Bringing it Home: Reflections on NQAPIA’s Regional Summit

by Lina Khoeur | September 11, 2017
Picture Description: Lina speaks into megaphone with her left hand up while Sasha W holds megaphone.

Photo Description: On the left, Lina speaks into megaphone with her left hand up while Sasha W, NQAPIA organizer on the right, holds a megaphone.

For me, going home usually means anxiety. I’m not talking about general nervousness and a jittery stomach – when I go home, I usually have to spend the next day in bed, physically ill. Fresno, the city I grew up in, has historically been a place of pollution, suburbia, and conservative values that vehemently reject so many parts of who I am. And yet, home has always been a place of longing; I have seen the love and support this community can have, if only for a select few. I’ve always wanted to feel like I could drop by, sit a spell, and rest in all the ways I need.

This summer, I came back home again, but under slightly different circumstances. NQAPIA’s (the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s) regional summit was held in Fresno, and for the first time in my life, I saw hordes of people who were API, and queer… in Fresno. For the first time in my life, I met API parents of queer kids, who shared their stories of love and acceptance, and who continue to show up in all the ways they can. We built skills around creating better systems of care, identifying leadership types, and organizing direct actions. Then, we took them to the streets, marching in Clovis and demanding that Senator Devin Nunes reject the RAISE Act, which would extensively reduce the number of legal immigration to the US. Although Nunes himself didn’t show up, the community did – many people honked their support as they drove past, and took flyers when we hailed them down.

Technically, marching in the streets, doing interviews, and organizing mass actions are not new to me; I’ve organized in the Bay for my entire college career. However, this action hit close to home, literally. I saw support from a city I never thought I could come out to. It wasn’t all rosy; we saw Trump signs on the way here, and more than a few disdainful looks from people nearby, but I expected that. I never expected to see so many of my queer Asian American family members causing a ruckus full of love, song, pain, and joy. I never expected to see so many people from my hometown in full support of it. With the support of my APIENC crew, and the new family I found at NQAPIA, I was able to reclaim and rebuild my relationship with the physical space that I called home.

NQAPIA changed my entire perspective on what is possible, and where it is possible. I know how deeply this work impacted me, and because of that, I ask you to consider: what is the work that you want to do, and where does it most need to happen? Organizing in the Bay Area is critical for maintaining and growing spaces of freedom and joy, AND it is just as critical to consider those who are in less welcoming places, those who live their truths through more covert means. When you are able, show up for them too. When I go home, I still get anxiety, and I still get sick – there’s uneasiness in my stomach, but now, there’s a small pang of hope, too.