Searching for Queer Asian Pacific America

Searching for Queer Asian Pacific America

Guest Post by Patrick G. Lee

I grew up thinking that you could be queer or Asian, but never both. That definitely had to do with the TV shows I watched (Will & Grace; Sex and the City) and the people I met at my Korean church (all straight or super super super closeted).

So when I started coming out as a queer Asian person in my twenties, I just assumed that I was on my own. Almost all of my gay friends from college were white, they all spoke the same language as their parents, and they had long ago dealt with the coming out process.

But a few years later, I moved to New York and made my first gay Asian friends in the city. We all met at a family acceptance workshop for Asian Pacific Islanders at the LGBT Center in Manhattan. That summer, we danced together, sang karaoke together, and ate Korean BBQ together — and our chosen family just kept growing.

Many of us shared anxieties over communicating with our immigrant parents and coming out to our families. Visiting relatives abroad meant re-entering the closet. But we had each other to commiserate and confide in.

At the same time, I felt lost and unmoored in my personal history as a queer Asian American: I had found my chosen family, but who were our parents and our grandparents, our aunties and our ancestors?

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