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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Duong

AAPI and Queer?

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Do you identify as part of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) and LGBTQIA+/queer community? Maybe you identify as AAPI but are unsure about whether you identify as queer as well. This blog may be helpful to those beginning their own gender/sexual identity exploration.

The word, queer, has a complicated history within the LGBTQIA+ community. The word started off as a slur aimed at those who identify as LGBTQIA+; over time, the word was reclaimed during the sexual and gender minorities civil rights movement. For the older LGBTQIA+ generation, they may choose not to use the word, queer, given how it was used against them. The younger LGBTQIA+ generation may use it more casually to describe their own gender/sexual identity.

Sexual and gender identity is a unique journey for everybody. It is not linear. It is a spectrum and can be fluid. It is so much more complex than people originally thought. Many still think of sexuality and gender in categories or binaries. Even within sexuality itself, how/who you are romantically attracted to may be different from who you are sexually attracted to. For example, you may feel romantically attracted to female-identified folks and feel a lack of sexual attraction regardless of gender. Others are more romantically and sexually attracted to a certain gender. This is not the case for everybody. A slightly different case is you may be more physically and romantically attracted to particular traits of a person like intelligence.

The “Q” in LGBTQIA+ stands for questioning. You can take your time in discovering your identities. It is not an easy process, but it can be very rewarding, especially when you are authentically living as who you truly are. Some know their sexual orientation and/or gender identity early in life while others discover theirs later in life. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. It may be due to various different reasons people discover their sexual and/or gender identity at a certain time, including physical/emotional safety within their environment.

Being Asian/Asian American and Queer

Often, Asian/Asian American families struggle to accept their family member, who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This may be due to engrained cultural values, such as their vision of safety and family. Conforming is valued for safety reasons, and having a family the “traditional” way can be seen as "successful" in carrying on the family name. These things may help ensure stability and security, which being part of the queer community may not. Unfortunately, family members may not always know or understand why they are acting out against you when you identify as queer even if they are initially concerned for your safety.

Additionally, you may experience homophobia from your family and people of your similar cultural background, if they value their “old” ways and are not open to understanding values different from theirs. Given how engrained values can be, if one of your values is family, the very real fear of rejection from them may keep you from embracing your true self. Internalized homophobia is also a concern since you may feel there is something wrong with you. At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with you, in living your life as your authentic self. Part of this process can be how you integrate/choose to incorporate your family into your life as your current self.

Tips to begin or continue to explore your gender and/or sexual identities:

  • Consider these questions for yourself:

    • When looking at yourself, how do you feel about your past and current gender identity?

    • Do you feel like everything matches up inside and outside? Do you feel like yourself in your current body?

    • Regardless of gender, who did you crush on or like in the past and present? Or did you not crush on anyone?

      • Is there a pattern or theme?

    • Do you feel emotionally drawn to some people?

    • Do you feel sexually attracted to certain types of people?

Again, take your time to reflect on who you are and what you want to be in the world. There is nothing inherently wrong with who you are. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember that when we get the opposite message from the world and/or society.

If you are interested in working with our affirming psychologists, feel free to contact us here for our mental health services.

Stay tuned. The next topic is "Do You Have Emotionally Immature Parents?"

Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.

Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.



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