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.