had, a community-building brainstorm, or an agreement to part ways. In the case of Core, which is comprised of about a dozen dedicated APIENC volunteers who had all come to the group on different paths, there were a bunch of tensions that had yet to be addressed at the beginning of the year. From figuring out what our collective purpose/role was (what we often referred to as “building the road as we walk it”), to better understanding the distinction between staff responsibilities and Core’s, to finally facing the harm and burnout that would be caused to staff if we couldn’t get ourselves organized. I thought these retreats were just going to be cute team-building exercises and brainstorming sessions, but it got real serious, real quick!

Throughout all of our retreats what I kept coming back to was how we, as a group, practice (healthy, grounded) accountability.

If you move in queer circles, lived with roommates, or participated in movement work (especially in the Bay Area), you likely have witnessed UNhealthy accountability¹. This accountability is transactional, punitive, pushes people to avoid holding or being held. It is practiced reactively, only after resentment has started to accumulate. It is accommodating to the needs of others at the expense of your personal boundaries. It is martyring yourself for the sake of the group. It comes at you sideways, feels out of pocket. It fears conflict. It does not move from a space of wanting to build with others, or grow from tension. It holds onto harm, demands retribution.

Image Description: A green field with many trees, a big sky of fog is above.

When our facilitators asked us how we’ve experienced this kind of accountability, stories and examples flowed readily. We were taught this as children and carry it on as adults: when people do “bad” things, they get punished. An eye for an eye. It makes perfect sense to most people. Throughout contexts, the punishments take different shapes but the results are often the same: disconnection, isolation, vengefulness, continued pain. As easy as it was to describe what we didn’t want accountability to be, it was just as difficult to imagine what healthy accountability could look like. It must be hard, or else why haven’t we seen it already? It must be complicated, because I’ve witnessed even dedicated activists cut each other out of community spaces. It seemed like an easier option than identifying the tension and growing from it together.

What is healthy accountability then? Healthy accountability is built on trust and care. It is iterative and layered. It knows the difference between guilt and shame. It acknowledges impact without judgment. It is relational. It is reciprocal and acknowledges power dynamics around emotional labor. It respects the wholeness of people, and leaves no one behind. It rejects martyrs. It is endlessly curious. It always moves with compassion (it also distinguishes between kindness and compassion).

Image Description: A foggy green field, with plenty of trees and a large brown branch.

A culture of healthy accountability is one that will take time and so much work to build. Especially as marginalized people. We carry the weight of our (ancestors’) traumas. Un/learning takes a lifetime, takes generations. It’s a layered and complicated process because being human is messy; being a human interacting with and trying to build with other humans? MESSY. We will all inevitably commit hurt as well as become hurt. How do we want to grow from it? What do we want to build? Within ourselves? With others? This is beyond self-care: this is community care. It’s an awkward road we traverse. We’re figuring it out as we go. We turn to our ancestors for guidance. We try things on. If something no longer fits, we try something else. We take breaks, we take care. There are growing pains. We get our people together, and we keep going.

I’m so, so thankful to have even begun a conversation like this with other QTAPI dreamers and builders. Let’s keep having them. Let’s grow. Let’s make our ancestors proud. Let’s make each other proud.

Image Description: A person stands at a whiteboard, writing about what they have learned

¹Unhealthy and healthy accountability were terms introduced to us by our Wildfire facilitators. I have my own thoughts around using “un/healthy” and the idea of health to measure the success of these relational practices, particularly when considered through a disability justice lens. For the sake of this conversation, I will continue to use these terms, acknowledging their limitations.

2019 Summer Organizer Program – Apply by March 1st

Do you want to work with trans, gender nonconforming, and queer API people and communities? Do you have a commitment to social justice? Are you ready to transform, learn concrete community organizing skills, and work to build movements for change?

The application for APIENC’s (API Equality – Northern California) Summer Organizer Program is now open!

[Image Description: A group of people lift their arms up in joy. Text reads: APIENC Summer Organizer Program, Apply at bit.ly/APIENC2019.]

Applications are due March 1st, 2019!

ABOUT OUR SUMMER ORGANIZER PROGRAM Every year, APIENC (API Equality – Northern California) embarks on an intensive summer program to develop the next generation of LGBTQ API social justice and cultural change leaders. The Summer Organizer Program, previously called our Summer Internship, is a transformative opportunity to build organizing skills and strengthen values in service of social change. Leadership development for our own people is critical in addressing our material conditions and in supporting larger movements for change.

APIENC Summer Organizers receive in-depth trainings on a variety of topics, and employ dynamic approaches for intersectional and multi-issue based organizing. This is the 10th Summer Organizer cohort–it’s been a powerful decade of building queer and trans leaders for all social movements. Participants this summer will shape the organization’s trajectory, and send us into the next decade of building power.

Throughout the summer, Summer Organizers will build meaningful relationships with partner organizations focused on a wide array of issues and committed to queer & trans API justice. Summer Organizers will be expected to participate in our API Queer Justice Leadership Exchange, two weekend-long venues for API leaders to learn organizing skills, exchange ideas, and build community. During the course of the program, Summer Organizers will also also have the opportunity to take leadership in our different projects, including a trans-led contingent the SF Trans March, an intergenerational community care network within the Dragon Fruit Project, and at national spaces with other organizers and activists. Overall, Summer Organizers get to bring their full selves each day, work hard, laugh a lot, and have a blast.


  • Work with APIENC staff to develop and implement strategies for empowering and mobilizing the LGBTQ API community
  • Spend a minimum of 15-20 hours in the APIENC office each week (located in SF Chinatown)
  • Meet once a week with APIENC staff and the rest of the cohort to reflect, debrief, and give and receive feedback
  • Recruit, support, and train volunteers
  • Develop and implement a fundraising campaign
  • Plan and execute trainings and events
  • Represent APIENC at external meetings and events
  • Participate in a two-weekend Leadership Exchange with other API leaders committed to queer justice
  • Reflect on personal narrative and emotional growing edges with other cohort members
  • Build relationships with other LGBTQ people of color, API, and intersectional organizations working towards progressive social change


  • Displays a strong, long-term commitment to the diverse communities APIENC works with
  • Shows a fundamental understanding of the power of community organizing and LGBTQ API leadership
  • Exhibits desire to build intentional relationships, reflect on personal experience, and grow
  • Can build a team and work collaboratively
  • Demonstrates curiosity, proactive leadership, can work independently, and takes initiative
  • Possesses strong interpersonal and relationship-building skills
  • Employs a critical lens and solution-based thinking when addressing issues


  • Applications are due by March 1st, 2019
  • Interviews will be conducted by March 4-14th
  • Selected participants will be notified in late March
  • Summer Organizer Program runs for about 8 weeks from June – August (exact dates TBD)
  • A small stipend is available, but participants are responsible for their own housing and commute costs.


Please set aside 45-60 minutes to complete the application in its entirety. See the FULL list of questions at this link.

2019? 😲 Let’s do this.

APIENC was first founded in 2004, and refounded in 2013, with a commitment to young, trans, and gender nonconforming leadership. This shift happened through intentional changes to our structure, work, and initiatives. 6 years later, we’ve grown in our understanding of queer and transgender API experiences in the Bay Area and we’ve strengthened our relationships with people across social justice movements.

Last year, we committed to growing our human capacities. We created a new set of priorities and directions to guide our work through 2021. We committed to building tools for our communities to claim our power and exercise self-governance, interdependence, and self-determination every day. We wanted to work towards our collective liberation by developing healthy relationships, healing our traumas, understanding our histories, and organizing our people on the ground. It was a big year.

Image description: colorful infographic titled "2018: How APIENC Has Grown", describing accomplishments in Leadership Development, Dragon Fruit Project, and Trans Justice.

Click the image for the FULL graphic! Image description: colorful infographic titled “2018: How APIENC Has Grown”, describing accomplishments in Leadership Development, Dragon Fruit Project, and Trans Justice. Graphic by Cynthia Fong.

In our reflection and through our conversations, we’ve gotten more clear on our purpose. APIENC’s work is about creating real solutions for our communities, and making such solutions politically realistic (even when that has seemed unimaginable!).

Want to know what that looks like in 2019? We wanted to share our guiding priorities, directions, and goals with the APIENC community, so that we can collectively build the world we want to see.

Image description: Page 3 of 2019 APIENC document titled "Initiatives + Tactics -- Directions" outlining APIENC's directions. On the left is a photo of APIENC members chanting and marching down the street at SF Trans March.

Click the image for the FULL 2019 booklet! Image description: Page 3 of 2019 APIENC document titled “Initiatives + Tactics — Directions” outlining APIENC’s directions. On the left is a photo of APIENC members chanting and marching down the street at SF Trans March.

We Are Magic Manifested, and We Won’t Be Erased

APIENC’s Statement on the Leaked ‘Trans Memo’

[Image Description: The words “Won’t Be Erased” are in white, on top of a photo of two people at a march.]

Yesterday, The New York Times reported an unreleased memo from the Trump administration, which would aim to define sex as, “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” The memo, drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services, would diminish the role of gender identity under the Title IX anti-discrimination law, in favor of this limited definition of “sex.”

This legal change would deny the existence of transgender and gender non-binary people. No matter the work, the community, the surgery, the papers, the conversations—under this memo, people would only be seen as their sex assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity. Without Title IX protections transgender folks would no longer be able to dispute discrimination when it comes to healthcare, housing, employment, education or violent attack. Transgender people would be living under even more scrutiny and judgement, potentially even having samples of DNA tested in order to determine a person’s sex assigned at birth, violating people’s biological and personal rights.

At APIENC, we know what this is. This is an attempt to isolate, invisiblize, and erase the existence of transgender people in the United States. This as an attempt to dictate how our bodies should be, publicly and privately, for the sake of conservative federal comfort. This is an attempt to deny our histories of organizing, the rights of our people, and the humanity of our community.

And yet, fighting for safety and building community is in our bones. If they ever dare to test our DNA, they’ll find long legacies of trans resistance interwoven with histories of fierce organizing. Within our trans bodies are the experiences of the transgender, third-gender, non-binary people who have prepared ceremony, held ritual, and created culture for centuries—for much longer than the federal government has been around.

APIENC is here for our community. We are here for transgender, non-binary, and third-gender Asian and Pacific Islander people, and for all transgender people. We will rally, heal, eat, cry, breathe, and fight with one another from a place of interdependence, rather than from fear. From mobilizing in the streets at Trans March, to building skills for our liberation, to providing connections to healthcare, legal services, and housing—we will continue to do what it takes. And we need you with us.

  • Join our Trans Justice Committee: If you are TGNC API-identified, email sammie@apienc.org to participate in ongoing work;
  • Stay Connected: Sign up for our email list and share this post with your community;
  • Become a volunteer member: Actively take-part in building a new world by learning organizing skills, understanding our histories, and moving through trauma;
  • Donate your resources: Trans-led organizations need resources to survive. Over 50% of our dollars come from individual donors who believe in our work. Now is the time to invest in our collective liberation.

We won’t be erased. We won’t be forgotten. We are magic manifested, dreams become reality, and futures actualized. Stay rooted, get close, and take a breath. This is just the next beginning, and we will move through this, working for a world where our full selves can thrive.


Welcome APIENC’s New Community Organizer!

Dear APIENC Community,

We are excited to announce that Jasmin Hoo will be joining us in the role of Community Organizer on September 18th! Jasmin is an amazing social justice educator, activist, and artist, with over ten years experience working with youth and communities through theater and direct action.

4 pictures panels are in the background, all of Jasmin. From left to right, top to down: 1) Jasmin looking to the side; 2) Jasmin at a march, holding up a sign; 3) Jasmin and Sammie smiling; 4) portrait of Jasmin smiling. Text in the center reads, “Welcome Jasmin Hoo! APIENC’s new community organizer”.

Here are a few words from Jasmin herself:

I am very grateful and honored to become the Community Organizer for APIENC; I feel it is exactly where I need to be in my life right now.  Although I have never officially held the title of “community organizer,” in many ways I have been a community organizer my whole life. Growing up as a mixed race kid on the East Coast in the 90’s and coming out as a queer bisexual later in my life, I have spent much of my life creating opportunities for those of us on the margins to feel valued and that we belong.

In this role, I am looking forward to meeting the whole APIENC community, learning from everyone, and finding ways to come together, grow, and thrive. I am particularly excited to offer my passion for theater, art, health/healing, and transformative justice to APIENC! I hope to bring my whole self to this work and to create space for folks to be their authentic selves. As I grow into this position, I ask for your continued support, patience, and openness as we all transition together into this next evolution of APIENC.

By the end of September, we’ll also be saying goodbye (or see ya later!) to MLin in their role as Community Organizer. MLin joined us four years ago, first as an intern, and then as staff. In their time with APIENC, they’ve grown tremendously, and we can’t wait for what’s ahead. Moving forward, MLin will continue being involved with our Core, Dragon Fruit Project, and Fundraising committees. MLin would like to share the following:

Through the last four years, I’ve been exponentially transformed by APIENC’s people, spaces, and movement building. Three years ago, I remember starting as a Community Organizer, intimidated and hesitant to start conversations and relationships from a place of trust. Now, I am so grateful to know that I have an abundant support network for life. Thank you to all the people I’ve come to deeply know via APIENC and our shared investment in our community getting liberated, full, and free. Thank you all for stretching with me!

In the coming months APIENC will be slowing down, turning inward, reflecting, and evaluating with our new staff and volunteer teams. Growth is not linear, and to build power within our communities we need to move at a different pace and strengthen the core of what we do. We hope for your support and patience as we transition in healthy and fruitful ways.

Please welcome Jasmin in her new role! Don’t hesitate to reach out and build bridgesstarting September 18th you can reach Jasmin at jasmin@apienc.org.  

With love and in solidarity,
Sammie Ablaza Wills

We’re Hiring a Community Organizer!

[Image Description: white texts reads: “APIENC IS HIRING! / COMMUNITY ORGANIZER” in large font. In the background, two people are standing at a march.]

APIENC (API Equality – Northern California) is hiring a Community Organizer!

Title:  Community Organizer, APIENC (API Equality – Northern California)

Hiring By: September 2018, process below

Compensation: $45,000 – $50,000, excellent benefits including medical, dental, vision, retirement, & paid vacation time

Hours: Full-time, including travel U.S.-based travel 1-2 times per year.

Location: San Francisco, CA

ABOUT APIENC (API Equality – Northern California)

APIENC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build LGBTQ API power by amplifying our voices and increasing visibility of our communities. We inspire and train leaders, establish intergenerational connections, and document and disseminate our histories. We work closely with other API, LGBTQ, and QTPOC groups in the Bay Area to build resources to develop LGBTQ API leaders and to explore and uplift LGBTQ API history.

Working at APIENC is fun, challenging, engaging, and transformative! As a small grassroots organization, we prioritize deepening our relationships to others on our team and in our community. From a place rooted in abundance, interdependence, and care, we envision our work in the LGBTQ API community to be powered by those most impacted by our work.


Do you see yourself as someone who can lead, grow, and deepen the reach and impact of APIENC’s overall vision, main programs, and collaborations to serve the needs of LGBTQ API people in the Bay Area? If so, you would be a great fit!

Ideally, we’re looking for whoever joins our family, to have a proven ability to recruit, support, and motivate volunteer leaders and community members for our projects and programs. This includes organizing transgender and gender non-conforming support spaces, facilitating values-based community organizing trainings, disseminating interactive content for our Dragon Fruit Project, and coordinating 2-3 grassroots fundraising campaigns per year.

Are you committed to relationship building and intersectional movement building, long-term collaboration, and collective transformation via experimentation? We know that this work is hard, and so, we need someone who can bring a can-do attitude, a commitment to growth alongside others, and skills in strategy, time management, and communication. If you’re ready for a critical opportunity to engage with LGBTQ and/or API folks, intergenerational community, and folks from diverse backgrounds, this role is for you!


The Community Organizer’s primary responsibility is to work with APIENC’s Core leadership, community partners, and LGBTQ API membership base to envision, develop, implement, and evaluate APIENC’s work.  

Specifically, the Community Organizer will:

Job responsibilities may shift accordingly with organizational priorities and directions, which are developed alongside APIENC’s volunteer leadership and membership base

  • Coordinate APIENC programs: Leadership Development, Dragon Fruit Project, Trans Justice Initiative, with support from the Director and volunteer leaders
  • Recruit, train, motivate, and manage volunteers to organize events, trainings, and orientations
  • Work with the Director and volunteer leadership to execute 2-3 grassroots fundraising campaigns and major donor efforts per year
  • Work with the Communications Committee to create and implement communications strategy
  • Build and manage relationships with API and/or LGBTQ partner organizations
  • Develop trainings, curricula, and other teaching tools
  • Supervise interns, fellows, and organizers
  • Represent APIENC at community events and in coalitions


  • Has at least 1-2 years relevant work experience (paid and/or in a volunteer capacity)
  • Committed to relationship building and thrives in a small team environment
  • Highly organized, resourceful, and self-motivated
  • Demonstrated track record of developing and maintaining strong working relationships with volunteers, community members, and community partners
  • Strong record of planning, managing, and evaluating multiple projects and teams at the same time
  • Experience in addressing interpersonal and group conflict, delegating responsibility, and initiating group accountability practices
  • Clear written communication skills, strong oral presentation skills, and track record in communicating to audiences of different ages, educational backgrounds, and countries of origin
  • Able to work flexible hours
  • Preferably, has a valid driver’s license and reliable access to a car
  • Preferably, can speak one or more Asian and/or Pacific Islander language


If you are interested in the above position, please contact MLin (mlin@apienc.org) and Sammie (sammie@apienc.org) to set up a informational conversation in the next 3 weeks (before July 20). This is not an interview. The purpose of this informational conversation is to candidly talk more about the role beyond the written description, assess appropriate next steps, and elaborate on the hiring process.

People of color, queer, transgender, gender nonconforming people and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to inquire and apply.

At APIENC, we prioritize our long-term relationships with the community members who have actively participated and led our work. We also strongly encourage members at APIENC to continue and deepen their involvement with our work, to inquire and apply for this position.

We are aiming to begin the onboarding process by September 2018.

APIENC is fiscally sponsored by Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) that advocates on behalf of Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) and other underrepresented communities in San Francisco and statewide. (www.caasf.org)