QAPA is committed to providing a supportive social, political, and educational environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and questioning people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in the Boston and New England area.
On one summer day back in 1979, something extraordinary happened at Glad Day Bookshop, on Boylston Street near Copley Square. Siong-Huat Chua, a native of Malacca, Malaysia, met with two lesbians and another gay man to found the Boston Asian Gay Men and Lesbians (BAGMAL), the first co-gender lesbian and gay Asian group in history. In 1988, in response to the growing popularity of the organization, BAGMAL was renamed the Alliance of Massachusetts Asian Lesbians and Gay Men (AMALGM).
As the editor of BAGMAL and AMALGM newsletters, Chua always encouraged frank discussions of Asian sexuality, seeking to empower Asians as subjects rather than as mere sex objects. To do so, “we hear their opinions, the expressions of their needs and feelings — we see the world through their eyes.” Chua also worked to eradicate racism within the LGBT community, insisting that the gay movement “acknowledge and include the participation of people of color.” His organization had paved the way for similar groups to appear in major cities across the continent, providing safe places where queer Asians could be both queer and Asian at the same time.
In 1994, Chua passed away after a long battle with AIDS at the young age of 39. It was around this time that some AMALGM members started an HIV project purely on a volunteer basis. The HIV project eventually spun off of AMALGM to become Massachusetts Asian & Pacific Islanders for Health (formerly known as the Massachusetts Asian AIDS Prevention Project), a non-profit organization that promotes health, HIV and sexuality awareness, and access to care in Massachusetts Asian Pacific Islander communities. Starting off with only one part-time employee, ten years later MAP for Health has a full-time staff of eight.
Today our organization is known as the Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA), reflecting our inclusion of bisexual, trans, and questioning individuals, as well as Pacific-Islanders. We are still committed to providing a supportive social, political, and educational environment for all queer individuals of Asian and Pacific-Islander heritage in the Boston and New England area. Founded in 1979, QAPA, is the oldest Asian queer organization in the United States.
We currently have over 300 members in the New England area, plus many more ex-members spread around the world.
- There will be no formal membership requirements for participation in QAPA – subscription to QAPA’s mailing list will be equivalent to membership.
- All people will be invited and encouraged to participate in QAPA regardless of ethnic background and sexual orientation, although emphasis will be placed on the queer API community. Certain events, however, may be designated by the QAPA Steering Committee as open only to those who identify as Asian and Pacific Islander (inclusive of APIs, API Americans and those who are of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic API heritage). In such cases, the event shall be clearly designated.
- Any behavior inconsistent with the supportive environment in QAPA for queer APIs will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the QAPA Steering Committee.
B. Steering Committee
- The QAPA Steering Committee will be responsible for all programming and decision-making for QAPA.
- All decision-making will be done by consensus whenever possible. If a consensus cannot be reached, then a simple majority vote of those present will be taken. The quorum required for any voting will be 4 Steering Committee members.
- To become a member of the Steering Committee, the ideal candidate should (a) be a QAPA member for at least six months; (b) attend QAPA events regularly and/or be actively involved in the queer API community; (c) make a commitment to serve for a minimum term one year; and (d) identify with the queer API community. A candidate shall be accepted as a member of the Steering Committee by a simple majority vote by the current Steering Committee based on the above criteria.
- It is recommended that at any give time the Steering Committee should have at least 6 members.
- Within the Steering Committee, there will be two co-chairs to act as “task-masters,” one male-identified and one female-identified. The two co-chairs will decide how to divide up their work.
- Committee meetings will occur 6 times a year, on the 2nd Sunday of every even month.
- Steering Committee members will be required to attend all Steering Committee meetings. If a Steering Committee member cannot attend a meeting, s/he must give one of the co-chairs advance notice.
- When a Steering Committee member leaves, s/he is required to give at least one month’s notice to allow enough time for the Steering Committee to find a suitable replacement.
- Other members of QAPA will be able to attend Steering Committee meetings, but they will not have voting power unless they become a Steering Committee member. (Note that since decisions will be made by consensus whenever possible, members attending committee meetings will be able to influence the decisions made by being active in discussions.)
- Minutes of Steering Committee meetings will be available to QAPA members upon request.
- Amendments to the QAPA Constitution will be presented by any QAPA member to the Steering Committee. Amendments will be passed by a consensus of the Steering Committee members.