I am sharing this news of launching Queer Asian Pride Ireland (QAPI) with pride and honour.

QAPI will be a dedicated support group for LGBTQ+ people of Asian heritage living in Ireland and their allies with a primary goal to create an empowering and non-judgmental platform for them. I am collaborating with Tess (she/her), who has over three years of experience organising in education, community empowerment and reform circles. She is a social justice activist with South Asian roots based in the rebel county of Cork.

I have been thinking of forming this group for over four years. During the lockdown last year, I participated in the ProudAF campaign created by Gay Project Ireland. Before that, in April 2020, I began writing an interview series for GCN about Queer Asian immigrants’ lives in Ireland. With both of these initiatives, I got the opportunity to connect with many first and second-generation LGBTQ+ people of Asian backgrounds living in Ireland. We met online, chatted and shared the pain of isolation, lack of positive representation and marginalisation we face within the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland.

The pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society – racism, gender inequality, mental healthcare crises, access to sexual health services, poverty, housing crises, and immigration uncertainties. I witnessed how these inequalities affect LGBTQ+ immigrants’ intersection. Many Asian LGBTQ+ community members are developing mental and sexual health issues which are affecting their daily livelihood – but no awareness and no dedicated resources are available for this intersection. Since then, it has become my main priority to form a dedicated support group to bridge this gap.

Economic migrants coming from Asian countries to Ireland have constantly risen in recent years. LGBTQ+ Asians have a significant share in these numbers. They come to Ireland for many reasons, but recently, one can see them mainly as postgraduate students at universities and the critical skill workforce in the Irish job market. You can also see them growing up as a second generation of migrant parents living in Ireland.

Asian society is a demographically immensely diverse mixed bag of race, gender, religion, class, caste, language, physical appearances, sexual orientation and other identities. In many Asian countries and cultures, being LGBTQ+ is still a crime. Sexual and gender expression often get stigmatised, and people are forced to live a closeted life. The culture, heritage, and traditions housed within Asia make the experiences of LGBTQ+ folks that much more complex.

Some choose to migrate abroad to western countries to live a life of freedom and self-expression. They expect the outwardly progressive western society and evolved LGBTQ+ activism to offer them physical and emotional safety. Unfortunately, in reality, they face racism, xenophobia, cultural stereotypes, fetishism, colourism and isolation. Since the marriage referendum, Ireland has developed an image of a safe space for LGBTQ+ migrants, but the on-the-ground reality can be quite different. Queer Asian Pride Ireland aspires to create the opportunity for cultural belonging and social integration.

Queer Asian Pride Ireland is an open group intended to help people proudly affirm both their Asian identity as well as their sexual orientation. We will actively work against all forms of oppression in society. Through publications, conferences, cultural events, film festivals, Pride celebrations, networking opportunities and collaborative programming, QAPI will work to empower the LGBTQ+ Asian community in Ireland and their allies across the globe.

We are currently creating an online shareable resource document with nationwide information about mentalhealth help, sexual well-being resources, local LGBTQ+ help groups, social groups (running, hiking, yoga and gaming), local queer book clubs, university outreach resources and immigration system FAQs. This resource will help the LGBTQ+ Asian Aimmigrant community to feel connected. Facilitating monthly online and offline meet-ups is also our priority.

We are open to new members and welcome creative collaborations to develop community engagement programs. QAPI is also looking forward to collaborating with other nationwide LGBTQ+ groups to create an inclusive and safe place for Queer Asian immigrants living in Ireland. Soon we will have our first open community meet-up, followed by nationwide survey projects like Queer Immigrant’s Pride at Work and Queer Immigrant’s Pride at University. Trikone and Club Kali are the inspirations behind QAPI.

We don’t want our peers to feel alone and helpless. So please join us, spread the word and keep an eye on our Instagram @Queerasianpride.ie for more announcements.