Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ+ Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

Human Rights Campaign Foundation, October 2023 | 35 Minute Read.

No matter who we are or whom we love, we all deserve the right to live out our lives genuinely, completely and honestly.

Coming Out is a Personal Choice

Our race, ethnicity, language, religion, cultural dress, sexual orientation or gender identity should never be barriers to us living our full lives. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, coming out is often a significant part of reclaiming this right and living authentically.

Coming out is a personal choice, and the lifelong coming out experience is different for everybody. For those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ and as people of color, it can often feel like we are living at the cusp of an intersection that is challenging to manage. For many Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, coming out is a lifelong process that can require a different approach because of cultural norms or traditions that emphasize duty to family and community. This can make the coming out process more complex to navigate.

When embarking on your own coming out journey, it is important to create a safe space for yourself and to evaluate your own unique circumstances.

Look for supportive people to whom you can turn during times of need, especially if you might face disapproval or rejection from your family, friends or community. Depending on your individual situation, pick a place and time where you feel the most comfortable and safe to come out.

In too many places, LGBTQ+ people who live openly can face discrimination and even violence. If you fear this mistreatment, it is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with you.

The problem is not you.

The problem is the prejudice and discrimination that many of us learn from our society and our cultures.

Stay patient, persistent and positive, and remember to seek out resources and support from those who affirm your identity.

You are not alone: Know that there is a history of resilience in our community of LGBTQ+ AANHPIs , family members and allies who support and love you exactly as you are.

Coming Out for AANHPIs

Although AANHPIs come from various cultural backgrounds, those who come out as LGBTQ+ often share similar experiences and challenges.

Some who were raised in religious communities must reconcile themselves with traditions and teachings that may condemn or otherwise reject LGBTQ+ identities. Others, especially those who are immigrants or were raised in immigrant families, must grapple with multicultural identities and familial expectations. Language differences can make it difficult to find relevant or relatable resources and support, and a lack of LGBTQ+ AANHPI representation in media, entertainment and politics perpetuates invisibility.

Many LGBTQ+ people report that after coming out, they are able to communicate better with their family and friends.

While the LGBTQ+ AANHPI experience is as varied and diverse as the many cultures within our community, in the following sections we will discuss common issues during the coming out process.

Family Acceptance

Although coming out to family is difficult for many LGBTQ+ people, it can pose additional challenges for those who grow up in traditional AANHPI cultures that emphasize parental sacrifice and familial duty.

More than 6 in 10 AANHPIs in the United States are immigrants. Many AANHPI youth are raised by parents who left their home countries, family and friends in search of a better life. These parents work hard to ensure that their children have greater educational and occupational opportunities.

Growing up amid these significant sacrifices, AANHPI youth in the United States often feel indebted to their parents. They fear disappointing their parents, and will avoid doing anything that might humiliate them or bring shame upon the family among the wider community. Especially in cultures that stress familial duty or conformity, LGBTQ+ AANHPI youth can carry a weight of expectations rooted in traditions that define success through rigid gendered norms. This sense of duty may be passed along to future generations and be reinforced across communities.

Coming out is a deeply personal decision, but many LGBTQ+ AANHPIs must also contend with the impact this may have on others in their families and wider community, including:

Though LGBTQ+ acceptance has seen encouraging developments throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands, LGBTQ+ people still face stigma in many countries and cultures. Some people believe that being LGBTQ+ brings shame upon their family. It’s important to know that your LGBTQ+ identity should not be the cause of shame or pain. Pain comes from the prejudices around you, not from who you are or who you love.

As LGBTQ+ people, we strive to live our lives authentically, completely and honestly. We want our parents and other loved ones to share in our joys. To meet, accept and love our partners. To recognize us fully for our gender identities. To understand that our children are our parents’ grandchildren. We want their support and love.

Many LGBTQ+ AANHPIs are fearful that if they come out to their parents, they will be disowned, shunned or thrown out of the home. That their parents will no longer financially support them. While these are possibilities,

countless LGBTQ+ AANHPIs have come out to their parents and were not abandoned.

It is typical for an AANHPI parent to initially say, “I am not happy about it, but you are still my child.” At the same time, only you can determine when or how is the best time or way to come out to your parents. Only you can fully evaluate your own physical safety, emotional support system and financial circumstances. Although some LGBTQ+ AANHPIs are immediately accepted by their families, it is also not uncommon for coming out to family members — especially parents — to take several years. You may even need to come out multiple times.

I was terrified of coming out to my family. The potential for rejection or being thrown out of the house all seemed like very real possibilities. When I finally told my mom, she was silent for a few very awkward moments. But then she told me that although it would be difficult for her to handle and understand, she would support me, because, she said, ‘You’re my son, and I love you. Nothing can change that.

— Prateek Choudhary

Reactions Family Members May Have

The initial coming out announcement can be uncomfortable or scary for all parties involved.

It’s important to know that the reaction family members have at first may change over time.

Family members usually require time to work through the concerns and fears they have regarding the unfamiliar or unknown.

"When my son first came out to me, I retreated into shame, sadness and fear as a mother who failed in her most important responsibility. But I love my child and have never stopped loving him. And it is this love that has helped me process through my negative feelings to stand by Aiden and watch him successfully live his life as his true self. He makes me so proud." — Marsha Aizumi, Japanese-American mother

This process can be especially challenging for immigrant parents who were raised in places where information about LGBTQ identities was less widely available. It can be further exacerbated by language barriers that make it challenging to directly translate LGBTQ terminology and/or make it impossible to find equivalent words to describe LGBTQ identities and experiences.

Another common reaction that family members have is fear. They may be afraid that their child will suffer and be mistreated as a result of their LGBTQ+ identity.

It is important for families to know that supporting their child and providing a safe haven for them are the greatest gifts they can give to their child to build strength in the face of prejudices or challenges that their child may face in their lives.

Guilt and shame are common initial feelings among parents. Amid the confusion, and confronted with what they see as a new reality, some family members can erroneously believe that children are or “became” LGBTQ+ because they:

In the absence of comprehensive education and/or exposure to LGBTQ+ people, parents sometimes mistakenly think being LGBTQ+ is a choice, a preference or a phase.

When I came out, I was 21; my parents spent three months at first shocked, and then they joined PFLAG… They became so political, and they realized that being gay wasn’t a huge crisis that couldn’t be overcome. They needed to be educated, so they took steps to do that. It was nice to have that support.

Jenny Shimizu, Openly lesbian actor and model on her parents’ initial reactions and journey through acceptance

Supporting Family Members in their Process

There are several resources to educate parents and other family members about LGBTQ+ identities, including overcoming myths or misconceptions.

During this sensitive time, stay strong and acknowledge their feelings, but also remember to honor and assert your own feelings. Your parents may hope that one day you will change. Over time, it is quite common for parents to move from feelings of disappointment and shame, to simple tolerance, to understanding and finally acceptance and celebration.

Many parents move beyond acceptance to fully embracing and celebrating their LGBTQ+ children, both in public and private.

We are concerned about our family and the huge fear of rejection we may face. It’s true that many Asian parents tend to be very conservative and protective of their children. But once you can get them behind their kids, they will take on the world!

Trinity Ordona, Longtime activist for LGBTQ+ rights

Religion & Faith

Around the world, more and more faith traditions are now openly embracing LGBTQ+ people both in places of worship and in the larger community.

Many LGBTQ+ AANHPIs are raised in Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Islamic, Sikh or other faith traditions, each with varying levels of LGBTQ+ acceptance and affirmation both in the United States and abroad. Moreover, millions of LGBTQ+ people are themselves people of faith or learning to reconcile their own identities with beliefs and traditions of their families and communities.

Some South Asian and Pacific traditions have long histories of scriptural inclusion of LGBTQ+ identities and multiple perspectives of god(s), goddess(es) and divine spirits. Many other faiths that were once non-affirming now recognize that to embrace LGBTQ+ people is to emphasize strong religious and spiritual values such as compassion, love and a belief to treat others how one would like to be treated.

Countless congregations openly welcome and affirm their LGBTQ+ members, including blessing their weddings and welcoming full participation in worship and religious activities.

Ultimately, only you can decide how you practice your faith — and the role that faith plays in your life with regard to your sexual orientation or gender identity. We also recognize that LGBTQ+ family acceptance is often influenced by religious beliefs or traditions and cultural contexts.

Just like any group of people, religious communities vary greatly in their attitudes and level of inclusion of LGBTQ+ people, even within the same denomination or sect.

Moreover, the number of affirming religious communities across the country is steadily increasing, and that is true among AANHPI religious communities as well. Remember, only you can decide the degree to which faith plays a role in your life and how you choose to integrate it with living an authentic life as an LGBTQ+ person.

To learn more, visit HRC’s Religion & Faith resources.

LGBTQ+ AANHPI Immigrants

The immigrant experience is intricately tied with the lived experiences of many LGBTQ+ AANHPIs in the United States.

AANHPIs are the fastest growing ethnic or racial group in the United States, largely as a result of immigration.

An estimated

22.5 M Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

live in the U.S., including:

6 in 10 who are foreign-born
1.45 M who are undocumented, comprising 1 in 10 AANHPI immigrants

All seek the opportunity to better their lives in the U.S., to be safe from discrimination and to be free to live their full lives as LGBTQ+ people.

Many LGBTQ+ AANHPI immigrants come from countries that may be less accepting or even intolerant of LGBTQ+ people. In some countries, LGBTQ+ identities are still criminalized. In too many places, LGBTQ+ people are censored, jailed, tortured or even put to death. Others might come from conformist societies in which the LGBTQ+ community may be shunned or ostracized.

Unfortunately, some LGBTQ+ AANHPIs still encounter racial profiling when entering government buildings or boarding planes. Sometimes their gender presentation and/or perceived differences from their gender-marker on their IDs, in combination with their ethnic, racial or religious presentation, may trigger heightened scrutiny.

It is important to be vigilant and careful of potential discrimination.

It is equally important to identify supportive friends, family and community that affirm who you are, regardless of where you were born or how you choose to live out your identities.

Living in a Multicultural World

For many AANHPIs, especially those who are immigrants or the children of immigrants, it can feel like living in a multicultural world, where you must grapple with norms and expectations of American and AANHPI cultures.

Determining when, if and how to work through these overlapping realities — especially if they conflict — may first require identifying what is important to you personally. Indeed, the role your LGBTQ+ identity plays in relation with your AANHPI identity may vary depending on the context and your current situation.

Part of this often means engaging with bilinguality and cross-cultural communication. This may include speaking two or more languages with varying levels of regularity, whether at home, in places of worship, when among family or at community events. It can already be difficult for many people to express their sexual orientations or gender identities, especially when they are first coming out.

For those of us who must express it across multiple languages or cultures, it can be even more challenging.

For AANHPI youth who speak a primary language different from their parents, this linguistic barrier can make it even harder to express feelings or emotions. Moreover, in some languages, there may not be equivalent translations of LGBTQ+ terminology or concepts.

Just as there is no singular American or AANHPI experience,

there is no single way to live out your own ethnic or racial identity.

Especially in the absence of prominent LGBTQ+ figures in Asia and the Pacific Islands, it can sometimes feel like LGBTQ+ identities are not compatible with your AANHPI identity. Above all, know that there is no specific AANHPI “mold” you have to fit, even as you may feel pressure from your family or community. Being LGBTQ+ does not make you any less Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or any other national heritage or ethnic or racial identity you may hold.

“I didn’t want to come out to my mom in English. I came out to her in Urdu because I wanted her to know that coming to terms with my orientation was solely about me and not about my attending Berkeley or becoming Americanized.”
— Aleem Raja, former board member of Trikone, a San Francisco non-profit organization for LGBTQ+ people of South Asian descent

Other Coming Out Considerations

Coming Out at School

Coming out at school can be a significant decision for many young people, especially in communities or at campuses where LGBTQ+ people may not yet be fully embraced. At the same time, many school districts, colleges and universities actively and openly support their LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff. Before deciding to come out at school, you may first consider:

  • Does your city, state, school district or university have non-discrimination and anti-bullying policies to protect LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff?
  • If you are not fully out in your community or to your family, can your physical safety and privacy be guaranteed if you are out at school? For some college students who rely on their parents for financial support, you may need to carefully weigh your specific circumstances when coming out.
  • Can you seek out classmates, teachers, counselors and other adults at school whom you can trust and go to for support during your coming out process?
  • Does your school have a dedicated safe space or affirming organizations, including a Queer Straight Alliance, LGBTQ+ resource center or LGBTQ+ and AANHPI organizations?

For more information about this topic, please refer to Lambda Legal’s “Know Your Rights” for LGBTQ+ teens and young adults in school.

Coming Out at Work

Just as in other facets of life, being open at work can be a daunting challenge. But it can also relieve the daily stress of hiding who you are. At the same time, however, no one wants to put their job security or opportunity for advancement in jeopardy.

Before choosing to come out at work, you may first consider:

• Does your employer have a formal non-discrimination policy that specifically covers sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression? Check the official Equal Employment Opportunity statement (usually found on the company website and in the employee handbook).

  • Does your state or locality have a non-discrimination law including sexual orientation and gender identity/expression?
  • Is your company ranked on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index? If so, what rating has it earned?
  • Are your employer’s health benefits fully inclusive, including covering transition-related health care and domestic partner benefits?
  • What is the overall climate in your workplace, including whether other LGBTQ+ people are out in the office and whether co-workers make derogatory or supportive comments about LGBTQ+ people?

For more information about this topic, please refer to HRC’s “Coming Out at Work” and Workplace Equality resources.

Being an Ally

If you have a friend, family member or co-worker who is coming out, you can help them by being a supportive ally. However, be aware that they are the only person who can make the decision about how and when to come out with their LGBTQ+ identity.

You can help by researching and sharing culturally competent, linguistically appropriate resources; making introductions to others who are LGBTQ+ and allies; and speaking up when others make anti-LGBTQ+ jokes and gender assumptions. You can be an advocate for LGBTQ+ equality and fairness. You can speak out. Educate others, especially those for whom LGBTQ+ identities may be unfamiliar. Share information. We must all work together to build a better world that embraces diversity and personal freedom. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit HRC’s ally resources.

As both an individual and an educator, I have experienced and witnessed bullying in its many forms. And as the proud jichan, or grandpa, of a transgender grandchild, I hope that my granddaughter can feel safe going to school without fear of being bullied. I refuse to be a bystander while millions of people are dealing with the effects of bullying on a daily basis.

Representative Mike Honda (D-CA), Japanese-American & founding member and Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQI+ Equality Caucus

At the Intersections of Race and the LGBTQ+ Community

Racial discrimination continues to be a pervasive issue in our society, and LGBTQ+ people of color often must face heightened challenges in many facets of daily life.

“Being gay and Asian in America is like fighting a two-front battle. One not only has to fight racism and homophobia in society in general but also stereotypes and lack of representation in the gay community. With more awareness of gay Asian issues, and as more Asians become involved, I have confidence that there will be victory.” — Edward Kai Chiu

Unfortunately, just as it is in any community, the LGBTQ+ community is not untouched by these issues — and as you seek love and acceptance there may be times where you may have to confront that reality.

As you choose to come out and live authentically in your own way, you may find it helpful to surround yourself with others who recognize and affirm your identities — including both AANHPI and LGBTQ+. Many LGBTQ+ people, including those who may not find full support among our families or communities of heritage, find love and support from “chosen family,” who fully embrace us for who we are.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone.

Far beyond the proud community of LGBTQ+ AANHPIs, there are many who stand with you and who will accept you for who you are.

In 2021, President Biden established the Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The Commission advises the President on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AANHPI communities. In 2023, the White House released its National Strategy to Advance Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for AA and NHPI Communities.

LGBTQ+ AANHPI History and Culture

A Historical Appreciation of Sexual and Gender Diversity in Asia and the Pacific Islands

Although many LGBTQ+ AANHPIs still face discrimination and persecution in many countries, LGBTQ+ people have existed and been well-documented throughout history in Asia and the Pacific Islands.

In China, as far back as the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), several emperors were known to have male partners. One story tells of Emperor Ai (25 BCE - 1 BCE) resting in long robes with a male lover lying on his sleeve. The emperor was so warmed by this sight that when he had to get up, he decided to cut his sleeve to avoid disturbing his lover’s sleep. This story is the origin of the phrase “passion of the cut sleeve” (Duanxiuzhipi) to represent intimacy between two men.1

Opposition to queer relationships was not widespread until the Westernization efforts of the late Qing dynasty (1644-1912) and early Republic of China. However, the Qing Dynasty also saw the development of the Golden Orchid Society (Jinglanhui), a collection of women’s organizations centered around the silk industry. Members of the society took oaths of sisterhood, refused to take husbands, and, in some cases, entered into queer relationships with each other.2

Meanwhile, many regard Guanyin, the “Goddess of Mercy” to be a transgender deity.3

Japan has a well-documented history of queer relations, including among the samurai and Buddhist monks. One Shinto myth concerns Shinu no Hafuri and Ama no Hafuri, male lovers who were servants of a primordial goddess and are said to have introduced queer love to the world.4 Anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes were introduced to Japan during the Meiji Restoration of the late 19th century, when the government began adopting contemporary European social norms.5

Korea had Hwarang warriors, “flower boys of Silla,” the dynasty that united the Korean Peninsula in the 7th century. These elite archers who dressed in long flowing gowns have been interpreted by many historians to hold LGBTQ+ identities.

In India, the Kama Sutra, an ancient text on emotional fulfillment and sexuality, records several queer identities, including svairini, independent women who refuse husbands and love women.6 Depictions of queer relationships are also found in numerous pre-colonial temples.7 As in other countries, imperialism spread anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes and policies during the 19th century.

Throughout South Asia, the term Hijra includes transgender people, intersex people and non-binary people. These individuals, who have been well documented since antiquity, are officially recognized today by governments in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Many Asian cultures have long had terms for LGBTQ+ individuals who may not fit within Western or other traditional binary gender structures. These terms, sometimes treated as a third gender, include phet thi sam in Thailand, meti in Nepal, the khanith in the Arabian Peninsula, bakla in the Philippines and mak nyah in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Islands have a multitude of broadly LGBTQ+ traditions and identities, including mahu in Hawaii, fa’afafine in Samoa, fakaleiti in Tonga, vaka sa lewa lewa in Fiji, rae rae in Tahiti, fafafine in Niue, akava’ine in the Cook Islands and whakawahine among the Maori of New Zealand.

LGBTQ+ Progress in the 21st Century

LGBTQ+ equality has seen encouraging forward momentum in recent years in Asia and the Pacific Islands, led by the courage and persistence of local activists and allies even in many countries where LGBTQ+ identities are still ostracized or persecuted.

Taiwan, well-known for hosting the largest annual LGBTQ+ pride event in Asia, became the first country in East Asia to have marriage equality in 2019 Nepal became the second country to legalize marriage equality in 2023. Meanwhile, in Japan, several localities have begun registering LGBTQ+ partnerships, a clear sign of growing acceptance.

New Zealand has had marriage equality since 2013 and Guam became the first U.S. territory to pass marriage equality in 2015 as well as comprehensive workplace non-discrimination protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand passed a Gender Equality Act in 2015 prohibiting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and is likely to recognize same-sex relationships in the near future. Although LGBTQ+ couples still do not have legal recognition in Vietnam, the country recently repealed a ban on performing queer marriage ceremonies.

Out elected officials and other leaders provide hope and strength for local LGBTQ+ communities, including:

Sunil Babu Pant, longtime Nepali LGBTQ+ rights and HIV activist and Asia’s first openly LGBTQ+ national-level legislator

Geraldine Roman, the first openly transgender woman elected to the Congress of the Philippines

Manvendra Singh Gohil, an openly gay prince who has been a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in India and around the world

Japan’s Tomoya Hosoda, the world’s first openly transgender man elected to public office.

Groundbreaking Japanese politicians Aya Kamikawa, a transgender woman, and Taiga Ishikawa, a gay man, who have both continuously advocated for LGBTQ+ rights

Kanako Otsuji, the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the Japanese House of Representatives

Audrey Tang, the first openly transgender cabinet official to serve in Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, after she was appointed to lead the government’s digital innovation efforts

Even in countries with limited legal or political progress, emboldened activists and a growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ identities provide an optimistic outlook for the future. For instance, after Chinese social media giant Weibo announced that it would begin censoring LGBTQ+ content, a massive user-led protest by LGBTQ+ Chinese and allies led to the company reversing its decision.

At the same time, many LGBTQ+ people in Asia and the Pacific Islands continue to face discrimination and even violence, including recent waves of state-sponsored persecution in Central Asia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq and Malaysia. As LGBTQ+ AANHPIs in the United States and believers in equality, we must continue to stand with communities abroad and advocate for global LGBTQ+ equality

Contemporary LGBTQ+ AANHPI Leaders in the United States

Today, we celebrate the myriad stories and contributions of LGBTQ+ AANHPI leaders in the United States who continue to provide leadership, visibility and pride to our diverse community.

In 2012, Representative Mark Takano (D-CA), a career educator, became the first openly LGBTQ+ person of color elected to Congress. Georgia’s Sam Park similarly became the first openly gay man elected to the state’s general assembly in 2016. Benjamin Cruz, who made headlines for being openly gay when he was first nominated for judgeship in the 1980s, became the Speaker of the Guam Legislature in 2017. And Kim Coco Iwamoto, a descendent of World War II internees, became the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender elected official in 2006 when she was elected to the Hawaii Board of Education.

In local communities and across the nation, we celebrate the work of advocates like Geena Rocero, Glenn Magpantay, Mia Frances Yamamoto, Sasanka Jinadasa, Jim Toy, Pauline Park, Ben de Guzman, Urooj Arshad, Cecilia Chung, Dan Choi, Mohan Sundararaj, Pabitra Benjamin, Kham Moua, SUNAH and Faisal Alam, who challenge us to question the bias, discrimination and prejudice that disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people of color in America.

We also look to artists and writers like June Millington, Parvez Sharma, Jose Antonio Vargas, Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, Helen Zia, Kit Yan, Terisa Siagatonu and Ocean Vuong, who share LGBTQ+ stories and intersectional perspectives through their work. Meanwhile, athletes like Esera Tuaolo, Amazin LeThi, Julie Chu and Schuyler Bailar fight for equality both inside and outside the sports arena.

LGBTQ+ Stories in Film and Television

Although LGBTQ+ AANHPIs are often underrepresented in mass media and entertainment, trailblazing artists continue to pave the way to share our stories.

Celebrities from Margaret Cho, Bryan Chan and Alec Mapa, to Rex Lee, Jenny Shimizu, Maulik Pancholy, BD Wong, Eugene Lee Yang, Chella Man, Stephanie Hsu, Tan France and Gia Gunn live proudly, openly and authentically, inspiring others to live their truth and serving as role models for AANHPI youth.

Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ cinema and television are on the rise in Asia and the Pacific Islands, bolstered by the wider accessibility provided by digital platforms. Although LGBTQ+ films have flourished in the region for decades, mainstream media platforms and networks increasingly feature LGBTQ+ actors, storylines and themes in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, but also in countries where LGBTQ+ people face greater societal barriers, including China, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Before winning accolades for Brokeback Mountain (2005), filmmaker Ang Lee created The Wedding Banquet (1993), an Oscar-nominated story of a Taiwanese-American gay man and cross-cultural family acceptance.

Yuri on Ice, named 2016 Anime of the Year, prominently depicts a same-sex relationship that has drawn praise from fans and international figure skaters alike in one of Japan’s most popular sports.

Moana (2016) stars Auli’i Cravalho as the first Pacific Islander DIsney princess. In 2020, Auli’i came out as bisexual, creating greater visibility for AANHPI LGBTQ+ people.

Everything Everywhere All At Once, co-directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, won Best Picture at the 95th Academy Awards in 2023. It features Stephanie Hsu as Joy Wang, whose coming out journey is integral to the film’s story.

More and more primetime television shows are featuring LGBTQ+ AANHPI characters, including Code Black’s Malaya Pineda, How to Get Away with Murder’s Oliver Hampton (a HIV-positive character portrayed by openly gay Conrad Ricamora) and Superstore’s Mateo Liwanag (an undocumented immigrant portrayed by openly gay Nicos Santos).

Additional Resources

Educate yourself and others. Support and resources are readily available.

About the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) empowers LGBTQ+ Asians and Pacific Islanders through community capacity building, policy advocacy, and representation. We support and resource LGBTQ+API grassroots organizing and leadership across the United States and Territories; advance an intersectional justice and equity agenda through policy advocacy, education, and mobilization; and ensure LGBTQ+API representation in research and resource development.

Human Rights Campaign’s AANHPI & Proud Working Group

Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders working with the Human Rights Campaign for full LGBTQ+ equality! Our work together is inspired by three pillars: Visibility & Representation, Political Impact, and Recruiting AANHPI people across the country to join our work to achieve LGBTQ+ equality. Visit our resource site and sign up to get active: Email questions to:

Family is Still Family

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and Asian Pride Project have many multilingual resources to help AANHPI parents who have LGBTQ+ children. Videos are available in seven Asian languages, translated informational leaflets in 25 Asian and Pacific Islander languages, live local workshops and parent support groups in many cities.

Out & Equal is the premier organization working exclusively on LGBTQ workplace equality. Through its worldwide programs, Fortune 500 partnerships and annual Workplace Summit conference, Out & Equal helps LGBTQ+ people thrive and supports organizations creating a culture of belonging for all.

PFLAG supports parents, families and friends who support their LGBTQ+ loved ones. Please visit PFLAG’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Virtual Meeting page for additional resources specific to Asian Pacific Islander families. Local chapters of PFLAG also offer AANHPI-specific resources and support, including chapters in New York City, the California San Gabriel Valley and Washington State.

Please see below to find resources in your area.

Other Coming Out Guides

Black LGBTQ+ Coming Out Resource

For those who identify as Black LGBTQ+ people, the coming out process can be complex to navigate. Coming Out: Living Authentically as Black LGBTQ+ People is designed for those embarking on their own coming out journey at the intersections of LGBTQ+ and Black identities. This guide aims to recognize the unique experiences Black LGBTQ+ people have in coming out, while understanding that coming out is a personal choice and the lifelong coming out experience is different for everyone.

View Here

Latine LGBTQ+ Coming Out Resource

Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ+ Latine Americans resource is designed to aid LGBTQ+ Latine Americans in navigating the intersectional challenges when coming out. For those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ and as Latine Americans, the coming out process can be even more complex to navigate. Often, it requires a unique approach that can cut across multiple languages, cultures, nationalities, religious identities and family generations.

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Salir del Clóset: Vivir Auténticamente como Latinoamericanes LGBTQ+

Para quienes nos identificamos como LGBTQ+ y como latinoamericanes, el proceso de salir del clóset puede ser aún más complejo. A menudo, requiere un acercamiento único que puede atravesar múltiples lenguas, culturas, nacionalidades, identidades religiosas y generaciones familiares.

Ver Aquí

Coming Out: Living Authentically as Transgender or Non-Binary

Coming Out: Living Authentically as Transgender or Non-Binary will use the phrase “transgender and non-binary” to try to best capture this broad array of identities. That being said, it is important to recognize that not all people in these groups may identify as transgender or non-binary. In addition, there may be transgender or nonbinary people whose gender does not fit in any of the terms described above. This resource is meant for anyone and everyone whose gender does not fit what they were assigned at birth. No matter who you are, we affirm you, and your gender is valid.

View Here

Coming Out: Living Authentically as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual+

Coming Out: Living Authentically as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual+ was designed to help you and your loved ones through the coming out process in realistic and practical terms. It acknowledges that the experience of coming out and living openly covers the full spectrum of human emotion — from paralyzing fear to unbounded euphoria.

View Here

Coming Out: Living Authentically as Bisexual+

Coming out is different for every person. For bisexual people, coming out can present some unique challenges. As bisexual people, we face skepticism and stereotypes about our sexuality, we are ignored and excluded from LGBTQ+ spaces, and we are often invisible to each other - challenges that can make coming out a complicated process.

View Here

Being an LGBTQ+ Ally

Being an LGBTQ+ Ally is designed to help build understanding and comfort. If you are new to LGBTQ+ issues, we will answer many of your questions. Or, if you have known LGBTQ+ people for years and are looking to find new ways to show your support, you can skim this resource and take the pieces that are relevant to you. It’s ok to not know everything — we’re here to help.

View Here

Our Partner

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) empowers LGBTQ+ Asians and Pacific Islanders through community capacity building, policy advocacy, and representation. We support and resource LGBTQ+API grassroots organizing and leadership across the United States and Territories; advance an intersectional justice and equity agenda through policy advocacy, education, and mobilization; and ensure LGBTQ+API representation in research and resource development.