Growing up I searched for representations of people like me in my life and found none. During my senior year in high-school I just kept thinking about how exciting it would be to go to college and find a community of queer people of color. Finally, I would find people who would understand the intersections of my ethnicity and sexuality. People who might understand the pressures I underwent as I came of age…the expectations of me from my immigrant Filipino parents, my Filipino community, combined with the expectations of mainstream American society.
It was my freshmen year of college and I eagerly attended a few of the LGBT club’s meetings. Though the members of the LGBT club were friendly I couldn’t help but feel completely out of place. All of the members were white. I couldn’t believe it, my college had promoted itself as full of diversity! If they were so diverse then why was I the only non-white person in attendance?? Disappointed, I couldn’t bring myself to go to any more meetings. I felt that in order to belong to this club, I would have to relinquish my Filipino identity, and I had no intentions of doing that.
I then found that there was a Filipino association and attended a few of their meetings. They were also welcoming and friendly, but I got the feeling that my sexuality was not going to be openly accepted. It reminded me a lot of my Filipino community back home. This time, in order to belong I’d have to go back in the closet. Yeah, right! I stopped attending the Filipino association meetings too.
At that point, I had decided that the community I had hoped to find simply didn’t exist. At least, not anywhere near me. So, when I heard about hotpot! this past spring I was completely surprised. Being part of hotpot! means so much to me I’m not sure I can put it all into words. It’s an incredible joy to find a community where I feel like I belong. I’ve found a space where my different experiences and identities are cherished as part of me as a whole, rather than made invisible or undesirable. It’s been amazing, fulfilling ..and so much more. I ❤ hotpot!