WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute has released a historic study, Living in the Margins: A National Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, based on data from the largest-ever national survey of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) LGBT Americans. Among the disturbing findings: 75 percent of respondents reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment based on their sexual orientation and 85 percent reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment based on their race or ethnicity.
Nearly every LGBT Asian and Pacific Islander (98 percent) who took part in the study had experienced at least one form of discrimination and/or harassment during his/her life time.
“The lives of Asians and Pacific Islanders are complex, and they are made invisible by popular perceptions of our community as ‘the model minority,” said Mala Nagarajan of Trikone-Northwest in Seattle, Wash. “This report helps shatter those myths and raises important issues from which we as a community can and need to mobilize.”
“When hate violence and harassment are cited as the community’s top concern and nearly one in five survey respondents has experienced physical harassment for being either Asian/Pacific Islander or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, it underscores the need for Congress to pass and the president to sign federal hate crimes legislation,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Living in the Margins is based on analysis of survey data from 863 respondents who live in a total of 38 states and the District of Columbia in a pattern that closely reflects the distribution of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This online survey was conducted from June through September 2006 in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. It included a variety of questions focusing on basic demographic information, experiences of discrimination and/or harassment, policy priorities and political behavior. Respondents were recruited through invitations on listservs and websites created by API LGBT community organizations in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu. Special appeals were also made to increase participation from traditionally underrepresented groups,
including South Asians, Pacific Islanders, Koreans, women, transgender people and elders.
Alain Dang, Task Force policy analyst and lead author of the study, at the report release with Ben de Guzman of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress and Doreena Wong, co-chair of API Equality – LA.
“As the Asian and Pacific Islander community grows in size and clout, we cannot leave behind Asians and Pacific Islanders who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We are a part of both the API and LGBT communities and we raise our voices for inclusion in national debates around comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform, punitive bans on marriage and hate violence that tears our community apart. We are silent at our own peril,” said Doreena Wong, co-chair of API Equality–Los Angeles.
“Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT community members report pervasive harassment in the form of homophobia in the API community and racism in the LGBT community. They are concerned with comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform, how they are portrayed in the media, and protecting their families and themselves from violence and harassment,” said Alain Dang, a Task Force policy analyst and the study’s lead author. “These findings add to the growing body of evidence that support the need for not only legislative intervention, but community introspection.”
• Nearly every respondent (98 percent) had experienced at least one form of discrimination and/or harassment in their lives: 75 percent reported that they had experienced discrimination and/or harassment based on their sexual orientation and 85 percent reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment based on their race or ethnicity.
• The most important issues facing API LGBT Americans are hate violence/harassment, media representation, marriage equality and immigration.
• Nearly all respondents (89 percent) agreed that homophobia and/or transphobia are problems within the broader API community. In addition, 78 percent agreed that API LGBT people experience racism within the predominantly white LGBT community.
• API LGBT Americans are very politically active, with 67 percent reporting that they planned to vote in the 2006 midterm election. Approximately 20 percent reported that they were ineligible to vote. Strong majorities of respondents also reported that they participate in other political activities, including signing petitions, participating in marches or rallies and contacting their elected officials.
• Only 50 percent of respondents said that English was their native language. Mandarin (11 percent), Cantonese (8 percent), Tagalog (6 percent) and Vietnamese (5 percent) were the most frequently cited native languages. Nearly all LGBT informational and advocacy materials are produced in English. Few resources are printed in any Asian language.
• Demographics of respondents: More than a dozen ethnicities were represented in the sample, including Chinese (40 percent), Filipino (19 percent), Japanese (11 percent) and Asian Indian (10 percent). Smaller numbers of Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, Malaysian, Thai and Pakistani respondents also participated. These ethnic groups are Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, a term that encompasses a vast collection of ethnic groups with unique histories, cultures and migrations within both their Asian or Pacific Island ancestral country of origin and the United States.
• Fifty-three percent of the participants identified as men, 41 percent as women and 10 percent as transgender. This adds up to more than 100 percent because respondents could select more than one option.
• Forty-seven percent of respondents self-identified as gay, 19 percent as lesbian and 9 percent as bisexual. Twenty percent identified as “queer,” with women more than twice as likely as men to choose that label. Five percent chose various other labels.
• One-third of respondents reported being in a committed relationship and 10 percent reported having a domestic partner.