Although I haven’t spent much time away from the Registration/Info table, I have heard the murmur of the crowd hold confidence and comfort after what we heard on Friday night. At the Community Catalyst Awards Banquet Dinner Dance in Chinatown, we shed tears after hearing stories honoring Freedom Inc, Liz Thomson, I Li Hsiao, and Marsha and Tad Aizumi.
The tantalizing Kit Yan noticed how Freedom Inc organized while receiving an award for organizing. People shared kindness in their hearts, welcoming and respecting each other like I Li and Liz have treated those within their growing Chicagoland community. Allies aspired to validate identities, realizing the support they provide fuels a better future, like the actions of Marsha and Tad Aizumi.
I want to give a shout out to the parents: Marsha Aizumi of PFLAG and Clara Yoon of API PFLAG have coordinated endless activities for parents of LGBTQ children. They had a special pre-conference convening on Thursday, and they have hosted sessions and activities every day. Their kindness has been everywhere, and I’m sharing this because my mom was at the conference on Saturday.
I always grew up with my mom sharing the concept of being open-minded and accepting of everyone, but my mom and I strive to make inclusive environments in different ways. My mom loves to talk, but in this space, she needed to listen and learn about the LGBTQ community. My mom attended the workshop South Asian Mental Health and Activism: Decolonizing and Reclaiming South Asian Healing Methods. Although my family is not South Asian, there are applicable tips for all communities. Here are some of the tips she shared:
- It is healing to speak with others (therapists or not) who look like us
- Create a phone tree for those who cannot leave home to go to a therapist or to go to LGBTQ social events
- Familiar sensory environments help create safe spaces (e.g. the taste of food, the smell of incense)
- Heal by doing familiar cultural things (connect yourself, don’t feel disconnected)
- BUT make things not mutually exclusive (don’t limit yourself to cultural conformity)
- At the same time, it’s difficult when therapists don’t understand those cultural concepts
For me, it was healing to see her choose that session. It was healing to ask her to take notes for me. It was healing to receive the notes, knowing that she listened to what was said. Although we haven’t had the time (and may not make the time) to talk about the workshop, it was healing to have her there. Mental health is important in a community where, too often, we disregard that it even exists.
For me, it was healing to see her support a workshop that affects mental health, that affects us. For others, I want to highlight NQAPIA’s Parents who Love their LGBT Kids campaign. We have nine videos of Asian parents speaking in-language about supporting their LGBT kids. The message is that family is still family and love is still love. And, I love seeing the support of allies who know they still have room to grow.