Alison Lin

September 14, 2016
Image Description: Three queer people stand smiling towards the camera at the 2016 Trans March.

Image Description: Three queer people stand smiling towards the camera at the 2016 Trans March, Alison is in the center.

ALISON LIN, a queer, mixed-race (Chinese-American and white) woman, has been an active volunteer with APIENC since she moved to the Bay Area three years ago. Alison currently works with social justice nonprofits, where she  focuses on collaboration, embodied leadership, and learning through experimentation. 

Alison has been involved in queer Asian & Pacific Islander communities since 2004, when she joined QWAVE in New York City. She had been looking for both queer community and API community at the time, and found the intersection of both in QWAVE. Since then, Alison has been interested in belonging to and building queer API communities.

Alison deepened her commitment to LGBTQ API communities when she first attended the NQAPIA conference in Seattle in 2010. She recalls particularly enjoying the last day, when she ate lunch outside with the other attendees as they played music and sang together. Alison describes this as feeling like a warm “summer camp community.” She had never heard of NQAPIA before deciding to attend the conference, but it made an instant impact on her life. Many of the people she met in 2010 are still important to her life today, though they live across the country. Alison notes that she came out of the NQAPIA conference “dedicated to creating space for others to come together and take political action.” After returning from the conference to her then-home city of Philadelphia, Alison was inspired both by NQAPIA and by her experiences with QWAVE to co-found hotpot!, a local group for queer and trans API women. Around the same time, she joined the national board of NQAPIA.

By the time Alison moved to the Bay Area, queer and trans API communities had been a central part of her life for almost a decade. Through her involvement with NQAPIA, Alison was already familiar with APIENC’s work at the time of her move. She notes that she valued, when she moved to a new area, the opportunity to contribute locally — she feels that “it’s the local work that keeps the national work grounded.” For Alison, it’s important to “make change in the communities you call home.”

Alison began her involvement with APIENC by volunteering at Dragon Fruit Project events, where she had the opportunity to interview community leader Crystal Jang about her experiences as a parent. Not long after, she was asked to join the fundraising committee. She had prior experience with fundraising, and also holds a strong belief in the worth of grassroots fundraising. “I really do believe in the value of abundance,” Alison says. “We have to be the ones funding our work.” Alison also hopes to engage APIENC’s wide range of allies in fundraising. In 2016, she has been focusing on individual donations, which is a major source of the funding that allows APIENC’s programs to grow and continue.

One of Alison’s favorite APIENC memories occurred this summer, when she and Mandy Hu led a phonebanking workshop for this year’s interns and volunteers. She found it inspiring, because although many of them had never phonebanked before, they were all willing to try, and all eventually succeeded. For Alison, this exemplified one of her favorite things about the APIENC community — their willingness to push themselves if given support. “APIENC prepares people to do what we ask them to do,” she says. Alison characterizes APIENC as a community that balances “risk with support, so that people can grow individually while serving our communities.”

Looking to the future, Alison hopes that the LGBTQ API community “can continue to build our collective voices and power while recognizing within our communities the different needs and desires that people have;” that we can “build in a way that we’re strengthening not only our communities, but all communities that are oppressed and marginalized.”

Fun Fact: Alison loves dancing. This year, she danced in SF Pride with Rhythm and Motion, and she recently took a queer Texas Two Step and country line dancing class.