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    LGBTQ Solidarity Against Anti-Asian Violence

    By Andrea Shorter–

    The LGBTQ community should be at the forefront to stand with our Asian/American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters against the anti-Asian violence and hate crimes on the rise locally and around the nation. If there is any community of people who should understand how prejudice, blame, hate, and violence can be visited upon its people during a serious public health crisis, it’s ours.

    There are too many of us whose own coming out stories are integrated with firsthand accounts as victims, witnesses, supporters, caregivers, or mourners of victims of violence and hate crimes against us on our neighborhood streets, on public transit, in our workplaces, or even in our own homes throughout the HIV/AIDS crisis stemming back to the 1980s.

    Violence and assault against same gender loving and gender expansive people obviously existed well before the start of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The watershed events of Stonewall became the anthemic protest and resistance against sanctioned anti-LGBTQ violence. At the onset of that epidemic being initially primarily associated with men who have sex with men, there were quarters of personal, public, and political reaction to the emerging fatal plight that were as vile, vindictive, and violent as is happening now to AAPI identified persons.

    In the 1980s, the largely silent treatment from the Reagan White House on the emerging crisis portrayed as only affecting and being transmitted by deemed undesirable populations of gays, Blacks, and Latinx people was deafening. Silence=Death was the urgent rallying cry and banner under which I was compelled to come out while an undergrad in the Reagan eighties.

    This time, however, the xenophobia, white nationalism, and bellicose Asian blaming for the cause of this pandemic from the most powerful bully pulpit on Earth held by the former president was loud and clear. It centered on neglect and shifting responsibility away from his own spectacular failure to lead a serious response to a life-threatening public health crisis to the Chinese, and, by proxy, anyone within our own borders who is Asian.

    This shameless, nonsensical, yet wildly purposeful self-serving blame-game gives license and sanction to a readied audience of half-cocked grievance-filled followers, who, as we well know, only need half a reason to unleash violence and mayhem onto another racial or ethnic defined group categorically deemed unwelcome, undesirable, and unworthy by their dear leader.

    In the aftermath of vicious assaults on Asian elders on the streets of San Francisco, Oakland, Orange County, and beyond to the gunned down deaths of six women of Asian descent who worked in a series of massage and spa establishments in Atlanta, Georgia, government response to this crisis has so far involved Congressional hearings, as well as a visit with community leaders in Atlanta by our first Black and Asian-American Vice President, Kamala Harris.

    In addition to statements urging solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community at large by national organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, coalitions are forming to support and follow the leadership of AAPI-led organizations like Stop AAPI Hate, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and the Asian American Feminist Collective. Locally, organizations including the Asian American Law Caucus and the Edwin Lee Democratic Club are also working across communities to educate, raise awareness, and respond to the violence.

    Concerned citizens, co-workers, and neighbors are asking, “What else can I do to be helpful?” beyond phoning 911 whenever witnessing assaults. My longtime sister Commissioner, Julie Soo, recommended checking out iHollaback’s “Bystander Intervention to Stop anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment” training. ( )

    The preamble to the training mentions, in part, “Unfortunately, anti-Asian and Asian American racism and xenophobia is not a new phenomenon. It has been part of American history for a long time, and we have seen it manifested against different Asian/American and Pacific Islander communities in many ways over the years.”

    It adds, “As the coronavirus pandemic escalates, we have seen more harassment, discrimination, and even violence directed at these communities. The Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation has been documenting hate crimes and hate incidents since 2017 at StandAgainst Hatred ( ), which is available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.”

    It should go without saying that no matter our histories, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, we should all stand together against this new wave of anti-Asian/American violence simply because it is wrong. At times, however, we need to be reminded of our histories fighting horrific injustices visited upon us because of our race, gender, place of origin, or sexual orientation, as well as our histories of standing together—not alone—to pushback, resist, and non-violently advance towards a more just and inclusive democratic society. This is one of those times.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights and marriage equality. A Co-Founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    Published on March 25, 2021