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

Updated: Aug 22

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 - "Pretty Little Liars" (2010-2017), a television show about the teenage girls featuring a lesbian relationship

- "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!