Content warning: homophobia
I realized that I was in need of hope when it confronted me at a gathering of LGBTQ+ Asian Pacific Islanders (API). There, I heard the stories of Filipino Christians advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, LGBTQ+ Southeast Asian refugees combating police brutality and deportation, and Pacific Islanders fighting for queer and trans justice. As I sat in the back of the room listening to different individuals share their stories and witnessing their existences, I felt filled with hope because of them. I was brought to silent tears, feeling overwhelmed and raw, because their existence reminded me of what I haven’t dared to hope for.
Lately, I’ve been worn and tired of trying to find answers to injustice. For too long, I felt consumed with seeking resolution, going in circles in my mind about uphill battles: the pastors and leaders who will never be held accountable for attempting conversion therapy and for outing me, Inter Varsity leaders who won’t be held accountable for firing LGBT-affirming staff, friends and family members who will never affirm queer and trans people, a god who I don’t know truly cares about me or is real. I felt overwhelmed and tired just thinking about people whose lives have been taken or broken apart by police brutality, deportations, unfair housing conditions, lack of access to medical/ mental health resources.
I’ve been shelving my heavy emotions around these injustices for a time so that I can recover and enjoy life. Life has been pretty good: I’m financially stable these days; I have the luxury of working part-time and working on music the rest of the time. I have friends who care about me, and my mental health has been drastically improving in the past year. I’m glad I’m taking the time to enjoy life and fill my headspace with things besides pain.
But sometimes I feel the temptation not just to shelve my feelings about injustice, but to pretend that I’m done with it. I’m reminding myself that I can enjoy my life, but also revisit and confront pain and injustice. I can’t pretend that I don’t need healing or that injustice doesn’t continue to affect people around me.
I still value taking time to recover from engaging deeply with injustice, but I don’t want to give into the desire to forget about it. I’m challenging myself to stay connected to the hope evident in the resilience of LGBTQ+ APIs around me, who I am so grateful for. I’m challenging myself stay hopeful that a just world is possible, not just for myself, but for everyone who needs it.
About the Author: Yiann grew up in the Bay Area and is spending most of their time between youth education and music right now. They sing the kind of soulful, reflective songs that belong to a rainy day, and and their songs are most often about unanswered prayers. Yiann performs around the Bay Area, and you can keep up with their music @kapwatheband or @yiannc.
Photo credit: Matthew Evearitt at beholdcreators.com