I came out to my mom 5 months ago. But my journey really started 4 years ago. Let me tell you how I embarked on this journey.
To begin with, my name is Tracy, and I was a part of the first API Equality – Northern California intern cohort 4 summers ago. Having this experience in my life has been invaluable, because it has opened up endless opportunities for me to explore who I am. And now it has empowered me to raise my voice.
Five months ago, with the help of a friend, I wrote a coming out letter in Vietnamese to my mom. The letter reflected all the ways I was transformed through my experiences working for API Equality. I talked about how, through the Dragon Fruit Project, I connected with Crystal Jang, a 4th generation Chinese lesbian, learning from her about the resilience of LGBTQ API activists from the 60’s. I talked about how, through the UC Berkeley API Issues Conference, I gained courage from Jayden Thai, a fierce trans Vietnamese activist who is busy organizing as the lone trans API activist in Kentucky. And I talked about how, through moving storytelling platforms, I wept with Marsha Aizumi, who showed me that a queer journey is multifaceted and that our parents have their own coming out processes too.
After years of carrying silence and being afraid, it was this community that helped me find the words to convey to my mom: I hope you trust that I will navigate this world in all the ways you taught me.
I am now, proudly, the Community Organizer for API Equality – Northern California. For me, fighting for justice and equality needed to start with addressing my own acceptance at home. I’ve be fortunate to embark on this journey of acceptance.
Since my coming out, I’ve been given strength to continue fighting for justice and equality by my black, brown, young, homeless, low-income, disabled, undocumented, and trans brothers and sisters. With this camaraderie, I know I can continue doing the work that is needed: strengthening and growing our movement of LGBTQ API young leaders.
My process is a true testament of how the internship program can unlock a lifelong transformation. I am growing every day, and every year a new cohort comes into our spaces. I am one story, but also one example of how this program cultivates a lifetime commitment to this work and community. Coming out has only given me strength to continue fighting. The rest of the world gets to benefit from the empowerment and liberation of LGBTQ API people! Leadership development is for anyone and everyone – find out by volunteering with us. I owe it to the community for allowing me this journey and privilege to be my full self. Thank you!