2015 Highlights and 2016 Goals

2015 was quite a year.

We connected, convened, and inspired hundreds of people to share their stories, learn about queer and trans API history and activism, practice organizing skills, march for trans lives and justice, and build relationships across generations.

Here are some of our highlights:

  • We launched the API Queer Justice Leadership Exchange, a new leadership development initiative for API activists.

  • We surpassed 50 Dragon Fruit oral histories. In partnership with StoryCorps, we organized 6 Dragon Fruit Recording Days. We also hosted two Transcribing Days and a Wiki Edit-a-thon.

  • We joined a coalition of organizations to fight a potential anti-transgender ballot initiative, and just a few weeks ago, celebrated the failure of this initiative to make it to the 2016 ballot.

  • We welcomed our newest Community Organizer, MLin to the team.

In 2016, we plan to refine our leadership development work and continue to train LGBTQ API leaders through our internship program and the API Queer Justice Leadership Exchange; we will launch a Dragon Fruit Project website to showcase these incredible stories and the collective history; and we will continue to both provide and seek out opportunities for our community to show up for trans justice.

We also have a big announcement: our Program Coordinator Tracy Nguyen has joined our new Advisory Board, which is comprised of intern alumni, former staff, educators, community leaders, historians, fundraisers who will support our team through their advice, knowledge, and expertise. In addition, she will co-chair our Fundraising Committee. Although Tracy is no longer on staff, we’re lucky to have her stay involved in this way!

In solidarity,

Monna Wong
Executive Director


Enjoy our 2015 infographic, made by our rockstar volunteer, Cynthia Fong.

Save The Date 2015-FIN-1 Save The Date 2015-FIN-2

The 2015 NQAPIA Conference in Chicago: A Photoblog

QAPI4BlackLives at NQAPIA

Team APIENC attended the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) Conference this year, which took place from August 6-9 in Chicago. Check out some reflections, photos, and experiences below!

Cam Bui, Volunteer, APIQWTC and APIENC
“The NQAPIA conference was a great place to meet people who are working on immigrant rights, racial justice, trans justice, family acceptance, visibility, and election issues across the nation. I met parents of LGBTQ folks. I met people who still had to stay in the closet and knew very few LGBTQ people in their community. I met people who still face violence and threats to their lives because of their identity. Altogether, it was a reminder that the AAPI LGBTQ experience is so diverse and that there are many ways to empower and uplift the AAPI LGBTQ community.” 

Allison Tse, Volunteer, APIENC
“I learned very applicable leadership skills, and it inspired me to think more about how I can use the skills I’ve learned across different spaces, both at work and various community organizations.”


We were proud to represent with our staff, interns, volunteers, alum, and APIQWTC friends!



Surabhi, Summer Intern
“Growing up in a small town in Indiana, I knew a few API people and a few queer people, but the only place where I saw those identities intersect was in myself.  NQAPIA was an overwhelming showcase of the great diversity and power of intersecting queer and API identities. To see this many queer and trans APIs gathering (especially in the Midwest) to support each other and share their experiences was absolutely flooring.”

Missed our workshop? Catch the highlights:


Jean Kim, Volunteer, APIQWTC and APIENC
“To be in a space with over 350 queer API folks and allies and to have the opportunity to meet people from across the country to build networks and learn from each other is a rare thing. One of my favorite parts of the conference was meeting the API parents who fully support and love their queer kids. Not only that, they are also actively advocating for queer API issues on the behalf of not just their own children, but our entire community!”

8/8/15 – LGBTQ API Legacies: A Timeline of Resilience

From August 6 – 10, we will be at Thriving Together: Queer APIS Building Community, Solidarity, and Movement.

A National Conference of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders. We’ll be joining 250 LGBT AAPIs from across the nation for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s (NQAPIA) 2015 National Conference. The Conference is locally hosted by Invisible to Invincible (i2i) and Trikone-Chicago. Join us for our history workshop below!

NEW! Draft Conference Program Book text – full schedule


LGBTQ API Legacies: A Timeline of Resilience
Saturday, August 8
1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
2:50 p.m. to 4:05 p.m.

NOTE: This is a 3-hour workshop covering two time slots. Participants are welcome to attend the first half, second half, or BOTH! 

Description: What is the “LGBTQ API movement”? Where have we been and where are we going? This workshop will discuss the Dragon Fruit Project, an intergenerational, oral history project that explores queer Asian Pacific Islanders and their experiences with activism during the 60s through 90s. Participants will also learn how to upload our histories onto the free internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, LIVE!

*You will need a laptop – please email tracy@apiequalitync.org if you need one! 


Part 1: We’ll actively engage in the LGBTQ API narrative through a graphic timeline. By uplifting our community histories, we’ll be breaking through the silence that is a byproduct of systematic and institutionalized oppression!


Part 2: Wikipedia is the internet’s FREE encyclopedia, and is the 5th most viewed website in the world. We’re taking control of the ways we dynamically upload our community’s history and key events so that we’re authentically represented. Anyone can add or edit information – we’ll teach you how! This is a unique tool that can be applied to anyone’s work.

See previous wiki-edit-a-thons here. 


Dragon Fruit Project Recording and Transcribing Day

This year, we’re partnering up with StoryCorps to conduct interview recordings with LGBTQ API storytellers. StoryCorps has collected over 50,000 interviews and deposited them into the Library of Congress where they will remain forever. This is a huge opportunity for us to amplify LGBTQ API stories, as they will be shared on the internet, radio and other public broadcasts.

How can you participate?


Show up at the StoryCorps recording booth at the SF Public Library and share your story for 40 minutes! Click this image to sign up.


Interview an LGBTQ API activist. Click this image to sign up.


Transcribe an audio interview! Click this image to sign up.



2015 QWOCMAP Film Festival (June 12,13,14)

We are a proud community partner of QWOCMAP. This year’s film festival features some of our Dragon Fruit Project and highlights some of our rockstar volunteers! Look out for:

The 11th annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival launches a constellation of 39 stellar films into orbit with a Festival Focus “Justice Heals” that radiates our tenacity as queer and trans people of color, and a Community Conversation “Film & the Nation-State” that ruptures the trauma and violence that often eclipses our lives. All films are SDH.

See the QWOCMAP FF trailer!


ABOUT QWOCMAP creates, exhibits and distributes new films that authentically reflect the lives of queer women of color and address the vital social justice issues that concern multiple communities. We actively bridge seemingly disparate populations to transform and empower our filmmakers, audiences and communities through art, activism and community building.

We actively invest in, develop and nurture the creativity of emerging media artists who are Asian/Pacific Islander, African Descent/Black, Chicana/Latina, Native American/Indigenous/First Nations, South Asian, Southwest Asian/North African/Middle Eastern and Mixed-Race lesbians, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning women in the Bay Area.

QWOCMAP provides professional training, equipment, screening opportunities and resources free of charge to guarantee full access to our traditionally underserved community, particularly young, low-income and immigrant queer women of color.

Our vision nurtures queer women of color filmmakers as artist-activist leaders to create systemic change and lead social justice movements that incorporate the power of art as cultural resistance and cultural renewal.

5.21.15 – Give OUT Day

One year ago, API Equality – Northern California participated for the first time in Give OUT Day 2014, a national initiative to mobilize individual giving on a single day across the country to the LGBT nonprofit community. It lasts 24 hours.


Give OUT Day helps us amplify our voices, increase visibility of our work, and engage hundreds of friends, family, and allies in our cause. This year, on Thursday, May 21st, we want everyone who believes in the power of LGBTQ API oral histories to rise up and give to API Equality – Northern California. 

Last year we said NO to competition and YES to solidarity. We partnered with another Bay Area group to share the Bay Area leaderboard award money in a way that felt equitable. This year, we hope to continue participating in Give OUT in the spirit of abundance and community.


We’re aiming to find 500 unique supporters by May 21st, 9PM to ensure that our community has access to dynamic, intergenerational histories.  Here are some ways you can help us reach our goal:

Thank you! We can’t do it without you.


Yifan Mai


YIFAN MAI identifies as a queer cis-male Chinese-Singaporean. Currently, he is a software engineer at Coursera, an education technology company.

Growing up in Singapore, Yifan felt very disconnected from his queer identity. Because of state censorship and a culture of shame, it was impossible to find representations of LGBTQ people in the media or have real conversations about LGBTQ issues. While Singapore had some LGBT groups, there weren’t any youth groups that he could participate in. This meant he did not have any vocabulary to describe his identity or experiences.

Yifan received most of his political education during college, mostly through informal participation in student groups, panels, conferences, and activism. During his last quarter, Yifan took a class on LGBT history in the United States, which was very influential. After the class, he felt much more connected to LGBT histories, especially narratives that don’t fit into the Stonewall mythology in popular culture.

“One of the main lessons I learned was that it is really important to be able to name and describe social inequalities: racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, etc. before you can start doing anything about it. That made me realize that silence and invisibility is dangerous.”

Yifan was involved in a few LGBT groups while at Stanford University including Queer & Asian, the Stanford LGBT oral history project, and SOSAS (Safe and Open Spaces at Stanford) – a group of student panelists who would speak about LGBT issues in freshman dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, and campus events. His experience with SOSAS helped him realize that storytelling could be an empowering and liberating experience. Outside of LGBT issues, Yifan is also interested in issues about equity in education. He helped teach introductory computer science classes and workshops for middle-school and high-school students.

Yifan volunteers with API Equality – Northern California as a Data Coordinator for the Dragon Fruit Project because he wanted a space explore his activism around race, gender, and sexuality by contributing his technical skills. Coming SOON: Yifan and our Data Committee will be launching a Dragon Fruit digital portal by the end of the summer to disseminate LGBTQ API histories!

“… I was very frustrated at the lack of documentation on LGBT people of color in the United States. Most historical narratives center around white people, because those were the only records that historians could find. For example, I recently watched a documentary, “To Survive a Plague,” that documented AIDS activism by ACT-UP in New York City, and I realized that the subjects in the documentary were all white. We knew about people of color in the movement, but they didn’t get as much visibility in the media. A little while earlier, I heard Steve Lew speak at one of the Dragon Fruit events. He did a lot of important work during the AIDS era around the Asian-American community. I wanted to work on preserving and spreading stories like Lew’s.”

Yifan hopes the Dragon Fruit Project’s outreach and educational efforts will make a tangible impact on people’s lives. He also hopes that LGBTQ APIs will transcend beyond identity politics and build solidarity with other social justice movements.

One of Yifan’s most memorable moments with APIENC was when he heard Steve Lew’s talk at a Dragon Fruit transcribing day last summer.


Dragon Fruit Intergenerational Fishbowl Conversation (from left to right): Willy Wilkinson, Steve Lew, and Joyce Ycasas

He also enjoyed the Dragon Fruit intergenerational brunch where he got to see a visual timeline that gave him a powerful sense of LGBTQ APIs’ place in history! See more here. 











Fun facts? Yifan is named after a chemical element: Vanadium, number 23. His mother was a high school chemistry teacher when she named him. Yifan is also a fire performer in his spare time!