by RUTH KIM
Coming out is never an easy leap. Coming out to Asian immigrant parents is weighted with an even deeper set of complexities.
“In Asian families, the parents may accept their children personally, but they will not do so as part of the larger community,” social worker Aries Liao tells Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang. “They will say ‘I care about you no matter what, but don’t tell your aunt or uncle!'”
That’s where The Asian Pride Project steps in. Founded by Liao in 2008, the nonprofit is a “multilingual platform featuring the stories of Asian Pacific Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks and their family members.” Families go through a coming-out process, too, they say. The main goal of the project is to help Asian Americans feel not only comfortable, but proud, as the parents and family members of out queer children.
One way they’re doing this is by airing multilingual PSAs that show Asian American parents talking proudly about their LGBTQ children. In the Korean ad, which is airing on local networks in Los Angeles this week, mother and activist Clara Yoon shares her message passionately. “Too often our children are shunned, ostracized and discriminated against in our community,” she says in Korean. “I am proud of my son. I have always been proud of my son.”
Yoon is the founder of the API Project, a support group for LGBTQ Asian-Pacific Islanders and their families.
Polls show that Korean Americans chart some of the highest rates of opposition to same-sex marriage. Though as the community struggles with acceptance of LGBTQ-identified people, there are glimmers of hope and change—including this PSA.
The Asian Pride Project also unveiled a moving exhibition titled, “Our Portraits, Our Families,” on display at the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown through July 13. Photographs celebrate the “journey, triumphs and struggles” of LGBTQ individuals and families. Check it out.