May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander history, culture, and traditions. This month should always be a cause for jubilation and pride, but we’d be remiss not to acknowledge recent acts of anti-Asian violence and harassment, which have left many Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth feeling scared and rejected.
This is incredibly troubling, as our research has found that Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth were approximately 40% more likely than white LGBTQ youth to have unmet mental health care needs — with many mentioning both cultural stigma and racism as reasons why they haven’t sought out care. We must all come together to #StopAsianHate and destigmatize mental health!
To celebrate this important month and to show our support for Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth, we asked several of our favorite Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ celebrity and influencer supporters to share what this month means to them and to offer advice on navigating the intersections of their identities.
I hope LGBTQ youths that are navigating the intersections of their own identities realize that your personal experiences may be what makes you “different,” but it’s also what makes you uniquely and authentically you. Be proud of that and stand tall! I know within Asian culture, we can easily convince ourselves to put up a barrier, and silence and ignore our pain. But I encourage us all to open our minds and hearts to one another. Look out for each other by exercising compassion for those that might have mental illness. Reach out and make conversation with a friend that might be struggling. And if you are struggling through this time, be open to seeking help. There are a number of mental health resources specifically for our community such as The Asian Mental Health Collective, The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.
What I would say to LGBTQ youth is that you should never have to compartmentalize yourself to make other people more comfortable: every part of you is essential. To my beloved community: taking care of yourself — maintaining boundaries, practicing self-compassion, treating yourself with kindness — is more important than ever during these turbulent times. We need everyone — regardless of their identity — to condemn and resist this ongoing anti-Asian racism and homophobia and transphobia, and create a world where all are welcome.