API Project: Helping Asian Families Stay Close to LGBT Loved Ones

Clara Yoon: "Everyone needs understanding and love from parents." — 부모님의 이해와 사랑이 필요합니다.Clara Yoon: "Everyone needs understanding and love from parents." — 부모님의 이해와 사랑이 필요합니다.

The API Project is a new initiative of PFLAG NYC to help families and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals of Asian & Pacific Islander (API) background. Clara Yoon, the founder and leader of the API Project, shares the background and goals for the group:

When my child came out as transgender a few years ago, I remember spending countless hours on the internet researching and learning about transgender issues. I also joined PFLAG NYC’s TransParents Project, a wonderful group of parents, and received much needed support and resources as I struggled through each milestone for my son’s transitioning.

Looking back, I know how fortunate I was to have these resources and support. Equipped with knowledge, better understanding and support from other parents, I was able to overcome my fear, anxiety and misconception to navigate through steps necessary to support my child in his journey. I cannot imagine how lost I would have been if I was living in some place with no supportive community and resources that I could rely on.

As a Korean-American who immigrated to the United States in my early teenage years, I know there is general lack of visibility and thus wide misunderstanding within Asian-American communities about LGBTQ individuals. That is the reason why I started the API Project, a support group for Asian-Pacific Islanders (API) within PFLAG NYC to create a safe space for API gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals as well as their parents, families and friends to gather, share and hear each other’s experiences that are unique to their cultural background and upbringing. As the API Project gets started, we offer bi-monthly support group meetings to the API LGBTQ community and their parents and families. Meetings take place in midtown Manhattan alongside one of PFLAG NYC’s other support group meetings. We also provide direct assistance to individuals or families in between meetings – all it takes is reaching out to us by email or phone.

It is my hope that the API Project can provide the assurance and bilingual support that the parents and families need to keep their family together with acceptance and love for each other. Within our API community, there is much diversity. We are striving to help individuals and families find comfort in meeting others like themselves who are going through similar struggles. In addition, the API Project is partnering with other API PFLAG groups around the U.S. and with local and national API LGBTQ organizations to help build multilingual resources and organize events and workshops in NYC.

As we start the year of snake and celebrate the Lunar New Year in February, it hurts me to think of the LGBT individuals who are dreading going to family gatherings because their families do not accept their LGBT identity. They feel lonely and isolated. I hope every family can open their hearts to love and accept their LGBT children and have a wonderful new year’s celebration as a whole family who support each and every loved one, no matter what.

Lunar New Year for All 2013

Clara Yoon is the very proud Korean mother of a 17-year-old transgender, bisexual son, living in New York City. She is the founder of API Project to provide support for LGBTQ individuals and families of Asian heritage, foster inter-generational dialogue and address culture-specific needs of the API community. She also serves on the board of PFLAG NYC. She and her husband support and advocate for the rights of LGBTQ community.

Get more information on the API Project and find out how to contact us here.