Medha Asthana

July 9, 2018

Image description: APIENC volunteer Medha smiles at camera while sitting outdoors on a curb, head slightly tilted, with elbow on knee.

MEDHA is a volunteer and Core member of APIENC! Medha Asthana identifies as a queer Indian American, born in India and raised in the Midwest and the SF Bay Area.

Outside of APIENC, Medha is an Organizer at Californians for Justice. They work with high school students in East San Jose, empowering student as leaders of educational and racial justice in schools. This includes leadership development, base building, and political education. Medha really enjoys getting to facilitate and write curriculum, especially about QTPOC resilience, in which they get to center and ground students in their own personal story. It has been exciting and fulfilling for them to bring along students who have never been exposed to queer and trans livelihoods.

During Medha’s junior year of college, they studied abroad in Santiago, Chile and saw police repression and radical leftist student organizing for the first time. After coming back and graduating, they started community organizing with other POC. Upon return to the Bay Area, Medha started looking for a political home and found APIENC through a Direct Action Training. They first volunteered with last summer’s Leadership Exchange (LEX). Since then, Medha describes APIENC as a place of great growth where they feel really held and welcome. They now make the trip up to San Francisco from San Jose almost every other weekend. Medha has also worked with the Korean Resource Center and attended Bay Area Solidarity Summer, a South Asian political action camp. They have also done grassroots organizing in their hometown of Cupertino, pushing the community and the school board to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive and comprehensive sex ed curriculum.

Medha hopes that the LGBTQ API community can bring our full selves to the forefront of our lives and assert ourselves unapologetically and compassionately. In the API community, family is so important — whether given or chosen. Since so many of us struggle with existing in the in-between spaces and finding our places (both in and outside the movement), their greatest hope is for everyone to find and create and develop a family that sees us for who we are and welcomes all.

Medha’s favorite APIENC memory was the last Core Meeting that they facilitated with Ralph. They appreciated how everything worked out with so many folks pitching in, and felt honored and blessed to be part of a team that is taking on challenges with full-hearted care and investment for the work and each other. APIENC is a place where Medha feels grounded in value-based, intersectional, and close-knit community organizing that keeps them feeling okay in the rest of the world. For them, it’s a space where no one is being questioned, interrogated, or misunderstood.

Fun Fact: Medha can lift their right toe at a 90 degree angle! Ask them to show you next time you see them!