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Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, the Asian & LGBTQ+ intersection, and our favorite queer Asian films

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

This month was chosen to commemorate the contributions of Asian Americans, and the date coincides with the first Japanese immigrants arriving to the US in May. There are a lot of amazing contributions made by Asian Americans, and it’s been an ongoing journey of finding our voice. The Asian American experience is extremely diverse, but I wanted to share some resources for the specific intersection of the AAPI and LGBT experience- a double minority group. In honor of this month, I wanted to organize and share vetted, helpful material made for/by LGBTQ+ Asians to help celebrate queer identity and to share acceptance among a complex cultural understanding.

1. Resources for coming out and family issues

Resources for API Families (PFLAG)

Multilingual Leaflets and Fact Sheet (NQAPIA)

Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (HRC / NQAPIA)

Family Coming Out Process (Asian Pride Project)

API Parents, Relatives, and Caregivers Raising Gender Diverse Children and Teens (Gender Spectrum and API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC)


Non-Asian Languages:

Spanish Language Parent Support Group (Gender Spectrum)


Thank you to Ran, Deanne, and T for helping compile this list with me.



2. Asian-American LGBTQ+ representation in media (TV & film)

This is not a comprehensive list, just a small handful of films you can check out. Asian-American films/shows that are LGBTQ+:

- "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" (2018-2020), an animated show featuring a queer and Asian coded character. They are from another planet so they're not exactly Asian, but drawn to look as such. Fun, adventure show and great for teens and a reboot of the 1980s series where a magic sword transforms an orphan girl into warrior She-Ra.

- "The Half of It" (2020), coming-of-age film featuring an Asian teen growing up in the midwest who happens to be queer

- "The Legend of Korra" (2012-2014), animated show follow-up to "Avatar: The Last Airbender" with a queer storyline

- “Geography Club” (2013), LGBT teen movie with a bisexual Chinese-American character

- "No Look Pass" (2011), documentary of a queer basketball player

- “Shortbus” (2006, NSFW) with an Asian-American woman main character who is exploring her sexuality

- "Red Doors" (2005) has a small storyline with queer Asian representation

- "Saving Face" (2004), probably the most iconic lesbian Asian-American film

- "The Wedding Banquet" (1993), probably the most iconic gay Asian-American film


Asian films that are LGBTQ+:

- "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga" (2019), Bollywood Hindi-language coming-of-age romantic comedy-drama

- "Dear Ex" (2018), Taiwanese film, romantic comedy-drama, touching

- "The Handmaiden" (2016), Korean film, dramatic / scary, psychological thriller

- “Yes or No” (2010), Thai film with a lesbian couple, romantic comedy-drama, cute and light-hearted. There's also sequels "Yes or No 2" (2012) and "Yes or No 2.5" (2015), though I'll have to say I preferred the original the most.

- "Spider Lilies" (2007), Taiwanese lesbian film about a webcam girl and a tattoo artist


Non-Asian but beloved LGBTQ+ films:

- "The Old Guard" (2020), superhero film on Netflix about immortal mercenaries

- "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" (2019), French historical drama about a painter and her subject

- "Carol" (2015), romantic drama set in the 1950's that stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson... need we say more?!

- "Imagine Me & You" (2005), a romantic comedy-drama set in the UK starring Piper Perabo and Lena Headey

- "But I'm a Cheerleader" (1999), a satirical romantic comedy film and one of the early pioneering films with a lesbian protagonist

- "Desert Hearts" (1985), lesbian romance/drama about a divorcee who falls in love



3. Social resources for LGBTQ+ Asians

I serve LGBTQ and Asian clients in my coaching, consulting, and speaking services but here are places for folks to find peer-to-peer online community.


- Nice Queer Pals - Bay Area: a grassroots LGBTQ+ women / trans nonprofit that has a strong AAPI presence. I actually volunteer here! We have an associated Discord group as well and twice monthly virtual socials. - Nice Queer Pals - Southern California: similar to above except targeted for folks in the greater Los Angeles area

- Online Facebook communities, e.g., SQuAT (Subtle Queer Asian Traits) or QuAInt (Queer Asian Intersections)

- Local resources, e.g., San Francisco LGBT Center has a strong AAPI presence as well.


If you have any questions or want me to put additional links, email me irene@baywellnesscoaching.com!