Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
March 16, 2012
API Family Pride’s Annual Banquet Celebrates Being A Family
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
You may have heard this. API family immigrates to America; son or daughter comes out as LGBT; parents are distraught, blame America: LGBT is an “American disease”. You may not have heard that “coming out” is also American, not necessarily a disease, but definitely another bad American trait. Of course, LGBT is neither a disease nor American, but “coming out” may just be uniquely an American or, at least, a uniquely Western trait.
In a research proposal a couple of years back, we wrote that in America, LGBT persons come out because they can; it is part of the norm. Sharing personal information is a way to release stressful emotions, show trust, and form bonds. It is also a way to seek help and find solutions. But it is not the API way. API parents may not understand the meaning that coming out holds for their American schooled children.
API Parents With LGBT Children Face Coming Out Too
Parents of API LGBT persons face a double quandary: one, their child is LGBT and all the implications that that carries, and, two, he or she is announcing their sexuality to the world. We have witnessed the confusion, despair, anger, and sadness of API parents with LGBT children. “Why is he or she doing this to me?” and “Why does he or she have to tell everybody?” are two common laments. Belinda famously said that when LGBT children come out of the closet, their parents go in.
Many API parents of LGBT children feel utterly alone. They don’t know anything about LGBT. They have no one to talk to because they don’t know anybody with the same “problem.”
API Family Pride’s Banquet
There are exceptions. API parents who went into the closet, but emerged to remain parents in the full meaning of that word: supporting and guiding their children into adulthood and celebrating them for who they are.
About eight years ago, API Family Pride thought that parents who came out of the closet could serve as role models for parents having a difficult time coming out. We organized the API Family Pride Presentation Banquet. The idea was to create an event where API LGBT children and their parents tell the different stories of their coming out. There would be food and entertainment, but the event’s centerpiece is when API LGBT child and parent take center stage and tell their story of coming out. Those are incredible, emotion-laden moments; tears flow.
Over the years, we realized that our Banquet is more than LGBT children and parents telling their story. We are grasping to explain the emotion that so moves those who are there. It is about being Asian, being part of an Asian family; it is about ancient family rhythms that make us who we are, honoring a wisdom acquired by previous generations and brought over to a new land; it is about belonging.
On June 2 we celebrate our Banquet for this year. You are invited to come and feel the evening for yourself.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org