The Banquet

Family is a central concept in Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. APIs are raised in extensive family and social networks and grow up with corresponding expectations about identity, mutual aid, and interdependence. Belonging to a family and being socially accepted beyond the family are important and vital attributes of an API’s worldview. API LGBTs, therefore, do not readily come out to their families fearing that the stigma attached to a different sexual identity may bring their families shame and isolation. Many API parents and other family members have difficulties dealing with this sensitive topic. Belinda Dronkers-Laureta, API Family Pride’s Executive Director, has famously said: “When API LGBTs come out of the closet, their families go in.” Many families struggle with their own “coming out” process, grappling with conflicted feelings and fearing harsh judgment from other family members and the community as a whole. Sadly, some API families reject their LGBT members once they disclose their alternate sexual orientation. For API LGBTs this contributes to the trauma during what is already an emotionally and socially challenging period in their lives.

Fortunately, there are examples where the opposite happens: where love, loyalty, and courage combine to overcome homophobia and silence threadbare traditions.  Many API LGBT people have the open love and acceptance of parents, siblings and relatives, but often these families’ “coming out” struggles and successes remain private ones, kept close to heart and home. It is important that these private stories of love and courage come to be shared by others to serve as an inspiration to the API community and most especially to young API LGBTs who are just coming out to their families.