TO BE SEEN IS TO BE KNOWN

The Queer Asian community exists but is not visible. We are not visible in Western Media or many other ordinary spaces and, in my experience as a Queer South Asian woman, it has made it difficult to find a sense of belonging or community. When we are not seen, we are not known. That sense of loneliness is overpowering. Rarely are all Asian ethnicities recognized. And just as rarely are all identities of queerness celebrated, especially within Asian representation. This project was born out of a somewhat selfish desire to find a community and place of belonging as a Queer Asian.

 

The Queer Asian Social Club started out as The Gaysian Project. A community that had its roots in a conversation about Queer Asian Representation in the media. In 2018, I developed a panel for a queer fandom convention to explore Queer Asian Representation in the Media. The intent was to create a space where Asians and Queer Asians talk critically about the lack of meaningful representation in Western Media, and, most importantly, where Queer Asians were visible. We presented the panel at the convention in Las Vegas to a standing-room-only audience, which was incredible. I am still reeling from how powerful it was to feel seen as Queer and Asian, and to find a sense of community with other Queer Asians and allies. To go from not seeing myself in the media and feeling as if my identifies were only meaningful as tokens to feeling seen and known? I still don't have the words to describe the power and effect this experience created. Throughout the weekend people at the convention came up to my fellow panelists and me to share their experiences as Asians and Queer Asians, and emphasized for me that we need to be more visible to foster a greater sense of validation and community. And so, this community was born.

 

It has been incredible to watch our community grow over the past two years. What started out as a panel on representation at a small queer convention in Las Vegas has grown into a platform where new stories and faces from our queer and trans-APISWAD (Asian-Pacific Islander-Southwest Asian-Desi) family were celebrated through podcast episodes, events, and Instagram takeovers. It became a platform where we proudly wear our identity; where we built a space in which our visibility empowered each other around the world and helped so many of us feel less alone in our identities.

 

We have been wanting to make this space even more community-focused. While The Gaysian Project will always hold a special place in our hearts, we wanted an identity that complemented our vision and is more inclusive of the myriad of beautiful identities that are a part of our queer and trans community. The Gaysian Project was a name that fun, concisely captured our humor, but also wasn’t completely inclusive.  

 

I rarely identify as gaysian and I know many folks don’t either. Creating a space that is inclusive is important, and equally important is that the name of that space is inclusive as well – and represents something where we hope folks will feel that their identities are more fully celebrated.

 

As such, we are now the Queer Asian Social Club focusing on sharing and celebrating stories of individuals and activists in our community through our weekly web-zine DIS-ORIENT,  our instagram page, and our podcast the Queer Asian Podcast Club! While our name is changing, the core of who we remains the same. We are a collective that is focused on using visibility to empower community for queer and trans-APISWAD folks.

 

We are here to be seen and known.

with love,

Maya Reddy

MEET THE TEAM

  • MAYA REDDY

    SHE/HER

    To quote a recent review of our podcast, “to the ears, she’s just a girl from Southern California” Maya is the founder of the Queer Asian Social Club, a queer Desi, former professional golfer, LGBTQ+ athlete activist, Athlete Ally ambassador, a Toll Public Interest Scholar in the University of Pennsylvania Law School class of 2022, and most importantly Genovia’s Secretary of Defense.

    Maya founded the Queer Asian Social Club in 2018 out of a somewhat selfish desire to find the community and a sense of belonging as a Queer Asian. QASC was born as a way to feel seen and known, to find family, and to celebrate all the nuances and beauty of being queer and Asian—a space where she has finally found belonging. Maya is definitely the team member posting on Instagram about kombucha being Asian culture.

    @MAYASREDDY

  • JAMIE LEW

    SHE/HER

    Jamie is an artist, art director, and culture creator. Unlimited by artistic medium, Jamie has created & designed touring concerts, live spectacles, art installations, theatrical sets, dance films, music videos, motion graphics, illustrations, websites, and love letters all over the world. No matter the medium, Jamie believes that visual design is a vital storytelling device—capable of magnifying the intangible heart to a world full of strangers. 

    Jamie began working with QASC in the summer of 2019 by throwing a Sunday Funday in Los Angeles. She is the editor-in-chief and designer of QASC’s DIS-ORIENT webzine, as well as the occasional graphics designer of QASC merch. As a self-appointed Gaysian Icon, Jamie hopes to make you proud. 

    @THEJAMIELEW

  • LEO ALYASHAA

    HE/SHE/THEY

    As the QASC’s resident Gen Z and only bb of the group, Leo is in charge of UX/ SEO/ Advertising/ Social Media & Publicity. Leo has a diverse background in brand and media execution—with a focus on Traditional and Digital advertising, working with a variety of clients with a focus on storytelling. Responsibilities of the Social Club include: yes. 

    Leo began their work with QASC when it was known as “The Gaysian Project,” from an interaction they haven’t forgotten between them and Maya—about which of the two could make the best Biryani. To this day, Leo still thinks they have Maya beat. Keyword is THINKS. 

    @LEONARDALYASHAA

  • MANI SOMA AKA KAMANI SUTRA

    ALL PRONOUNS WITH RESPECT

    Mani Soma is a genderqueer persxn from South India, Hyderabad. Mani has worked with Queer Campus Hyderabad and helped organize two queer flash mobs in Osmania University/ Public Gardens in Hyderabad to raise awareness for LGBTQ people. Since moving to the United States in 2016, Mani has been on the board of Khushdc (a South Asian LGBTQ organization in the DMV area), facilitating a peer-support group, organizing social and fundraising events, and advocating for the community. Mani’s zeal and passion for dance and art has led to the creation of the drag persona, KaMani Sutra. KaMani sutra (She/hers/ProgressiveAunty)is a South Asian (teluGAY) genderqueer bearded drag artist from Washington DC, transcending western drag expectations with their performances and aesthetics. #telugay  #progressiveaunty

    Mani joined the QASC team in 2020, serving as outreach coordinator and story contributor to the DIS-ORIENT webzine.

    @KAMANI_SUTRA_

  • DEAN

    ANY PRONOUNS

    Dean is a queer, Southeast Asian artist  currently attending college to pursue a degree in graphic design. As a first-generation Asian American, they are just trying to find a way through this world by simply creating. Dean has recently become a part of the QASC team and hopes to continue making great things with them.

    IG: @MIIXXAO / TWITTER: @MIIXXAO

ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS

ANDIE WHEATLEY | PRODUCING & CMO
 

HANNAH DUNHAM, ESQ. | CLO
          

NICOLE ESPINOSA | PRODUCING
 

MITCH DAO | PHOTOGRAPHY

CHRISTIAN QUIAMBAO | DESIGN

ROBERT DIEP | BRANDING & LOGO DESIGN

PEYTON EMERY | GRAPHIC DESIGN

 

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