TO BE SEEN IS TO BE KNOWN
The Queer Asian community exists but is not visible. We are not visible in Western Media or many other ordinary spaces, and, in my experience as a Queer Indian woman, it has made it difficult to find a sense of belonging or community. When we are not seen, we are not known. That sense of loneliness is overpowering. Rarely are all Asian ethnicities recognized. And just as rarely are all identities of queerness celebrated, especially within Asian representation. This project was born out of a somewhat selfish desire to find a community and place of belonging as a Queer Asian.
This past year I developed a panel for ClexaCon 2018 (the convention for queer female/femme-identifying representation in the media) to explore Queer Asian Representation in the Media—I wanted to create a space where Asians and Queer Asians talk critically about the lack of meaningful representation in Western Media, and, most importantly, where Queer Asians were visible. We presented the panel at the convention in Las Vegas to a standing-room-only audience, which was incredible. I am still reeling from how powerful it was to feel seen as Queer and Asian, and to find a sense of community with other Queer Asians and allies. To go from not seeing myself in the media and feeling as if my identifies were only meaningful as tokens to feeling seen and known? I still don't have the words to describe the power and effect this experience created. Throughout the weekend people at the convention came up to my fellow panelists and me to share their experiences as Asians and Queer Asians, and it drove home the point that we need to be more visible to foster a greater sense of validation and community.
Since the convention I have been working on ways that we can do that: take our "Gaysian" panel and turn it into something that lives beyond the walls of convention to connect Gaysians throughout the country and allow us to find our community, allow us to be seen. While the Project is not partnered or affiliated with ClexaCon, it was inspired by our experiences at the convention. The Gaysian Project’s home website will serve as a hub for resources for the Queer and Asian communities. There, individuals can find links to inclusive gyms, mental health resources, Facebook groups, events, and other spaces or resources focused on our communities. We are also launching a podcast that will be a direct extension of our panel. This podcast, and project as a whole, will serve as a space where we can continue having conversations about Queer and Asian issues that extend beyond just representation in the media.
While The Gaysian Project is an apparel brand and collective. Where our t-shirts and other merchandise allow us to be visible in the most literal sense. We use the profits from our merchandise sales to maintain the project website, cover podcast production costs, and uplift charities and individuals within the community that we are working with.
We are looking to collaborate with artists, writers, academics—anyone with a voice and story to tell to aid us in breaking down stereotypes, and assumptions regarding queer Asians. You do not need to be Queer or Asian, or Queer and Asian! As much as this is a project celebrating Gaysians it is also a project that wants to connect our community to the larger queer community and society as a whole!
We are here to be seen and known.