Participant Pada Lo (right) and Shades of Yellow Board Chair Pheng Thao (left) posing for the camera at the opening dinner July 9, 2010 at Pagoda Dinkytown.
MINNEAPOLIS (July 9, 2010) – The first ever National Queer Southeast Asian Conference took place at the Radisson University Hotel in Minneapolis last weekend. The conference was hosted by Shades of Yellow, the Twin Cities Hmong Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ) organization, and provided a space for Southeast Asians and allies from around the country to discuss issues that are important to the Queer Southeast Asian communities.
The event started off with an opening dinner on Friday at Pagoda Dinkytown where State Senators Scott Dibble (DFL-60) and Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-62) spoke of their support of the Queer API movement along with PFund Board Chair Lupe Castillo.
Although US Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN) could not make it to the event, he sent his support through his Field Representative Amy Hang, who spoke on his behalf.
Hang read a letter from Franken, in which he stated, “I am proud to be leading the effort in the Senate to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide an equal right against discrimination in school to LGBTQ youth across the country. Ensuring that the Uniting American Families Act becomes law is also one of my priorities…so that LGBTQ Americans can sponsor their partners for a green card and keep their families together.”
State Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-67) also sent support throug Legislative Assistant James Chang, who encouraged Queer Southeast Asians to “continue to better yourselves, encourage and support each other, so that we may all be represented at the table, to ensure equal rights and equal treatment for all.”
Participants were able to attend workshops all day on Saturday which included, Coming out/Growing up Queer as Southeast Asian, LGBTQ in Southeast Asia vs. America, Queer Immigrant’s Rights, Creating Queer API Safe Spaces & Organizations, and Women, Gays, Trans, Ally and Youth Caucuses.
This conference was organized by the Queer Southeast Asian Network which includes member organizations: Shades of Yellow in Minneapolis; Providence Youth Student Movement in Providence, RI; Freedom Inc. in Madison, WI and Khmer in Action in Seattle.
“We saw a need for a safe space to hold deep and critical conversations on being queer and Southeast Asian,” said Kevin Xiong, executive director, Shades of Yellow. “Along with the Queer Southeast Asian Census, which is to collect data and information on Queer Southeast Asians, the conference came together as a collaboration project.”
The conference was made possible with many co-sponsors including Asian American Pacific Islander in Philanthropy, API Equality North California, The ASTRAEA Foundation, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Association, Queer Student Cultural Center, Pagoda Restaurant, Queer Graduate and Professional Student Association, Radisson University Hotel, Resist Inc., SEIU Healthcare MN, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center, and the GLBTQ Programs Office at the University of Minnesota.
SOY is located at 379 University Ave. W #213, St. Paul, MN 55103. Call 651-309-0037 or email [email protected] Visit online at http://shadesofyellow.org.