In spite of California’s LGBTQ-friendly policies and recent LGBTQ legislative wins across the country, many Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ people are still not able to be their full selves in their homes, schools, workplaces, and places of worship.
We know that true LGBTQ acceptance needs to start in our communities. With the objective of creating safe spaces for connection and dialogue within our communities, API Equality Northern California and Network on Religion and Justice are collaborating on The Pink Elephant Project— a one-of-a-kind storytelling and education project! From August to December 2013, we’re bringing together a cohort of API LGBTQ people of faith and allies to build community, record our stories, and develop skills to promote greater understanding of LGBTQ people in API faith communities in the Bay Area.
We are excited about the positive impact this project will have on API LGBTQ faith communities and beyond. We recently kicked off with our first meeting, and two participants shared their experiences of the community we are creating as we embrace our identities and empower ourselves through our stories and voices:
“How would you feel if you were in a place that felt safe? How would you feel if you were in a place where you felt accepted? How would you feel if you were in a place where you didn’t feel judged? The Pink Elephant Project is that place. It IS that forum. I was motivated to join this initiative, not knowing what it would involve, not knowing exactly what and how I could contribute, and not knowing what the end product would be. I still don’t know what the end product will be, but I had a chance to see how we could get there. I now have that roadmap.
The way we will get there is by making the biggest investment we can. And no, it’s not money! It’s an investment in people, an investment in ourselves, and through an investment and commitment to having open dialogue. I had the opportunity to meet the cohort, the team that I’ll be working with over the next four months, and was impressed with the diaspora of people and experiences that were brought into the room. Through listening to introductions and having the first ‘glimpse’ into the personal lives of others, I was immediately able to relate to much of what I heard. We then underwent a few team building and smaller group activities. The project, thus far, has been an enlightening one, and has taught me something very significant. I am not alone.”
“As the evening ended, we all felt a sense of good work done, with more opportunities to share in the next meetings. It seemed that healing took place amongst us, as our vulnerability allowed us to open our hearts to reveal who we really are, API LGBTQ/ally people of faith. Our voices are those that need to be heard. Our stories are those that need to be shared. The first meeting was a breakthrough moment for the Spirit to touch our spirits, one by one, to move forward in love and hope.”