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 The Price of Tea in China?

by borrowisely.com


 Current LGBT rights and worldwide laws

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Education, Awareness, Resources & Programs



On this page are third-party educational resources that may serve as a starting point to generate greater cultural awareness and exchange of multicultural ideas. Asians & Friends Denver is not responsible for content and the following is for informative, education purposes only.





Reference:
Teaching beyond the Deficit Model: Gay and Lesbian Issues among African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans.

Contributors: Mark Akerlund - author, Monit Cheung - author. Journal Title: Journal of Social Work Education.
Volume: 36. Issue: 2. Publication Year: 2000. Page Number: 279.




Challenges faced by gay minorities

by Can Tran

Sadly, being a gay minority puts one in "double jeopardy." In a sense, a gay minority is pretty much a "double minority." This is due to gay minorities being put in two different minority groups. One minority group is a matter of skin color and the other minority group is a matter of sexual preference. But, there are also the terms of "triple jeopardy" and "triple minority." That is if you factor in the religious preferences as well. There is still plenty of religious persecution in the world today. In order to understand the terms and dangers, one has to break them down individually.

Challenge One: Racism

There are still racial hate crimes being committed in the world today. However, it is very mind compared to the twentieth century. One needs to think about the Reconstruction of the South, the creation of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and the Civil Rights Movement. There were a lot of attacks toward minorities. One example would be the beating and murder of Michael Donald. The picture of a dead Michael Donald was publicized. There were church burnings and bombings. There was also the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Being a minority of skin color, there is always the persecution because of that. That the first difficulty of being a gay minority. Just being a minority of skin color brings forth prejudice from a majority that has a different skin color. That is pretty much the first challenge gay minorities go through.

Challenge Two: Sexual Discrimination

This challenge proves to be extremely difficult to meet. There have been many hate crimes against the LGBT community. The most notable act would be the murder of gay college student Mathew Shepard. Unfortunately, gay minorities are also persecuted within their own minority groups.

Gay Latinos will face persecution from the Latino community. Gay Asians will face persecution from the Asian community. Gay blacks will face persecution from the black community. They could even find themselves attacked by their own peers. This is the one major challenge that gay minorities face. They will face also face persecution and intolerance from their own respective communities.

Challenge Three: Religious Persecution

Gays let alone gay minorities are subject to persecution from the religious community. While there are LGBT friendly churches, there is much religious persecution towards those in the LGBT community. For example, say that you are a Sunni Muslim in a city that is dominated by Shi'ites. If you are a gay minority and a Sunni, you will be persecuted by the Shi'ites. At the same time, you will be persecuted by your fellow Sunni.

These are very much the challenges a gay minority will face in his/her life. It all depends on the situation, the location, the environment, and the sociopolitical situation. The unpopular Proposition 8 campaign highlighted the difficulty of being a gay minority. So far, it showed that the LGBT community was at odds with the Black, Latino, and Asian communities. The rift between those communities was one of the reasons that Proposition 8 ended getting voted into law.

Overall, gay minorities will face persecution and rejection. What makes it worse and more painful is that they are rejected from their respective minority groups. Luckily, that is where the LGBT community comes in. This spells out the importance of having an LGBT community.

Reference: http://www.helium.com/items/1533738-challenges-faced-by-gay-minorities






At the Intersection: Gay Asian Male? Asian Gay Male?

I admit that as an Asian American gay male, I have long juggled these two identities, often favoring one over the other. As a person of color, I know without a doubt that the gay experience for us is different from the white community. There are additional things to consider, especially since race is still the first thing other people notice. However, for me personally I consider myself gay first, and Asian American second. I feel like I do this because I find my ethnic community to not be as accepting as the majority "white" community when it comes to sexual identity.

Much like the religious community, I feel as though there's a rejection of the idea of gayness with many ethnic communities. Oftentimes Asian Americans feel like their families are not accepting of their sexual orientation, so it goes undiscussed and evolves into a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" scenario. A report such as this one really gives insight to the pressure and issues that are at stake for pe ople of color communities. It also shows that these issues are almost universal across people of color communities. Not only is religion an issue for blacks, but I feel that from my personal experience faith and church plays a huge role in Asian American communities. I feel as though I've been "blessed" (pun intended?) to live in a not-too-religiously-conservative household (as a family we stopped going to chuch altogether some years ago), so this was not an issue for me. However it's an issue for other people.

Juggling these often conflicting viewpoints is a real struggle when both faith and ethnicity play a role in your life. Being gay is also still seen as being a "white" thing, so much so that even in other languages such as Spanish and Korean, the word for "gay" is simply "gay," merely a loanword from English. Even linguistically the concept of "gayness" seems to be a relatively new idea, almost unheard of in some ethnic communities. Because of this, I feel as though LG BT people of color really do feel "detached" from their people of color community, which is probably why, as I've mentioned before, I identify with the LGBT community first and my Asian American community second. However, this isn't always easy because I still feel as though the gay community is largely white, so oftentimes I'll stick out like a sore thumb at events such as Pride.

Personally, I've gotten used to it, mainly because as of right now Asian gay communities are of no big interest to me. Another big thing I find true from this report is the lack of representation of LGBT people of color in media and other consumerables. I think that black LGBT people are getting more representations (however, their accuracy is another story...but then again, is the media ever really accurate?), but Asian Americans are seriously lacking. This is probably just a reflection of the gay community at large in real life. Class also plays a big part.

I think right now the acronym "LGBT" is still a misnomer because the focus still seems to be on the "gay" (white men), and with this comes the class factor. This report is just the first step in bringing to light the very real issues that LGBT people of color face. Much more work needs to be done. I also wonder how accurate this report is in terms of representing the LGBT people of color community. For instance, how many transgender people were there? Why are Asian Americans still the smallest group represented in the report? Lot more needs to be done, but this is a good first step.

Reference: http://www.hrc.org/issues/13589.htm






How does this affect Asian people?

"Along with other ethnic groups, Asians are less likely than their counterparts to accept their sexual orienation. This is in part due to strong cultural values which only allow for one type of marriage or family: only one that includes opposite-gender marriage and encourages children".

"More and more APA LGBT people are coming out of the closet, yet they still face invisibility, isolation and stereotyping"

Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004"









When it's stifling to be out: Gay Asian American men say cultural values keep them from coming out

30 July 2009

Paul Nguyen, a gay man who has come out to his family, stands at the Northgate Transit Center on July 29. (Photo by Vivian Luu/NWAW)

Paul Nguyen, a gay man who has come out to his family, stands at the Northgate Transit Center on July 29. (Photo by Vivian Luu/NWAW)

By Vivian Luu
Northwest Asian Weekly

Jason Lee, 24, will openly tell you that he's gay. You may have met him while he was tanning at Madison Beach. He's not afraid to tell you that his boyfriend's name is Adyceum Carri and that he loves going to Neighbours, a gay club on Capitol Hill.

However, his mom doesn't know that he's gay. Neither does anyone else in his family besides his closest cousin. Lee said it is uncommon to be gay in Taiwan. He says his mom constantly asks him if he has a girlfriend in the United States.

"I feel my mother will cut my [financial] support," Lee said, adding that he would not be able to study accounting at Seattle University if his mother disowned him and refused to pay his tuition.

Lee's fear is well-founded. As a volunteer for the Mpowerment Project, a west coast support program for gay and bisexual men, he has seen the kinds of things that can happen to teens and young adults when they come out to their families.

"They would get kicked out of their homes," Lee said. "Because they're young, they can't always make enough money to support themselves. They end up having to offer sex for money."

Paul Nguyen, 19, says that core Asian values can stifle a gay man's ability to live happily.

Instead of knitting families together, Confucian values, which heavily stress patriarchy, tear families apart.

"You're expected to live at home, go to school, get married, have kids, and have your parents live in your house," Nguyen said. "Because I'm gay, I can't follow that. It's not the same. I won't have those kids. I won't have that wife."

Fear of failing is prevalent in Asian culture. Nguyen said that when he was young, his parents made sure that he did everything correctly, without making mistakes.

He recalled when his parents bought a 100-year-old piano when his older sister, Patricia, started learning to play the piano. Nguyen was 7 years old. He broke a piano key one day while playing the instrument.

"Instead of hiring someone, my dad decided to fix it himself," Nguyen said. "He made me sit down and watch him. He cursed and yelled at me. When he couldn't fix it, he came over to me and kicked me in the head."

The experience, Nguyen said, made him feel that he would suffer if he didn't do everything correctly. Being gay is no exception.

"I thought if my parents ever found out [I was gay], I would get disowned," Nguyen said.

Nguyen's parents did find out that he was gay. Nguyen was caught inviting another male to come visit him at their house. He came clean when his parents asked him if he was gay. The incident was responsible for Nguyen going to a correctional facility.

"My mom started crying," Nguyen said. "I started crying. My dad looked a little sad, and I could tell he was disappointed in me."

Disappointment, said Jeremy, is the last thing he wants to bring to his parents. The 21-year-old requested his last name not be released, as his family does not know he is gay.

Jeremy said individuality is suppressed in Asian culture. People are expected to thrive in groups, so any deviation from established norms is considered taboo — including being gay.

According to Derick Medina, 28, parents who emigrated from an Asian country have a tougher time accepting homosexuality because their lifestyles there are very conservative. Ever-present, ever-watching governments also condemn homosexuality.

Jeremy said that all hell broke loose when his aunt found his e-mail on a website for gay, Asian men.

"My mom was crying, and she blamed herself for not having paid more attention to me and knowing the friends I hung out with," he said. "She asked me if I was 'normal.'"

Jeremy hasn't completely come out to his parents because he doesn't want the relationship he has with them to vanish.
"

They are the people I love," he said. "[But] they will abandon you, have bad thoughts about you, and say things against you [if they know you're gay]. Losing them is the worst part that I can think of because you've shared so much with them."

Instead of facing consequences, gay men would hide their sexual orientation from their families, Medina said.

"You can have a loving family and be very open to them. But even then, you can hide your darkest secrets from them. Being gay is often that secret." ?

Vivian Luu can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

Reference: http://www.nwasianweekly.com/2009/07/when-it%E2%80%99s-stifling-to-be-out/



Gay Asian-Americans Face More Stress
Saturday, August 1, 2009

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In what’s probably not a surprise to any Asian-American gay youth, Hyeouk Chris Hahm of the Boston University School of Social Work published a new study indicating this group often faces extended family and cultural social stresses that affect their ethnic and sexual identities. The study was published in the Journal of LGBT Youth, and indicated that both young men and women mask homosexual behaviors to avoid alienating their family and parents’ communities. In their relationships with others, they often have to decide which identity will take precedence — their ethnic or sexual identity.

“In the Western gay and lesbian community, ‘coming out,’ is final revelation that you are homosexual while for Asian and Pacific Islanders in America of Korean descent, there is ‘coming home,’ where you want to integrate culturally and be both an American and Korean,” Hahm said in a statement. “This is not staying closeted but rather alluding to your sexuality to a family member, who may not challenge it, as long as the status quo within the family is maintained.”

For many in the Asian American gay community there’s the notion of balancing two lives, and the life you have with your family, where you are closeted, and the life you live based on your sexual identity. I straddled both worlds for much of my life, having the face I showed at family gatherings and events, and even bringing my “friend” along for many of these events. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that my two worlds collided. While I know some Asians who considered, and even married someone of the opposite sex to keep their cover with their family, that was something I knew I would never be able to do.

I’m not sure what it is about turning 30, but that seems to be the magical age in Chinese culture when you’re supposed to be married, and if you’re not, all hope seems to be lost. That’s the age my parents decided it was time for a sit down confrontation, and asked me point blank when I was getting married. At that moment, I came out to my parents and although they had problems accepting my sexual identity, things got better with time. But to the rest of the extended family, my husband was still just my “friend”, and that’s pretty much the way things stand today. My husband gets invited to all the family events, and everyone understands he’s also our daughter’s other parent, but no one mentions the word gay or homosexual; everything is just understood or implied. We even had a wedding reception, and family came, but the family doesn’t talk about it. It’s the two world culture that Hahm writes about in her study, and one I’m sure you’re all too familiar with if you’re Asian-American and gay.

http://www.8asians.com/2009/08/01/gay-asian-americans-face-more-stress/





Working with Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual International Students in the United States

By Nadine Kato

For many people in the United States, the words "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" conjure up strong emotions. From curiosity to embarrassment, from self-recognition to fear, the words have the power to elicit a deeply personal response in nearly everyone. The personal emotions attached to the topic of homosexuality, and possibly a fear of controversy, lead many university support staff to remain silent on the subject. This silence leaves gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) students wondering to whom they can comfortably divulge their identity and discuss related concerns. The silence can prevent international GLB students from seeking help when they most need it.

International student advisers (ISAs) are in a key position to offer information to GLB international students on a variety of issues. However, in a survey I conducted of GLB international students across the United States, students reveal that they seldom seek help from ISAs for issues related to sexual orientation. Nevertheless, insightful ISAs can provide a viable option for students looking for support. In fact, their contribution can be especially valuable, as ISAs are generally more familiar with the international aspects of the issues facing GLB international students than are GLB support groups on campus.

My survey was conducted by e-mailing a request for participants to international student offices and GLB student organizations at 170 institutions in the United States. The survey was posted on the Internet so students could access it and submit anonymous responses. A small number of students from my university completed a written survey and sat for an interview. A total of 59 international students completed the survey. The sections of the survey discussed in this article include: issues that gay, lesbian and bisexual students face on U.S. campuses, support services that are and are not utilized by GLB international students on U.S. campuses, and choices students face about returning to their home countries. 

Thirty-six students (61 percent) plan to remain in the United States after they graduate. Twenty-seven students' decisions to stay are based on issues related to their GLB identity, whether it is feeling more accepted in the United States, trying to stay with a partner, fear of the home country, or some other factor. 

Issues Faced by International Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students in the United States

The survey respondents identified two main problems that they believe most affect the international GLB student population in the United States: fear of returning to a less GLB-friendly home country and difficulty staying in the United States long-term to be with a partner.

Fear of Returning to a Less GLB-Friendly Home Country

The most common cause of anxiety about returning home is the feeling that one must either betray oneself by going back into the closet or be dishonest to others by leading a double life. One French woman respondent says, "I somehow equate going back to France with going back into the closet, after many years of coming to grips with my sexual orientation and finally coming out." Another European woman refers to her parents in her feelings about going home, "I cannot get rid of the feeling of betraying myself by going back into the closet if I go home to my parents." A Nigerian student feels she has to choose between her close-knit family and society at home, or staying in the United States to be out. She comments, "Most of the Nigerians I have met here and in London have either resigned themselves to living a double life, or have totally cut themselves off from non-GLB Nigerians." A Thai woman states, "I [feel] like I no longer have a home." She explains that she will have to choose between being true to her lesbian identity and staying in the United States, or "discarding" that identity and going home. 

A Japanese man says that coming out to his parents is the biggest issue he will face when he returns home. He believes that people, including his parents, will accept his sexual orientation better if he "compensates" for being gay by excelling in some other way, such as by getting an additional degree, gaining fluency in English, or becoming famous.

A few male respondents from Latin America disavowed their home countries. One individual from Honduras describes his disappointment in his home country in this way:

I came out after I graduated from undergrad and returned to Honduras a couple of months later. Moving back crushed the resulting elation from coming out. I felt dirty and shameful. The culture at large saw me as a diseased, sick, perverted individual. I was crushed. I never want to go back to that.... Indeed, I reject my entire cultural identity as a Honduran. I never again want to be a part of it.

Hilda Besner and Charlotte Spungin, authors of Gay and Lesbian Students: Understanding Their Needs, say that "identity disclosure for most gays and lesbians, brings with it a tremendous amount of personal freedom and a more complete integration of their sexual identity and their environment." The Honduran student had just recently come out and experienced a sense of personal freedom in the United States. His return home made him feel isolated and ashamed.

A man from Venezuela describes his feelings about being GLB in his home country:

Being GLB in Venezuela is something so horrible that I didn't have an idea of what to do. I prayed, exercised, and tried to remain as busy as possible. Nevertheless I constantly would have to hear offensive comments about GLB people in general.... There is some kind of national obsession with trying to find out if a man is gay or not, but if somebody acknowledges that they are gay, then people react with an "I don't want to know about that." Also many men engage ... in active homosexual sex but don't consider themselves homosexuals.... I am glad and thank God that I was able to get out of that country because I feel that I have done nothing wrong and nevertheless I would be treated like a crook in my country.... I will never go back; I think poorly of the people in my country and don't want to go there ever again. I will not be humiliated....

Difficulty Staying in the United States to Be with a Partner

The second most common concern for GLB international students is remaining in the United States to be with a long-term partner. Because gay and lesbian marriages are generally not recognized, such partnerships are not accepted as valid reasons for one to immigrate to the United States. Two survey respondents who were “heavily affected” by this problem describe their plight:

I'm presently involved with someone I met [as an] undergraduate, when I came out. We came out together and we are still together. I'm faced with having to go back to my country because I'm running out of visa options. I wish there were a way to marry or some partnership options to be able to stay together. (Colombian man, graduate student)

The most significant issue for my partner and me … has been and continues to be the fact that our relationship cannot be legally sanctioned and that, therefore, we never know if I will be able to stay in the United States. This continuous "deadline," i.e., visa expiration date, is frequently a topic of discussion and is, at times, a significant stress factor. (Dutch woman, graduate student)

The director of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender programs at a large Midwestern university voiced her concern that it would be difficult to find students willing to participate in my research survey. She explained that most international students who come to her would like to remain with their partners in the United States but feel they have no choice but to "go underground" in order to stay. These students believe that by identifying themselves as international students in the survey, they put themselves in jeopardy, since they may remain in the United States illegally to be with their partners. 

This problem is in no way unique to the international student population. Anti-immigration laws that went into effect on April 1, 1997, pose difficult choices for all illegal immigrants. 

W. Lee, a 44-year-old Malaysian massage therapist, and J. Torres, a 38-year-old consultant from Colombia, are both in long-term relationships with American partners. Both refuse to do anything illegal to stay here, such as a "convenience marriage" and stress the importance of doing things the "right" way, and being able "to come out of the illegal immigration closet.” However, both fear what would happen to them if they were deported back to their home countries. (Constable 1997)

Lee states that "homosexuality is not accepted" in Malaysia, and he would have to go back into the closet or "lose everything," if he were forced to return. Torres came to the United States on a student visa that "expired about a decade ago" but does not want to return to Colombia, because "anyone openly gay in Colombia is ostracized. There are even social cleansing squads that hunt [homosexuals] down and attack them."

In recent years, the U.S. government has opened its doors to foreign-born homosexuals. In 1990, it repealed a longtime law barring them from immigrating; in 1994 it began allowing them to seek political asylum. Under the old immigration law, illegal immigrants could avoid deportation by proving that they would face economic or personal hardship if sent back to their native countries. The new law ... requires illegal immigrants to prove that deportation would cause "extreme hardship" to a spouse, child or parent who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent U.S. resident. (Constable 1997)

The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, in a 1997 publication, discussed the same change in law:

Previously, an alien could be granted suspension [of deportation] on a showing of extreme hardship to the alien or extreme hardship to the alien's U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent or child. Under the new law, cancellation will only be granted upon a showing of ... hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent or child.

A gay or lesbian visa applicant would have difficulty proving that deportation would cause extreme hardship to a spouse when gay and lesbian marriages are not recognized. Although the United States does grant political asylum to some gays and lesbians based on hardships or abuses experienced in their home country, it will be much harder for illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for years (to be with a partner, for example) to persuade a judge to let them stay. While Torres may be granted political asylum based on the abuse he would receive in Colombia because he is gay, Lee's lawyers think his case is too weak to win. (Constable 1997) 

The Honduran man quoted earlier says, "My partner and I are moving to Canada. My U.S. visa will expire soon and Canada allows us to immigrate together as a same sex couple."

Other Unique Issues Facing GLB Students

GLB students face other issues as well. As the world becomes smaller, particularly with the advent of e-mail, the threat of having one’s personal life become public knowledge back home can be a source of acute anxiety. A woman from Bermuda, an island of just 60,000 people, fears that if she comes out in the United States, word will get back to her home country, and she will not be able to get a job when she returns. A Danish student also tells of a gay friend from Bangladesh who was afraid that students from his home country would discover he was gay and leak the news to his family. Although some may wonder how realistic such fears are, a poignant case has been documented by an Indian woman in Lotus of Another Color: An Unfolding of the South Asian Gay and Lesbian Experience. The author's first "mature" lesbian love affair occurred while she was studying in the United States, but news traveled from the United States back to her father in India. (Ratti 1993) 

Respondents expressed concern over a lack of resources on identity-related issues. A Nigerian woman suggests that having people from her home country who identify as GLB with whom she could "discuss issues" would make life easier for her. Others, such as a woman from Taiwan, wish that their campus had an international GLB group. She states: 

It's hard to tell your American gay friends how ... it feel[s] being a gay and also a foreigner in the States and expect them to understand what you've been through. I would prefer to tell my story to another person who has [a] similar background. The GLB society should be more diverse than simply considering American gay people. 

Culture differences do not disappear in the GLB community, of course. Among my survey respondents, an Italian man, an Indian man, and a Taiwanese woman describe themselves as outsiders, even among the GLB community, based on the fact that they are from different cultures. For some, their core values or their views on what it means to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual differ significantly from those of the GLB student population, and GLB groups in the United States are not communities in which they feel comfortable. 

For international students in the GLB community, the term racism does not necessarily refer to the sort of overt problems that we typically associate with racism, such as name-calling or cross-burning, but instead refers to more subtle forms, described here by a male Malaysian undergraduate:

In Minnesota, cross-racial relationships ... are relatively rare. Most white people are not attracted to minorities, especially those around college age. For me, that created a sense of racial embarrassment that persisted for a while.... That has been hardest for me to adjust [to].... It's not outright racism, because people have multiracial friends, it's only [that] attraction across racial lines is absent or very much reduced.

One woman from Taiwan expresses her disappointment and disillusionment that racism exists "even in queer society," and quotes Audre Lorde's ironic question in her 1982 book, Zami: "Of course, gay people weren't racists. After all, didn't they know what it was like to be oppressed?" Racism does exist within the gay community, and some respondents perceive it to be a large problem. 

The survey revealed that religion continues as a source of anxiety and even hostility in the GLB community. Michael Ford, author of The World Out There: Becoming Part of the Lesbian and Gay Community, explains why: "Many people in the gay community see religion in all of its forms as one of the biggest enemies we have." After all, he says, many religious leaders tell us we are sinners and do not want us in their churches, temples, or synagogues. "Because of these attitudes, there is a lot of resentment, anger, and hostility toward religion in the gay community." Some GLB people who practice a religion may be regarded as traitors by much of the GLB community.

While many of our students revel in the freedom they feel at being away from home and in a more accepting environment, others feel quite restricted by the conservatism of American society. For example, the Danish student remarks that the United States feels very "old fashioned, uptight, and conservative" compared with his home country, and, therefore, he is more reluctant to come out to people in this country. The woman from the Netherlands agrees, describing the feelings she had when she arrived and was confronted with some of the "ignorant attitudes and biases" against gays and lesbians. "I was sent back in time approximately ten years," she said. Although she is involved with someone in this country and wants to stay here with her, she always looks forward to going home "because it gives me a chance to temporarily escape to a much more liberal and progressive place."

Support Networks and Services

Most of the respondents expressed a desire to have their issues addressed.

A strong support network is crucial for most university students, international or domestic, GLB or heterosexual. Some respondents stress the importance of support from peers from their home country, or at least the same region. Since GLB international students are a cross-section of minorities, it is important?though perhaps more difficult?to find people around whom they feel completely at ease. Two female graduate students, one African-Brazilian and one Taiwanese, express their experiences with multiple identities: 

I believe that the fact that I'm lesbian, Latina, black, from working-class background, etc., places me in a situation in which I have to struggle and explain to people the meaning of those intersections in my life. This multiplicity of identities is not easy to handle. 

Being a woman and a person of color, [I] have already ... experienced much social oppression and discrimination. The idea of becoming a lesbian is even scarier because [I] know now [I'll] have another "opportunity" to be oppressed.... Under these circumstances, probably the only "power" I'll retain is through ... knowledge?being an educated person.

In the survey, I asked students to rate how comfortable they felt on a scale of one to five?with one being "not at all comfortable" and five "completely comfortable?around certain groups of people they might encounter on campus. The groups included students from the home country, other international students from other countries, American students, GLB students from the same home country, GLB students from other countries, and GLB American students.

Respondents feel the most uncomfortable when their sexual indentity is known to students from their home country. Thirty-nine percent feel not at all comfortable or only sometimes comfortable being out to compatriots. The one group that students consistently feel most comfortable with, whether or not the students publicly identify as GLB, is American GLB students. These findings are consistent with other comments from respondents noting that they are unaware of other international GLB students on their campus, including their own countries. 

Although respondents stress the importance of support from peers from their home country, or a country similar to their own, these ratings reveal that GLB international students may not seek or receive the same level of support from their compatriots that their heterosexual counterparts do because of the hesitation to divulge their GLB identity. On the other hand, while they may feel the most comfortable with American GLB students, at least a few report feeling very much in the minority as an international student in the GLB campus organization. The combination of discomfort about divulging one's GLB identity to students from the same home country and cultural differences within the student GLB organization can lead to intense isolation.

Specific Sources of Support

Most respondents identify close friends as the most supportive resource. Many also seek GLB communities and resources off campus, such as GLB bookstores, dance clubs, coffeehouses and bars, political action groups, and support groups. Other sources of support include GLB campus organizations, celebrity role models such as Martina Navratilova, movie stars, rock stars, television personalities, poets, authors, clergy, counselors, and gay pride parades. Some have found that a particular class played a pivotal role in their development. A small handful have found support in a professor, the campus women's center, family members, partners, books, or a GLB campus religious group. Four respondents, three of whom are Asian, find that the GLB presence on the Internet "provides a tremendous degree of information to GLB persons in developing and accepting their sexuality." 

Only two respondents, one European and one Latin American, found the international student adviser particularly supportive. Forty-seven of my respondents (80 percent) did not even consider approaching an ISA to discuss GLB issues. Of the small number who did consider this as an option, five chose not to go to the adviser, six mentioned it to an adviser in casual conversation, and only two specifically brought up the topic for discussion with an adviser. The two who did bring it up describe having very positive experiences. The Latin American student says, "I felt very lonely upon arrival, so I talked with an ISA. Just coming out to someone and talking about it made me feel better. She made me feel very comfortable." In the European student’s case, the ISA was a lesbian, which made it easy for the student to discuss GLB issues with her.

Many respondents wish that the campus GLB group and the international student adviser were more helpful. Others mention international student groups, department faculty, administration, church, family, school in the home country, community gay center, heterosexual friends and society in general.

Bridging the Gap between ISAs and GLB International Students

The international student adviser is often an international student's first contact in the United States. In some cases, contact begins even before the student arrives, through the application and acceptance process. Once the student arrives, the ISA is usually the first person to greet an international student. The initial weeks are the most difficult for students because some of them have left the home country for the very first time, and many do not know anyone else at the school. As the first and primary contact throughout the orientation period, the international student adviser is in a position to identify herself or himself as a resource person and to demonstrate interest in the student's welfare?both academic and personal.

Some student survey respondents, however, believe that their ISA is "pragmatic," "patronizing," "not there for us to discuss personal issues," or "more concerned about the relationship with the university and the INS than with the students." Others feel that they would be more comfortable going to a counselor or another campus resource person. However, some believe the ISA is different enough from a counselor that he or she is in fact more approachable, since in some cultures, to go to a counselor implies that one is somehow sick or mentally weak. By the same token, people from some cultures feel much more comfortable confiding in someone with whom they already have a relationship, rather than confiding in a complete stranger, such as a counselor. Furthermore, most ISAs are likely to have an international perspective, which allows them to appreciate some situations that a counselor or GLB support group might balk at, such as an international student's fear of being out at home because of the effect it will have on his or her family's status in the community.

What an ISA Can Do

In view of the support needs voiced by the survey respondents, ISAs should consider learning more about GLB issues and presenting themselves as a potential resource for students. 

Many of us have been socialized to be uncomfortable with homosexuality and, by extension, with gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. The first step towards recognizing our own discomfort is to assess our attitudes towards homosexuality. It is important to know how willing we are to deal with gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues, and at what level we are willing to get involved with our GLB students. Are we best able to present a booklet of GLB resource information in orientation packets and refer students to those resources, or are we willing to work with the GLB resource center and with students to create educational programs and international GLB support groups? 

After getting a sense of your attitudes, evaluate the university's commitment to support GLB people, including students, faculty and staff. As a whole, does the university acknowledge and support the existence of GLB people on campus? The following questions, adapted from a list prepared by Evans and Wall (1991), will help.

  • Does the campus have GLB student organizations supported by student government funds? 
  • Does the campus counseling center have GLB support groups? 
  • Does the campus have a GLB faculty/staff association? 
  • Does the curriculum include courses on GLB history and culture? 
  • Does the institution's affirmative action statement include sexual orientation? 
  • Does the campus minority affairs office deal with sexual orientation issues? 
  • Does the student handbook or conduct code include a clear statement prohibiting harassment and discrimination of minorities and GLB people? 
  • Does the housing office grant room changes on the basis of sexual orientation or must danger to the resident be demonstated? 
  • Does my professional or student staff include openly GLB people? 
  • Does our office have a strong commitment to treat all people equally? Is this as evident with our GLB populations as it is with other minorities? 
  • Are GLB colleagues encouraged to bring their significant others or partners to office or campus social events? 
If you do not know the answers to some of these questions, do some investigation. If the answers are negative, explore the idea of making a few changes on campus.

After assessing yourself and your institution, the next step is to learn about GLB issues, both in the United States and around the world. GLB sensitivity training, GLB resource centers, conferences, books and some websites are excellent sources of information. A book, video, and web resource list devoted to international GLB information is available from the author.

Student respondents offer a variety of ideas for how ISAs can be more supportive.

  • At orientation, provide all new students with a campus GLB resource guide and announce that the ISA office is open to discussion of GLB issues. 
  • Create a “safe” environment by displaying GLB resource materials, books, posters, and pink triangles or "safe space" signs. 
  • Do not assume heterosexuality in conversations with students. 
  • Offer sensitivity training on GLB issues for ISA staff. 
  • Offer support and advice on immigration for GLB people whose partners are U.S. citizens. Provide support and referrals to students from home countries where homosexuality is illegal or the environment is dangerous for GLB people. Political asylum is sometimes granted by the United States, Canada, and some European countries on this basis. 
  • Sponsor educational opportunities, such as international GLB discussion groups, forums, seminars, and films. 
How should you respond to a student who approaches you to discuss sexual identity? Besner and Spungin (1995) offer the following guidelines:
  • Do not act surprised when someone comes out to you. They have decided that you can be trusted. 
  • Deal with students’ feelings first. Most gay and lesbian people who are just coming out feel alone, afraid, and guilty. You can help by listening and allowing them to unburden themselves. 
  • Be supportive. Explain that many people have struggled with homosexuality. Acknowledge that dealing with one's sexuality is difficult. Keep the door open for further conversations and assistance. 
  • Assess the student's knowledge of homosexuality. Replace misinformation with knowledge. Don't assume that gays and lesbians who are just coming out know a lot about homosexuality. We have all been exposed to myths and stereotypes, so it is helpful to provide clarification. 
  • Use nonjudgmental, all-inclusive language in your discussion. Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues from the students. Do not label or categorize. 
  • Respect confidentiality. 
  • Reexamine your own biases so as to remain a neutral source of information and support. 
  • Know when and where to seek help. Know the referral agencies and counselors on campus and in your area. 
Besner and Spungin add that the most important thing to remember is to "accept the individual as a total human being?do not limit your interest to his or her sexual orientation.”

International students who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual have a number of unique issues that may surface during their time in the United States. Informed international student advisers are in an excellent position to support these students and help them deal with their concerns. Let students know they are welcome to discuss personal issues with you, and refer them to other resources when appropriate. Finally, a reentry program can help students make a smooth transition back to the home country. 

?Nadine Kato is the international student adviser in the Office of International Students and Scholars at the University of Nevada, Reno. The foregoing article is based on the author's research for a master's degree in intercultural and international management from the School of International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Bibliography

Besner, Hilda and Charlotte Spungin. 1995. Gay and Lesbian Students: Understanding Their Needs. Washington, DC: Taylor and Francis.

Constable, Pamela. April 23, 1997. "Fighting for Their Lives: New Law Gives Gay Illegal Immigrants Fewer Ways to Stop Deportation," Washington Post. 

Ford, Michael. 1996. The World Out There: Becoming Part of the Lesbian and Gay Community. New York: New Press.

Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force. Winter 1997. Task Force Update. New York.

Lorde, Audre. 1982. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Watertown, MA: Persephone Press.

Moses, A. Elfin and Robert O. Hawkins. 1985. “Two-Hour In-Service Training Session on Homophobia.” In Lesbian and Gay Issues, ed. H. Hidalgo, T. Peterson, and N. Goodman. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.

Ratti, Rakesh. 1993. Lotus of Another Color: An Unfolding of the South Asian Gay and Lesbian Experience. Boston: Alyson Publications.

Copyright 1998 NAFSA: Association of International Educators. All rights reserved. International Educator, a quarterly magazine, and NAFSA.news, a weekly bulletin distributed by electronic mail, are benefits of membership in NAFSA.

http://www.indiana.edu/~overseas/lesbigay/kato.html

International Educator, 
VOLUME VIII, 
NO. 1

Copyright © 1998 by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. 
All rights reserved.

NAFSA Home Page






The Daily Orange

Gay Asian SU students lament difficulties finding niche on campus

By Krystle Davis

Published: Friday, November 18, 2005
Updated: Sunday, March 7, 2010 15:03


The Killian Room in the Hall of Languages buzzed with casual conversation Thursday night.

Students gathered for "Gaysians," the fourth event of the second Asian Awareness Week held at Syracuse University.

About 25 students and one faculty member attended the two-hour discussion, which dealt with issues relating to gays and Asians, as well as the dynamic of being both gay and Asian.

Kappa Phi Lambda, an Asian-interest sorority, and Delta Lambda Phi, a progressive fraternity, co-sponsored the forum.

The discussion went well, but it would have been even better if more people had attended, said Nam-Hee Chung, the president of Kappa Phi Lambda and a senior management student. Chung said while the turnout at this week's events marks an improvement from last year's, she wishes more students would have attended the dialogue.

Wednesday's event, a talent show held in the Schine Student Center Underground, drew a crowd of about 80 people, Chung said.

"I liked (the forum), but I wish more people who weren't specifically interested in the topic would have come," said Connie Chen, an undecided freshman enrolled in The College of Arts and Sciences.

A recurring topic of discussion during the "Gaysians" forum was the presence of racial stereotypes in the media. Chung passed around a Details magazine article published in April 2004 titled "Gay or Asian?" Most students said they found the article offensive because of the stereotypes it perpetuated about gays and Asians.

However, one student who identified himself as a gay, Asian male said he did not consider the article homophobic. He argued that the magazine regularly covers issues pertaining to gay culture.

Several students said they consider the portrayal of Gwen Stefani's entourage, the Harajuku Girls, offensive. Some said they find it disturbing that Stefani has Japanese women trailing behind her who never speak, and this image perpetuates stereotypes about the submissiveness of Asian women.

Another topic discussed was how Asian women on campus are sometimes the target of inappropriate advances.

"People under the influence of alcohol say a lot more (offensive) things," Chen said.

She said she takes offense when white males call out "konichiwa" to her because she is Korean, not Japanese.

Some in attendance shared personal stories about the experience of coming out to their families. Chen told the group that although her mother knows she is a lesbian, she still occasionally asks her about finding a boyfriend.

"I would love to see this dialogue continue elsewhere," Chung said.

http://www.dailyorange.com/2.8657/gay-asian-su-students-lament-difficulties-finding-niche-on-campus-1.1239362




Development of APA LGBT Communities

Asian Pacific American LGBT people face vastly different forms of discrimination attributed to gender and sexual exploitation and objectification.

This study explores the balance between being both queer and Asian Pacific American in the context of community building. It also helps to identify ways to build an inclusive movement for social change.

Some have observed that APA LGBT people are more visible in the LGBT community than they are in the mainstream APA community. For example, Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) is often solicited by LGBT groups to cosponsor their events, in an effort to demonstrate some level of inclusion and coalition building, but non-LGBT APA groups almost never solicit the group. This may be due to homophobia and transphobia in non-LGBT APA groups as well as the self-isolation in the LGBT community of APA LGBT people.

In the LGBT community, some people of color groups already hold more established, mostly white organizations accountable to their commitments to racial diversity. Likewise, mainstream APA advocacy and social service groups must also be held accountable to the needs of all of their constituents, including those of all sexual orientations, and gender identities and expressions. In 2000, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders shed light on some of these issues.9 This study aims to inspire and develop APA LGBT groups to be just as engaged in the Asian American community as they are in the LGBT community. One barrier to building an inclusive movement for LGBT rights, as well as political enfranchisement and activism is language. Almost half (43%) of the nation’s Asian Pacific Americans over 18 are limited English proficient and four out of five (81%) speak a language other than English in their homes.10 Yet, LGBT organizing is almost exclusively done in English. No LGBT publication in the U.S. is written in any Asian language. Because large parts of the APA community are not fluent in English, APA LGBT groups must reach out to and serve limited-English proficient members of the community.

Another division in APA LGBT organizing is gender. APA LGBT people face vastly different forms of discrimination attributed to gender and sexual exploitation and objectification. Men are often portrayed in an asexual manner while women are hypersexualized. These are illustrated in the few mainstream media images of APA men and women and the history of sexually-exploitative Asian-exotic themed LGBT community events. While men’s groups have long created predominantly social spaces, women’s groups sought activism and political spaces. Men’s groups are strong locally; women’s groups have historically been strong regionally and nationally. This complicates opportunities for collaboration.

Young people are a key underserved constituency. (At the Queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, however, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were disproportionately over-represented. This may be due to the conference’s location, at a university, and to the avenues through which the conference was publicized.) Though many APA LGBT youth are active in various organizations and campaigns, mentoring and leadership development are key community challenges. For college-aged youth, many are involved in campus organizations and campaigns, but after graduation fail to continue their activism. Perhaps community groups have failed to provide entrees for transition. Similarly, some transgender APA people, namely male to female, may not be underrepresented at social outlets, like bars and clubs. But they too, along with all other transgender persons are often missing from organizations that purport to represent all LGBT people. APA LGBT activism must be inclusive and strive to find ways to ensure that the APA community and organizations are represented in their full diversity.

Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, pages 11-12"




Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 5"




Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 6"




Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 37"




Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 40"




Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 42"





Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 26"



Conclusion

Respondents in this sample reported being more comfortable working in predominantly white LGBT environments than they did working in predominantly straight APA environments.

This report documents elements of the lives and experience of some Asian Pacific American LGBT people. The individuals surveyed represent voices usually missing from research on the APA community and the LGBT community. Given some of the crucial findings reported in this study, there is a clear need for additional research and policy analysis by, for, and about APA LGBT people. While it does not purport to speak for all APA LGBT people, this study serves as a foundation that will enrich future organizing efforts and research into the intersections of identity, race, and sexuality.

This study documents the diversity of experiences, identities, needs, and political perspectives that exist within the larger LGBT and APA communities in the U.S. It details and validates a myriad of APA LGBT experiences. For those already familiar with these issues and communities, the findings in this study may not be new or surprising. Social activists and researchers can utilize the findings documented herein as a basis to advocate for and implement policy changes at the local, state, and national levels.

The policy issues about which there was much consensus among survey respondents included immigration; combating hate violence and harassment; media representations; issues related to health care, in particular HIV/AIDS; the economy/jobs; and language barriers.

Respondents reported experiencing significant homophobia in the APA community and racism in the LGBT community. It is interesting to note that respondents in this sample reported being more comfortable working in predominantly white LGBT environments than they did working in predominantly straight APA environments. Predominately straight APA organizations and predominately white LGBT organizations must expand efforts to serve all members of their communities, including Asian and Pacific American LGBT people.

Dang, Alain and Mandy Hu, "Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: A Community Portrait a report from New York's queer Asian Pacific Legacy Conference, 2004, page 43"




Being Gay Asian American

Critics of a new study say gay Asian Americans don't have to choose between sexual or ethnic identity.

Lisa Wong
Posted in Features, Volume 37 No. 17


Young, American-raised Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) often have to choose whether their ethnic or sexual identity will take precedence, according to a study published in the Journal of LGBT Youth by Boston University Medical Center.

The study, by Hyeouk Chris Hahm, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Social Work, and Chris Adkins, an HIV/AIDS clinical social worker, surveyed 1,000 Boston University API adolescents and young adults between the ages of 18 and 27 years-old who said they were attracted to the same sex.

The conflict of choosing one identity over the other is attributed to a unique set of challenges that the survey group's western or Caucasian peers do not face. The study's researchers also maintain that these challenges can lead to rejection from their families who emigrated to the U.S. and stigmatization by the larger Asian community. Both young men and women often mask homosexual behaviors to avoid alienating their family and parents' communities, said the study's researchers.

"For instance, in South Korea, where male children have obligations to marry and create a traditional notion of family, homosexuality is considered a deviant behavior that brings family dishonor and shame," the study states, citing cultural barriers as the main cause for a sense of fear and inability in accepting a sexual identity.

The study, however, draws fire from critics who say many LGBT APIs don't encounter a conflict of choice. Instead, critics say LGBT APIs face no more difficulty than colleagues of other ethnicities in integrating both cultural and sexual identities.

Dr. Connie So, Senior Lecturer of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, has been teaching Asian American Studies since 1989. "As a teacher, the number of people who I knew were gay was not an issue," Dr. So said, also noting that many of her students and friends "have not had any problems" synthesizing both cultural and sexual identities.

Of students who have "come out" to her in class writing assignments, Dr. So said most were of Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese ethnicity. "I would actually say that none of them had problems coming out to their parents," Dr. So said.

Thirty-two-year-old Kieu-Anh King, a Legislative Assistant at the City of Seattle, came out to his family when he was 19 years-old.

"I anticipated the worst," King said. "But instead, my mom was more concerned with, 'Are you dropping out of school? Are you still going to work? Are you still going to take care of me when I'm older?' My family would've been much more ashamed of me if I had dropped out of school or if I had committed a crime…than if I get married to a partner."

Some critics of the study argue that APIs don't have to mask their sexual identity because there is little homosexual stigmatization in the API community.

"When I think about the gay communities, they're always mixed with Asian Americans," Dr. So said of the West Coast. "Many of my students who worked in these areas…say they always have outreach in Asian communities for gays and lesbians."

Ben de Guzman, Co-Director of Programs for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), has garnered the support of more than 30 regional Asian American organizations across the US to promote LGBT outreach initiatives. "It's the role of NQAPIA to help support their work locally, and to amplify their voice on a national scale," de Guzman said of affiliated organizations.

Another aspect of the study that critics disagree with is the study's definition of "identity," which they claim is based on Western ideals.

Dr. So states that in her work and research, the definition of "identity" is different in many Asian cultures. "To a lot of Asian gays, they're gay but it's not their identity. It's not choosing one or the other," Dr. So said. "In America, people wear their sexuality as their primary identity. That's because they're fighting the dominant norm of heterosexuality. To a lot of other countries, sex is private."

Chong-suk Han, an Assistant Professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, teaches sociology with an emphasis on race and sexuality. Dr. Han, who is also gay, believes that many Asian Americans have accepted a Western stereotype of what it means to be gay.

"The Western stereotype of being gay is to 'come out' and wear a big sign that says 'I'm gay,'" Dr. Han said. "Even the act of telling your parents becomes such a huge deal. Part of it is because it's in the Western gay narrative and that being gay means telling everyone you love that you're gay."

In Asian cultures, critics of the study argue that a person's identity is more reflective of their ethnicity and religion and that an identity takes on several different roles.

"We all wear different hats and become different identities," Dr. Han said. "Identities like being gay and being Asian are similar in that they come out and take more salience depending on where we are and who we're with."

King, who is Vietnamese, agrees that his identity is both cultural and sexual but that neither is "more dominant than the other."

"You don't necessarily have to have your sexual identity so prominent and so public or as something that defines you," King said.

http://www.iexaminer.org/news/features/gay-asian-american/



http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Coming_out_as_gay_and_South_Asian-6882.aspx
Coming out as gay and South Asian
EDUCATION / South Asian gay group brings workshops to schools

REACHING OUT TO YOUTH. Amar Sangha (right, with co-presenter Ashley Wolfe) wants to bring his Dosti workshops to Surrey schools this fall, where the South Asian population is as much as 25 percent.

(Christine McAvoy photo)

Amar Sangha wantsto see a day when all queer people can feel safe and secure about their sexuality and their culture. But as a queer person who comes from a South Asian culture, it's not always easy being out, he says.

"Sexuality and gender issues are not discussed in our community," explains Sangha. "Queer youth are very isolated and fearful."

A year ago, the social worker and masters student started a group called Sher Vancouver, a gay social and support group for South Asian people and their friends, families and allies.

"It's very difficult to come out, get information and resources. We provide peer support, information, and referrals," he says.

Sangha often gets calls from families who feel they can relate more easily to another South Asian person who understands the culture.

"They're afraid they might be labelled or it won't be confidential or the community might find out they might be gay."

Sangha says he likes supporting people on an individual basis. But more needed to be done.

So now he, along with Sher's youth outreach worker Ashley Wolfe, are broadening the discussion and addressing homophobia directly through a new series of school workshops they're calling the Dosti Project.

Dosti means "friendship" in many South Asian languages. "We decided," says Sangha, "it would be a positive title for the project to empower people and create a positive space."

Based on the model created by Out in Schools, the idea behind the Dosti Project is to have at least one South Asian person go along with others into classes to talk about coming out.

The workshops begin by depicting coming out scenarios, then open the floor to students so they can talk about their feelings if they or someone they know is queer.

Sangha then tells his coming out story as a gay South Asian.

"It's an important time of forming your identity," says Wolfe, who is straight but knows what it's like to be part of a cultural minority. "Youth need empowerment and support. They just need a friend to talk to. Coming from a counselling background, I know they struggle."

"Also," Sangha chimes in, "I want her [Wolfe] to speak from a straight perspective as well because the majority of our audience is going to be straight."

In the workshops, they talk about stereotypes like "all gay men are stylish" or "all lesbians are butchy" and they explain the implications of saying "that's so gay" about something that really isn't gay at all.

The workshops are geared towards challenging the students to be aware of how they make people feel like outsiders with a lot of the terminology they use.

The idea is to put it all on the table and talk about what those words mean to people.

"There's a certain element of fear that you're going to be bullied or tormented in your own group," says Wolfe. "We can clear the misconceptions, answer the difficult questions and then there shouldn't be so much fear."

Sangha has already made one presentation at Van Tech Secondary School, but the real prize for him is Surrey schools where the South Asian population is as much as 25 percent.

With Surrey's history of banning gay-friendly books in the past, Sangha was a little worried the board would not accept his group. But he says the district's associate manager of safe schools, Rob Rae, has been very open to it.

"That [the Dosti Project] is something we would look at," says Rae. "We're going through the process of seeing how we could work with one another and if it's a possibility."

Rae is quick to point out that several Surrey high schools now have gay-straight alliances and thinks the Dosti Project would work well with one of those programs.

But with the school year quickly coming to an end, Sangha is looking towards the fall for a launch south of the Fraser.

The Dosti workshops were designed with feedback from BC's first gay-straight alliance founder Romi Chandra, James Chamberlain of the BC Teachers' Federation, and Steve Mulligan of the Vancouver School Board.

The project is funded by the CORSA (South Asian) Foundation, the Gay and Lesbian Educators of BC, and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division).

With plans to bring the Dosti Project into schools across the Lower Mainland well underway, Sangha is hoping more people will help volunteer. "If they want to volunteer," says Sangha, "they can email me. They can talk to their teacher or principal to get a presentation in their school."
http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Coming_out_as_gay_and_South_Asian-6882.aspx



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