Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
July 8, 2011
Share Your Story At Our Family Presentation Banquet
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Our Family Presentation Banquet
We had our first planning meeting to stage this year’s Family Presentation Banquet. Staging it is an arduous, time-consuming task. Each year we ask if we should have the banquet every other year instead of every year so we free up time and resources for other projects that need to be done. But each year we decide to go ahead and have the banquet, because the power of testimony that emerges from each of the seven banquets we have staged is a powerful antidote for all the negative currents encountered the rest of the year. The why and what of our banquet are on our website, but the individual stories of love and acceptance are its precious gems. Tears actually flow, hugs are shared unabashedly, and we receive moving comments long after the banquet is over.
We Collect Personal Stories
We strongly believe that personal stories are our strongest weapon in the struggle for equal human rights. We collect them and support anybody else who collects them. What can be more revealing about the sense of isolation than parents from Malaysia who unconditionally accepted and honored their lesbian daughter, telling us in open wonder during our first banquet that they thought they were the only ones. Is there a more telling testimony about the iron grip of cultural beliefs than a mother who said when her husband expelled her transgender child from hearth and home: “What could I do, I am a Chinese wife.” Is there a better way to gauge courage and devotion than that same mother defying tradition and accepting and taking care of her HIV infected child: “Man or woman, I have my child back.”
There Is A Role For Statistics
Personal stories should remain as anecdotes and never be aggregated into statistical abstractions. Don’t get us wrong, statistics help measure progress toward our goal and tell us that we are getting there. In May of last year a Gallup poll found that 52 per cent of Americans find that gay relationships are morally acceptable. A CBS poll around that same time found that LGBT persons are more visible: more people acknowledge knowing an LGBT person than before and more people admit having an LGBT relative or close friend. These are indicators of an inexorable shift in the right direction. It motivates us and it will probably help change people’s minds. But for the work at our level, unlike Chad Griffin, we haven’t seen many “dark walls of discrimination crumble.” When an API LGBT comes out to his or her family, tragedy still happens, the stigma is still there, strongly.
Back to Our Family Presentation Banquet
The heart of our banquet is API LGBT persons honoring parents or other family members who remained steadfast and continued to love and honor them when they came out. They stand, nominator and nominee, center stage in front of a microphone and talk of mutual love and respect:
“Thank you for being my lifeline when I came out.”
“Thank you for this opportunity to express how privileged, blessed, and proud I am to have such parents.”
“You are my daughter and I will love you no matter what, as long as you are happy.”
“You are our face to the world. Gay or straight we are so proud of you.”
Do you have someone you wish to honor at our banquet? Sharing your story changes other stories. E-mail us.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org