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PAQ was founded in 2017. Photo:phillyasianqueer.com
PAQ was founded in 2017. Photo:phillyasianqueer.com

Philly Asian and Queer, creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ AAPI individuals in the City of Brotherly Love

The nonprofit has monthly afternoon and tea discussions on a range of topics and runs a book club.

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The Asian community has dealt with an overwhelming amount of physical hatred and racism since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to statistics compiled by Stop AAPI Hate, there have been nearly 3,795 incidents received by the organization’s reporting center from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

On top of dealing with extreme racism and physical attacks, the Asian queer community has been struggling on how to have their voices heard.

One nonprofit organization willing to change the way Asians in the LGBTQ+ community are perceieved is Philly Asian and Queer (PAQ), a nonprofit organization founded in 2017 that is becoming a second home for Asian residents in Philadelphia.

The founders were working at the William Way Center when they noticed many hotline phone calls coming from queer Asian residents.

“They just wanted to form a safe space for queer API individuals,” Matthew Wong, the co-founder of PAQ, said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.

PAQ has been a welcoming environment for Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) in the LGBTQ+ community. It is not hosting in-person events just yet, but PAQ has a growing list of virtual events that cater to the Asian LGBTQ+ community.

“Our latest event is our afternoon tea and discussion for queer residents in Philly can have a space to talk,” Regina Lam, a member of the steering committee at PAQ, said in an interview with AL DÍA News.

Topics of discussion range from coming out to parents to racism in America, and sexuality.

“Whether coming out in a Cambodian family, as a Southeast Asian person, or an older queer AAPI person, we try to honor all of those identities and bring all of their unique stories to the table,” said Lam.

The virtual monthly meetings take place through Zoom and have an event page on Facebook.

The afternoon tea and discussion for June will be this Sunday, June 20 at 3 p.m., and will discuss discrimination in AAPI communities.

Volunteers from the organization will also start by talking about the fetishization and submissive roles Asian women are often faced with.

PAQ does not have a hotline center of its own at the moment, but leaders are hoping people can often come to their events and speak about whatever is on their mind.

“We are hopeful that if someone does call us talking about their issues, that they will be able to come to one of our meetings and discuss it with us,” said Wong.

In addition to their afternoon tea and discussion, PAQ is also having a book discussion on toxic masculinity and gender in I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya.

The virtual event will be through Zoom, and the William Way Center is donating 12 copies of the book for participants

To learn more about PAQ and to check out other virtual events, visit their website.

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