Join Hotpot! at the Trans Health Conference this weekend

Hello hotpot!

I hope that everyone is well and enjoying the beautiful weather!

The *Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference* sponsored by the Mazzoni Center is this Thursday  June 2nd to Saturday June 4th.

There are a ton of events, activities and workshops happening throughout the conference as well as health service opportunities (HIV testing/STD screening, pap smears and clinical  breast/chest exams).  Please check out http://www.trans-health.org to see what might interest you.  Pre-registration is still going on so it’s not too late!

Van and I are presenting a workshop called *Our Lives: Queer API Experiences
* on *Saturday June 4th from 12:45 pm to 2:05 pm.*  We invite you to join us
for an open discussion around Asian/Asian American cultural backgrounds and
stories in regards to being transgendered, gender-queer or gender
non-conforming!

http://workshops-2011.trans-health.org/public/workshops/1734

hotpot! is also working with Caitlin Barry of Nationalities Service Center
and the Defender Association of Philadelphia for a workshop called *Border
Crossings: Immigration and Transgender Communities* on *Saturday June 4th
from 5:30 pm to 6:50 pm*.  Laurent will be presenting along with
Caitlin about how trans and gender nonconforming immigrants are
disproportionately targeted for criminalization, immigration detention and
deportation.  This workshop will not only cover why immigration is a queer
and Trans issue but also why it’s a queer API issue!  This is a workshop not
to be missed!

http://workshops-2011.trans-health.org/public/workshops/370

As I said before there is so much going on and it would be great if you’d
like to attend the workshops that our fellow hotpot! members are a part of!

-Tay-

<http://workshops-2011.trans-health.org/public/list><http://workshops-2011.trans-health.org/public/list>

Prep for Dyke March and Pride

In hotpot! fashion we enjoyed yummy food at our last potluck. In addition we started making signs for the Dyke March and Pride.

Summer Kick Off picnic

Save the Date: Friday, May 27th

We’re going to have a summer kick off picnic from 6-9pm on Friday, May 27th. Exact Location to be determined and will be posted on the list serv.

There is a lot to celebrate. Come find out…

who is working in VT at an arts camp.

who is going to be a principle.

who just graduated from Temple.

whose paintings were accepted into a show at William Way.

who are going away for awesome summer internships.

what we’re presenting at the Trans Health Conference.

Join us and tell us what you’re celebrating this summer.

Please RSVP to hotpotphilly@gmail.com so we can figure out how much food to get. We’re considering Korean BBQ or Indonesian fare. If you have a preference, leave us a comment.

Profile: HotPot! Co-Founder

Check out Alison’s Interview by a local gay newspaper, PGN – posted on their February 2011 issue.

HotPot! and bubble tea

A ccording to RainbowRumpus.org (a fabulous LGBTQ site for kids), in southern China during the late Qing Dynasty, two unrelated women could join together in an oath of sisterhood known as the Golden Orchid Society. The society comprised women who took an oath to the goddess Guan Yin (believed to be transgender) to never have sexual relations with men. Women chose to join the society for lots of different reasons, one of which was a desire to marry a woman. Once married, the women lived together and cared for each other and their families. In a journal written in 1937, a traveler described “two women [who] dwell together, always existing as if they were one woman. They are as close as a stalk of grain coming through a stone.” The Golden Orchid Society is, alas, long gone, but there is a new group for queer Asian and Pacific Islander women, trans and gender-nonconforming folks. This week we spoke to Alison, one of the founders of HotPot!

PGN: Tell me a little about yourself.

AL: I was born in Baltimore, Md., but I grew up in a small town called Westerville outside of Columbus, Ohio. I have a younger brother, Chris. My dad is retired but he did IT, computer technology work. He’s Chinese American. My grandmother was pregnant when she immigrated and he was almost born on the boat coming over to the States. My mom is a librarian. She’s white, of German-English descent, dating back to colonial times.

PGN: My mother was a librarian too. What was your favorite book?

AL: I really liked “The Paper Bag Princess.” It’s about a princess who’s engaged to be married to a handsome prince when a dragon burns her kingdom and kidnaps the prince. She sets out after them in a paper-bag dress after her clothes get destroyed in the fire. She rescues the prince but he doesn’t want to have anything to do with her in her tattered clothes and tells her to return when she looks suitable. She realizes he’s a jerk and leaves.

PGN: What are two family traditions that you enjoy?

AL: My mom always gave us Advent calendars. I loved the artwork and the excitement of opening the door and getting a little gift each day counting down to Christmas. My dad loved games, so we played a lot of mah-jongg, which is a traditional Chinese game, as well as other board games. And food — sharing food with large multi-course meals. My dad is the cook of the house and makes delicious dishes, whether it is salmon with ginger and scallion or a spaghetti and meat sauce. Then he usually beats us all in card games.

PGN: Was it difficult being mixed?

AL: Being that we were in a mostly white, small town, I think the difficulty was the exaggerated interest in someone for being a little bit different. There was also some racism and bullying because of identifying as Chinese.

PGN: What’s great about being biracial?

AL: Getting to experience different cultures. Going to big Chinese banquets and weddings as well as celebrating Christmas and holiday traditions from my mom’s side of the family. I got to enjoy both cultures and being mixed also allowed me to develop an appreciation for others who were different for all sorts of reasons.

PGN: We just started the Year of the Rabbit. Do you celebrate Chinese New Year?

AL: It’s been a while, but recently I started doing some traditional things like eating long noodles and dumplings, called jiaozi. On New Year’s Day, you’re not supposed to wash your hair because it washes away the good luck. So I make sure to do it the night before. You’re not supposed to sweep or dust either — again, to keep in the good luck of the New Year. You do clean prior to New Year’s to get rid of any residual bad luck from the previous year.

PGN: What were you like as a kid?

AL: I was a little bookish, but I was also kind of theatrical. I did a lot of dancing, jazz and ballet.

PGN: How were you as a big sister?

AL: [Laughs.] Bossy! I liked to be in control! We have a video from when Chris was young where I’m opening all his Christmas presents for him.

PGN: What was your best subject in school?

AL: It was always math and science.

PGN: And what do you do now?

AL: I help coordinate the Connect to Protect coalition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We work to prevent HIV infection in young gay men and other men having sex with men, 12- to 24-year-olds.

PGN: Is it very prevalent with youth under 15?

AL: Under 15, it’s mostly preventative work that we do, a lot of educational work. People aren’t aware what a huge epidemic it is in Philadelphia. We have rates of HIV that are four or five times the national average and a large proportion of that are youth between 17-24. We don’t focus on individual behavior; we focus on structural change. We work with other organizations like the Y-HEP, The Attic and Youth Emergency Services to find things that are upstream that we can work on that will reduce rates down the line. For instance, a youth who gets thrown out of the house due to family conflict and becomes homeless is going to be at risk for unsafe sex and contracting HIV. What can we do to create safe housing for them? That sort of thing, not just telling an individual to wear a condom. We try to work on structural changes that we can address.

PGN: Where did you go to school?

AL: My undergrad was from a little college in upstate New York called Hamilton College. It was a liberal-arts college with a strong science program, so I was a chemistry major with a French minor. I got a fellowship that allowed me to travel abroad for a year studying grassroots women’s literacy programs. I went to Haiti, Cameroon, Senegal and Vanuatu. That got me interested in the connections between social change, health and sexuality, so I went back to school and got my master’s in public health from Columbia University.

PGN: What was memorable from your time abroad?

AL: It was moving to see communities working together to improve their own well-being. I worked with a lot of groups on things like women’s health or the rights of girls to go to school. One moment that comes to mind took place in Vanuatu. There was a woman, Vesale, who took me under her wing. She taught literacy in a rural area that was about an eight-hour hike from her village and she took me with her for one of the trips. It was moving how important it was for her and really made you think, why, in this area — where there were not many books or things to read — why was it so critical? But she understood that knowledge was power. There was no running water, no electricity, all the structures were bamboo and still it was important enough for her to walk for half a day to share her knowledge of reading.

PGN: What did you learn from the experience?

AL: I learned an appreciation for humanity and the many different lives and ways that people live, but also that we’re all connected. We all live in the same world and what we do here has an effect on people across the world and vice versa. There’s a lot we can learn from other societies: how to be more considerate of each other, how to respect nature where we live, that subsistence farming is connected to Wall Street. It made me want to be involved in programs that are producing change in a larger way: to recognize that there are bigger influences that impact our individual behavior.

PGN: How did you first know you were gay?

AL: I had a huge crush on a woman. I was living at home with my parents after my year abroad and I was volunteering for the 2004 presidential campaign. She was the volunteer coordinator and I was really drawn to her. We started dating and I started crossing the important people off my list who I needed to tell. I was very fortunate that I got support from everyone, including family.

PGN: Did you have any feelings toward women before that?

AL: I think I was always curious, but I didn’t know anyone gay growing up, so it never seemed like an option. In college I thought about it, but I had an absolutely fabulous boyfriend who I was in love with, so I wasn’t looking to date anyone else.

PGN: Back to health issues, I know in the black community there’s a high rate of diabetes and obesity. What health issues affect the Asian community?

AL: Well, diabetes. Asians across the world have the highest prevalence of diabetes. Hepatitis B and liver cancer are also huge problems. There are more Asian people infected with hepatitis B than non-Asians. It affects hundreds of millions of Asians. HIV is also rising for those who get tested. Of course, though we get clumped together, it varies among different groups of Asian and Pacific Islanders.

PGN: Totally switching gears, I read your bio and it says you’re into bubble tea. What’s that?

AL: It’s a sweet tea beverage invented in Taiwan. It’s got a tea base mixed with fruit or fruit syrup and/or milk with large tapioca balls at the bottom. It’s kind of a smoothie. They shake it to mix the ingredients, creating a foam on the top. My favorite flavor is Karo, which comes out purple.

PGN: You’re into gardening; what’s your favorite thing to grow?

AL: Last year I grew cucumbers and sugar snap peas, which were delicious! Refreshingly crisp.

PGN: What’s a time period you’d like to visit?

AL: I had a lot of fantasies as a child about living in the Victorian Era, wearing the long flowy dresses.

PGN: Others are embarrassed when you …

AL: Bring Tupperware out at fancy restaurants! It drives my brother crazy.

PGN: Did you have a blanket or stuffed animal?

AL: Yes, I had “blankie.” It had a little turtle in the center and was bordered with different colors. I kept it around all through middle school, parts of high school and then it went on a shelf during my college days. It’s still at my parents’ house.

PGN: Who would you like to sit next to at a dinner party?

AL: My maternal grandpa. He passed away when I was 4. I have memories of sitting next to him down in Florida, eating popcorn and laughing and having a good time.

PGN: What’s an early memory?

AL: I have a very strong memory of my mother getting ready to go to the hospital to give birth to my brother, her and my dad prepping me to be a big sister. They got me a little T-shirt that said, “You’re going to be a big sister!” and my mom recorded lullabies for me to listen to while she was gone. I made her a pillowcase in preschool that showed her with her big baby bump in stick figures.

PGN: What was the first R-rated movie you ever saw?

AL: Was “Dirty Dancing” R? I remember sneaking to watch it at a friend’s house and we’d fast-forward to the sex scenes.

PGN: What’s HotPot!?

AL: We are a group of queer women, trans and gender-nonconforming folk who get together to decide what a queer, API [Asian-Pacific Islander] community looks like to us and think about what issues we want to take political action on. We’re not just a social group, though that aspect is important to us. Sharing good food is actually part of our mission statement!

PGN: What are some of the issues that have come up?

AL: I’m proud to say we raised $4,000 to send seven people to the first-ever daylong Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Institute. One of the things on the top of the list was immigration reform as it relates to the LGBT community. There are people who are at risk for deportation back to countries where homosexuality may be illegal or considered incitement for rape or murder. We had a get-together to hear stories about the challenges that LGBTQ immigrants face in this country. We heard personal experiences as well as stories from providers and community leaders. More than 120 people came. We had to turn folks away at the door due to capacity.

PGN: What do you say when people ask, “Why do you need your own group, aren’t we all one big gay family?”

AL: I think a lot of people wonder that. Even though there’s so much diversity within HotPot! — class, ethnicity and culture, etc. — we share similar experiences of racism, family, what home means to us. Sometimes in the larger LGBTQ communities, we can be tokenized. We are the “other.” Our group actually helps to diversify Asian for me. I enjoy learning about other people’s cultures and traditions. In addition, it is a foundation from where I can build bridges with other Asian/API communities around common concerns like immigration reform. HotPot! is a place where we can be our whole selves and that includes our ethnic identities.

PGN: Anything on the horizon?

AL: Well [on Feb. 19] we’re volunteering at ASIAC’s Lunar New Year Banquet at Hibachi. They are the fiscal sponsor for HotPot! It’s going to be great: They’ve got music, great food, a silent auction and a raffle. Tickets are still available. This spring, we’re going to have a community event focusing on the idea of home and what it means. For some people, home is a place they can never return to, geographically. For some, home is a group of people that you have chosen to be family. HotPot! is a place where I find one of my community homes and we want to share that.

For more info on HotPot!, visit hotpotphilly.org.

retro: Hotpot! article featured in Bridge Magazine

Check out the following article re-posted from the January online issue of Bridge Magazine.  Seems like we’re ready for a follow up article!

Hotpot!


By Magazine@Bridge – Posted on 17 January 2011

by Alison, Megumi, Laurent, Tay, Brooke

HotPot! is a Philadelphia area volunteer organization that works to build community for Queer Asian Pacific Islander women, trans, gender variant and gender queer/non-conforming identified folks through social gatherings, political action, and good food. In 2010, Hotpot! focused on exploring our politics around immigration issues in the United States.

In May 2010, we hosted a LGBT Queer Immigrant Rights Panel at the Asian Arts Initiative. Over 100 people attended to listen to and begin a dialogue around Queer Immigration beyond the Uniting American Families Act, which focuses on bi-national couples. We heard from lawyers, immigrants and activist leaders. Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Dream Act, the PARS agreement, and Immigration detention centers were discussed from multiple perspectives along with personal stories.

Hotpot values visibility, as a gathering of queer people of color, and we honor communities of people who have fought for representation and who made it easier for us to come together and politicize our lives. This fall, members volunteered at AsianAmericans United 25th anniversary and participated in group outings to the Asian Arts Initiative. We are indebted to our fiscal sponsor ASIAC, formerly AIDS Services In Asian Communities, who established support for gay Asian Americans in Philadelphia. We look to the legacy of Kiyoshi Kiyomura, who organized and fought for justice of all peoples. Additionally, we are encouraged and supported by the National Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA).

We strive to bring forth immigration issues in Queer spaces and queer issues into the mainstream immigration movement. In addition, we encourage our friends across community boundaries to think critically about the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We’ve achieved this through multiple venues and activities. Philadelphia is home to a large Indonesian immigrant population. A HotPot! member has translated a Know Your Rights document from English into Indonesian.

At the second annual Queer Women of Color Conference in November, members facilitated conversations around racial justice, LGBT rights, and immigration movements. In December, at our holiday party with Queer Philadelphia Asians, we hosted an informational conversation around the PARS Act and how ICE is collaborating with local police in Philadelphia. In 2011, hotpot! hopes to connect more with PICC and Philadelphia’s New Sanctuary Movement.

We are saddened and frustrated by the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act, and are working to mobilize and strengthen our communities. Hotpot! has been raising money and plans to send seven representatives to the first ever API Institute at Creating Change, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference. There we’ll take part in briefings on national issues and continue to build our personal and political connections.

To support HotPot! join us at our Creating Change Benefit on Friday, January 21st, 2010 from 7p.m.-9p.m. a Check out our new blog at hotpotphilly.org and write to us.

Alison is a member of HotPot!

Save The Date Events

Hi People,

There are several exciting SAVE THE DATE events HotPot! is currently planning or supporting, thanks Tay and K for the details below. Make sure to mark them on your calendar!

1. Trans Health Conference 
2. Dyke March, June 11
3. Philly Pride Parade 2011 on Sunday, June 12th
4. Summer retreat September 17-18
 —————————————————————————–
1. TRANS HEALTH CONFERENCE

Two members of HotPot! will have a workshop about being Trans and API. Come and support the conference,  and  make sure not to miss the workshop! Save the Date: June 2nd-4th. Free at the Convention Center. Register here.

2.  THE DYKE MARCH

What we know: Kahn Park 11th and Pine Sat. June 11, 3-6 pm
Rally at 3pm, March step-off at 4pm
After the march – chill in park and see performers
Afterparty – June Arouse 19th and Market Sts.

Bring/tell your friends, families, and allies! Power is in numbers and this is a protest! Tell people to tell people!
(More info at facebook – “Philly DykeMarch”)

More info to come in the next weeks – save the date emails, check in with who’s coming, possible themes to identify us as hotpot!, signs. Let us know if you know or think you’ll be coming please.

3. PHILLY PRIDE

QPA (Queer Philadelphia Asians) and hotpot are now planning our joint contingent for 2011 Philly Pride on Sunday, June 12th!

The Pride Parade kicks off at 13th and Locust at noon.  The gates open at the Penn’s Landing Festival site at noon as well. The Parade winds its way through the Gayborhood with performance spots at 13th and Locust, 12th and Locust, 11th and Locust, Independence Mall, Front and Market. We will give more details about a time and place to meet but it would be great if you could commit to marching with us!

Come support our message about immigration, equality and queer API visibility!In honor of Gay Pride Day The Ben Franklin Bridge will be dressed in rainbow color lights Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12.  It will be an invigorating weekend so come show your colors and march with us!If you think you’ll be able to join us please let us know but also stay tuned for more info to come!

4. SUMMER RETREAT

We have been planning for a SUMMER RETREAT to discuss values and mission for the 3rd weekend in September (Sept 17 and 18). I’d like to tell you some details of what I found so that anyone who wants can chime in. I found 2 places in the Pine Barrens which are part of NJ State Parks and Forests.

Details of place #1 – The first place is a group cabin with 8 beds. (I think could probably have more people if they are willing to sleep together or in sleeping bags, etc.) $85 per nite with minimum of 2 nites. Wharton State Forest 744 Route 206 Shamong NJ 08088. Allowed up to 2 dogs. Possibility to rent canoes on Atison Lake. Approx 60 to 90 minutes from 4000 Chestnut St Phila. The cabins are “furnished” with living room furniture.  I think we have to bring our own kitchen supplies. No alcohol permitted on State Forest land. www.njparksandforests.org

Details of place #2 – Group cabin to sleep 28-30 people. $155 per nite with minimum of 2 nites. Belleplain State Forest County Route 550 PO 450 Woodbine NJ 08270.  Allowed up to 2 dogs. No immediate access to body of water. Approx 20 min drive to Sea Isle City beaches. Approx 90 to 180 minutes from 4000 Chestnut St Phila. Cabins “furnished.” I think we have to bring our own kitchen supplies. No alcohol permitted on State Forest land. www.njparksandforests.org

Reservations need to be made something like months in advance, so if anyone who wants to can take a look or form an opinion this week and get back to us by Sunday May 8.