Pride ASIA 2012The spirit of the first annual Pride ASIA remained high throughout last Saturday afternoon at Hing Hay Park in the Chinatown/International District, despite of the shifty weather. Featuring five hours of non-stop cultural performances and speeches from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) within the Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities, Pride ASIA celebrated the multicultural diversity through the API lens.

Pride ASIA 2012
Pride ASIA 2012 Pride ASIA 2012
Pride ASIA 2012

The spirit of the first annual Pride ASIA remained high throughout last Saturday afternoon at Hing Hay Park in the Chinatown/International District, despite of the shifty weather. Featuring five hours of non-stop cultural performances and speeches from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) within the Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities, Pride ASIA celebrated the multicultural diversity through the API lens.

One of the goals of Pride ASIA was to “raise awareness and educate” the community about the struggles that API and LGBTQ communities have in Seattle.

“We are here to celebrate the intersection of how the LGBTQ communities intersect with the API culture, as a way to build self-esteem and empower the community,” said Aleksa Manila, host and one of the organizers of Pride ASIA.

He admitted that the rich history of LGBTQ within the API community in Seattle has prompted the city to hold such event long before and was glad to finally have the chance and support to unveil the celebration to a broader range of audience.

“Regardless of gender orientation and sexual expression, it’s really about equal access for everyone,” he said.

When it came to the sensitive topics such as gender identities and sexual orientation, Manila admitted that there are still discrimination and judgment going on regarding on same sex relationships.

“Nobody wants to be hurt and be judged from the beginning, in my opinion, sexual orientation is something that we are born with,” he said while pointing to his fancy updo and pretty dress. “We have the right to choose how to dress ourselves and who we want to be with.”

The event was illuminated with unique performances, including several ethnic dance numbers by UTOPIA and an innovative singing act by Yee-Shin Huang & Co.

Yee-Shin Huang performed two heartfelt songs about two gay highschoolers’ intricate life at a private catholic school in Bare: A Pop Opera, a stage production that he directs, earning much applauds.

In addition to celebrating its diverse culture, Pride ASIA also attempted to gain voters’ support for the approval of Referendum 74, a bill to be appeared on the ballot in the General Election on Nov. 6 that allows same-sex couples to marry.

Over the years, Senator Ed Murray and his partner Michael Shiosaki have been urging for marriage equality in the state of Washington.

“So that people can get married; all families can be recognized,” said Murray.

Shiosaki, keynote speaker of Pride ASIA, has consistently believed that there is a need for Asian to participate and volunteer in local organizations, as a way to break through the Asian stereotypes and to bridge the gaps between the mainstream and the LGBTQ communities.

His participation in the society gives him a chance to prove his individuality, altering the labels that people often hold towards Asian: passive, conventional, geeky and the like.

“I surely know what it means to be a minority, but being that minority really gives me an opportunity to prove to others and, to prove to myself that I wasn’t necessarily the stereotype that everyone tried to make me believe,” he said.

Among the audience stood Greece Lee, joining her friends to acknowledge the rights of the LGBTQ community. The Hawaii native is open-minded yet curious.

“The world is changing so fast that people’s thinking are much different now than twenty years ago,” she said skeptically. “I don’t know what the future will bring to the queer community.”

Nonetheless, such uncertainty appeared to be taken over by much passion and assertion from members of the LGBTQ community.

“It’s not about gay,” said Victor Loo (alias Victoria Victor), director of Recovery Services of Asian Counseling and Referral Service. “It’s about love and the freedom to be equaled.”

The event ended with much applauds from the audience and supporters. It also provided a stage for the LGBTQ within the API communities to share insights about human rights and equality.




Photo and video: Lillian Young

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