6 Asian LGBTQ+ Pioneers Who Shattered the ‘Lavender Ceiling’ for Pride Month

Pride Month

Pride Month is an annual celebration for the LGBTQ community, with many prominent Asian and Asian Americans who have fought and used their platform to demand rights and equality around the world.

Bisexual New York activist Brenda Howard organized the first Pride parade to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, reported CNN. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Pride traditions.

This month has already come with important changes for the nation and the community that resides in it, including a landmark case by the Supreme Court who voted 6-3 in support of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, providing protection for a person’s sexual orientation and transgender status. This is on top of protections that prevent discrimination of a person in the workforce based on sex.

Read on to find out why these Asian and Asian Americans in the LGBTQ+ community are *chef’s kiss.*

Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy — Indian Public Interest Litigators

 
These two public interest litigators fought hard and won a landmark 2019 case that struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which made all “untraditional” or “natural” sexual activities punishable by law, the legacy of British colonization, Time reported. It was a unanimous vote.

“How do you police love?… I think people need to ask that question, why are we being policed?” one of the litigators said. The pair had been part of the case when it was first presented to the court but lost in 2013.

“They need to respect values constitutional values of equality and nondiscrimination,” Guruswamy emphasized.

Helen Zia — Chinese American Journalist and Activist

 

The award-winning Chinese American journalist and activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights was also heavily involved in the Vincent Chin civil rights case. Zia and her wife were the first same-sex couple to get married in California upon recognition by the state in 2008, according to HuffPost.

Zia has lent her writing and her voice to the community, speaking to Amherst students in 2018 about how the time was, and still is, a moment to speak up.

“This is really not a time for people like me … as an Asian American and the daughter of immigrants and a queer person of color, or really any of us … to run and hide,” she said, according to The Amherst Student.

Kris Hayashi — Japanese American Executive Director at the Transgender Law Center

 

Hayashi has been at the forefront of justice and rights for the community for over 20 years, according to his biography. He was also part of the Audre Lorde Project, a New York-based organization for LGBTQ people of color.

Hayashi spoke with NPR about the recent Supreme Court ruling, saying there is much more to be done.

“We need to continue to fight for our communities because we know that black trans people – that trans people of color are most impacted by violence, discrimination and harassment,” he told NPR. “So there is so much more to do, in particular in supporting the leadership of black trans women and trans people of color all across the country.”

Giti Thadani — Indian Writer

 

Thadani has been combatting Indian homophobia, starting in 1991 with the creation of the first lesbian organization called Sakhi. It provided a way for queer Indian women to communicate and network through letters.

Chi Chia-Wei — Taiwanese Activist

 

Chia-Wei is a well-known gay rights and AIDS activist in Taiwan and was the first person to come out as gay in his community. He fought for marriage equality in the country, starting almost 40 years ago.

He petitioned for marriage equality in 2000, which failed until he tried again and succeeded in 2013. In 2017, in the Civil Code restrictions were considered unconstitutional.

“When people see that their neighbors are LGBTQ families, they will realize that their lives are not particularly affected by marriage equality,” he told Focus Taiwan.

Don’t forget to celebrate our list last year which includes Margaret Cho, George Takei, Hayley Kiyoko and others.

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