API Equality-LA wouldn’t be the leading API LGBT organization today without the contributions of our stellar volunteer activists. Each month, it is our great pleasure to recognize one of them as our Activist of the Month. Join us as we get to know these incredible people who devote so much of their time and talent to advancing our mission.
We’re proud to share 5 minutes with API Equality-LA: Elis Im. She is our May 2012 Activist of the Month!
Congrats on being chosen by API Equality-LA (APIELA) as the Activist of the Month!
Thank you so much! I’m honored and surprised.
Why are you surprised? You’re great!
I guess it was unexpected, that’s all. Now I gotta send this to all my friends…
So how did you hear about APIELA? And how did you become involved?
I attended APIELA’s New Member Orientation in November 2011. Earlier that year, I took a trip up to Berkeley for Cal Queer and Asian Conference 2011 (QACON), and came back home refreshed and ready to look for a community here in LA. I found out about QACON by searching “queer” and “Asian” on Google, went on a road trip, and found out about resources here in LA through people.
Cool! So your experience at QACON led you to APIELA? Thanks QACON!
Yeah! Thanks QACON! Funny how I had to go up north to find APIELA.
What about the conference in Berkeley ignited your curiosity about the gay Asian community that you wanted to be more involved in LA?
Yeah, initially I just went up to the conference to learn and meet other queer APIs (I made the excuse to take a road trip). I learned so much that weekend through workshops, hearing people’s stories, and listening to inspiring keynotes. Since then, I wanted to be involved in something as empowering here.
That’s great! A lot of APIELA’s hard work gets accomplished in our committees. Which ones are you involved in?
I’m involved in the Faith and Public Education committees.
What do you like most about working in those committees?
The Faith committee focuses on building relationships with API faith communities, a group that I’ve grown up with. I admire the sometimes-difficult work of building these bridges and am hopeful of what we can accomplish. Just as I benefited from QACON’s workshops, I enjoy taking part in creating meaningful and creative workshops with the Public Education committee.
I’m glad you’re finding a place in APIELA to express your creativity. Since you’re an artist of sorts, right?
Yes, I’m a graphic designer and illustrator.
Awesome. Tell us more about the kinds of projects you’re doing.
I’m currently working on an educational website for younger students in collaboration with my friends, one of whom has written rhymes and created characters to teach healthy ways to grow and interact with others. For instance, these characters teach children, as wells as adults, how to L.O.V.E.–listen, observe, value your experience (shout out to Anna Koo, who wrote this!).
Wow, that’s awesome! Sounds like important andfun work. We’d love to collaborate with you on creative projects!
I’d love to be involved with promoting the Pioneers Project once it’s complete. I haven’t been to the meetings due to scheduling, but sign me up to work on posters, ads, DVD covers, etc.! Maybe I should just attend the meeting first, ha ha.
Deal! Yes, the Pioneers Project is still in its infancy and has immense potential. We’d love your creative input and eye for design! As you know, our community is involved in many endeavors and many fights for equality and fair treatment. Which ones are you most drawn to?
In order for us to achieve equality and fair treatment, I think visibility and education are the first steps. Without our API LGBTQ stories being shared in places like API faith communities, these issues tend to get ignored. It’s also imperative that we take care of ourselves, our API LGBTQ community, and to not ignore our own needs. We have to acknowledge and work with our diversity.
Yes! Well-said. And we certainly value your story and your help, Elis! Thanks for sharing with us. Oh and, one last question: if you could have any superpowers, what would it be and why?
The ability to be at multiple places at once. Then I would never miss a show, an event, or an APIELA committee meeting.