Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
March 4, 2011
The Times They Are A Changing, But Very Unevenly
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Banquet as Milestone
We attended GAPA’s (Gay Asian Pacific Alliance) 22nd banquet last Saturday. We went to support an ally and with the intention of spending some festive times with friends and colleagues of long standing and have light conversations around a table loaded down with good food. We did that, but with the conversations came the sudden and unexpected realization that times are not just changing, but changing at wildly different rates. GAPA was born in January 1988 to, as someone at our table said, provide “a family” for gay Asian men who were isolated from their families. Back then coming out was difficult for APIs and families usually rejected those who did. GAPA was to be a safe space for socializing, community building, and becoming politically involved. Though the need for all that is still there, the need for a GAPA has lessened because a younger generation uses extensive electronic networking to do what GAPA did back then. And so, after a mere 23 years, GAPA finds itself searching for a different purpose to harness the knowledge and experience gained over the years.
Things Have Changed . . .
Before the 1969 Stonewall riots, America was virally anti-LGBT with laws on the books allowing police raids of LGBT favorite gathering places. Forty plus years later, LGBTs can serve in the military, the federal Department of Justice no longer defends the Defense of Marriage Act, states are passing laws for equal rights and marriage equality, and polls find that Americans are more and more inclined to view being LGBT as less and less unusual. June is the official gay pride month and almost every major city has a gay pride parade then. And in our own state, our attorney general urged courts to allow the resumption of same sex marriages, while courts take their time to sort out Proposition 8.
. . . But Some Things Are Still the Same
Although LGBTs can serve in the military, they do not enjoy spousal rights. Religious leaders and conservative politicians are threatening major battles to reinstate the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and to retain the Defense of Marriage Act. In some states marriage equality gains have been reversed and in others the battle has stalled. Newt Gingrich, a possible GOP candidate for president, helped raise $200,000 for a campaign to remove three Iowa supreme court judges who voted for marriage equality. And in Michigan, the state senate moved to overturn health benefits for same sex partners. And from where we sit, there will be this for a very, very long time: “How do I start a conversation with my family to tell them that I am LGBT?”
Social justice change is like an amoeba. It is shapeless blob of cytoplasm and when it moves part of its cytoplasm flows around any obstacle in its path while the rest continues forward. Taking time to dissolve the obstacles, the amoeba’s forward progress is relentless and implacable.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org