The media are covering the lives, stories, and issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people more frequently, and often in a more fair, accurate, and balanced manner. Repeatedly, however, Asian Pacific Islander Community LGBT voices, perspectives, and opinions are left out of the picture.
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Asian Pacific Islander Resource Kit
FAIR ACCURATE & INCLUSIVE
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Asian Pacific Islanders (API) are minorities within a minority. Although the media are covering the lives, stories and issues of LGBT people more frequently, and often in a more fair, accurate and balanced manner, repeatedly API LGBT voices, perspectives and opinions are left out of the picture. Within the “mainstream” LGBT community, Asian Pacific Islanders can feel invisible since images in LGBT publications are primarily white. Furthermore when APIs are represented, they are presented stereotypical, exoticized or as the “china doll”, which reinforces stereotypes of APIs being silent, demure and sexual objects.
With this resource kit, GLAAD encourages journalists to cover API LGBT people’s lives, families, accomplishments and issues in their own right, and include their perspectives in other relevant coverage. The Communities of Asian Pacific Islander Media Kit provides guidelines for coverage, terminology and contact information for API LGBT organizations for more inclusive, fair and balanced coverage of the API LGBT community.
Stories and opinion pieces by the API community are good opportunities to increase the diversity of voices in the media. Here are some general rules and suggestions to create an inclusive representation of this vastly diverse community.
Recognize that the API LGBT community is diverse and that no one voice can or should represent an entire community. API LGBT people encompass a broad spectrum of life experiences. We are a community that spans several languages, countries of origin, religions and are present in every region of this country and every economic class.
Include the API LGBT community in coverage that does not necessarily have to do with Asian or Asian Pacific Islanders. Interviews and public opinion pieces are good opportunities to be inclusive.
Differentiate between those who are American citizens and those who are citizens of other countries. If a story is about American citizens of Japanese descent, use “Japanese American” rather than “Japanese.” The same rule can be used for other ethnic groups – Chinese/Chinese Americans, Filipinos/Filipino Americans, Korean/ Korean Americans, Indian/ Indian Americans, etc. This reduces implications that people of Asian descent are all foreign or foreign born. If referring to Asians from both Asia and the U.S., the term “people of Asian descent” can alternately be used. This can also apply when describing specific ethnicities.
Avoid hyphenating racial and/ or ethnic identities. Use “Chinese American” or “Asian American” rather than “Chinese-American” or “Asian-American”. Hyphenation implies that a person is not a true American.
Avoid common stereotypes, particularly in ad and fashion spread imagery. Images of the “China Doll” and “Geisha” reinforce stereotypes of Asian Pacific Islanders as passive, weak or as sex objects. Conversely, images of the “Dragon Lady” imply Asians and Asian Americans cannot be trusted and are foreign enemies.
Don’t exoticize Asians, Asian Americans and Asian culture. This reinforces stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans being “foreigners.” There are a large number of Asian Americans who were born in the United States and have never been to Asian countries; unless the article is specifically about Asian Americans, try to avoid making connections to Asian countries unless the article is specifically about Asian Americans visiting Asia or about immigration.
Avoid Eurocentric terms such as “The Orient” and “Far East” to describe Asia. Also, avoid the term “Asiatic” as an adjective to describe Asians or Asian Americans. This can imply an enemy race.
Do not use the term “Oriental” to describe somebody of Asian Descent. This term is only appropriate for describing inanimate objects, such as rugs.
Consult with API LGBT leaders and organizations if you have questions about complex issues. When dealing with an issue that is unfamiliar, community leaders and experts can offer invaluable resources that can assist you in providing the best possible coverage.
There are a wide variety of stories that are inclusive of API LGBT lives:
From the issuance of marriage licenses to the Musgrave Federal Marriage Amendment, LGBT issues are heavily present in the media. While covering these stories, represent diverse opinions by including API LGBT voices and perspectives. Interviews and public opinion pieces are good opportunities to be inclusive.
Media Professionals can:
Profile the work of prominent figures in the API LGBT community, locally and nationally, in politics, entertainment or other professional positions.
Cover your local API organizations and their events. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Washington DC all have very active API organizations that hold several impressive events per year. Covering these events will bring diversity and interest within Features and City Life news sections.
Explore some of the socio-cultural factors within API families and cultures such as the taboo of expressing sexuality, religion and the family or the myth of homosexuality as a Western epidemic. These contribute to the difficulties of being out and LGBT in the API community.
Explore stories of bi-national LGBT couples and the many problems they face when asked to leave the U.S. because of undocumented status.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Asian: A term that either describes somebody of Asian descent or something that comes from Asia. When writing about Asians who are American citizens use Asian Pacific Islanders (API), Asian Pacific American (APA) or Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI)
Asian American: This phrase was first used in the 1980 Census to describe American citizens from all Asian ethnic backgrounds. It is a commonly used term and is preferred by those of Asian descent who were born and raised in the United States.
Asian Pacific Islander (API): This is a relatively new term that is inclusive of both Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as a community. Some other acceptable terms are Asian Pacific American and Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI).
Desi: This is a colloquial name for people of South Asian descent, particularly those of Indian and Pakistani descent, to self describe each other or their community. The term is derogatory outside of the South Asian community. The media should avoid using this term unless quoting somebody or used within a title of an event.
Hapa: This is a term that describes somebody of mixed ethnic or racial background, usually (but not always) Asian/Pacific Islander and Caucasian. It comes from the Hawaiian term “hapa haole”, which means “half-white.” It is becoming increasingly used by the Asian Pacific Islander community and is not necessarily considered derogatory.
Indian, Indian American: Terms used to describe somebody of Indian descent (not “Native American”). Avoid using the term “Asian Indian”.
Filipino/Filipina: Filipino is used to describe either men or mixed groups; Filipina is used to describe women. Since there is no “f” in Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines, an alternate spelling is either Pilipino or Pilipina.
Native Hawaiian: This is a term to describe somebody who is born of Polynesian descent whose ancestors are originally from Hawaii. This is not to be confused with somebody who resides within the state of Hawaii.
NHOPI: An acronym for Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Pacific Islander: A term to describe somebody of Polynesian, Micronesian or Melanesian descent. This indicates, but not limited to, people of Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian and Guamanian descent.
Pinoy/Pinay: This term describes a Filipino American man (Pinoy) or woman (Pinay). While it is widely used within Filipino American communities, some consider it derogatory. It is advised that media use “Filipino American” unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
Potato Queen: This is a slang term to describe LGBT Asian Pacific Islanders, particularly men, who only date Caucasian people. While it is used tongue-in-cheek, it is considered derogatory by some people and, therefore, advised that media avoid it, unless quoting someone who self-identifies as a potato queen or uses that term or when it is used by an Asian Pacific Islander in an opinion or editorial piece.
QAPA: Queer Asian Pacific American. An acronym that is used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning Asian Pacific Americans. While commonly used within the LGBT Asian Pacific American community, it is not universally used.
Rice Queen: This is a slang term used to describe LGBT Caucasian people, particularly men, who only date Asian Pacific Islanders. While it is used tongue-in-cheek, it is considered derogatory by some people and, therefore, advised that media avoid it, unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way or if it is used by an Asian Pacific Islander in an opinion or editorial piece.
South Asia: An area of Asia that includes the Indian subcontinent. It is made up of the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet.
Southeast Asia: An area of Asia that is comprised of the following countries: Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Sticky Rice: This is a slang term used to describe LGBT Asian Pacific Islanders, particularly men, who only date other Asian Pacific Islanders. While it is tongue-in-cheek, it is considered derogatory by some people and, therefore, advised that media avoid it, unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way or if it is used by an Asian Pacific Islander in an opinion or editorial piece.
Asian Pacific Lesbian, Bisexual, Women And Transgender Network (APLBTN)
China Rainbow Network (CRN)
South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association of NY (SALGA-NYC)
Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT)
Southeast Asian Transgender AIDS Prevention Program (T-PRO)
EquAsian – API LGBTQ youth group run by/for youth
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