Today, I celebrate National Coming Out Day as the first openly gay Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA). As a nation, we have come a long way in advancing rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people and creating safe spaces for any individual to fully express who they are and share who they love with family, friends and in the workplace. I am also proud that APALA has been a vehicle in which I have been able to talk about the intersections of identity, economic justice, immigration and LGBT rights.
Labor and the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made huge strides in not only uplifting LGBT individuals and rights but also integrating LGBT perspectives in the work that's being done. This past August, I witnessed a significant and historical resolution on transgender rights passed by the delegates at APALA's 12th Biennial Convention. From seasoned veterans to young workers and leaders, APALA has been engaging a dialogue on the importance of creating awareness around the impact of issues in our communities, building more safe spaces for LGBT people and fostering even more allies in our quest for justice. APALA also reaffirmed our support for the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and ensured our immigration campaign principles were inclusive of the LGBT community.
As part of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), APALA partners closely with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) on a host of issues from immigration to voting rights and we also partner with Pride at Work, our sister constituency group and an organization of LGBT labor and allies.
National Coming Out Day is not about closet shaming. For me, it is a celebration of identities and recommitting ourselves to continue organizing our communities. As part of this celebration, I am proud to join GetEQUAL in their #out4equality campaign, where they are looking for LGBT people and allies to show a commitment to full equality for all.
We cannot silo one person into their sexual orientation or gender identity. And we must remember why today was created in the first place. It was founded to raise awareness of the LGBT community and the civil rights movement. October 11th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights. The larger dialogue that needs to happen is how we can continue fighting and working towards civil rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, immigrant status and ANY self or perceived identity.
While we have made tremendous progress, we have much more work to do. As I like to tell folks, I "Can't Stop! Won't Stop!" fighting. Will you join me?
Cendana is the first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO, and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement. He is a proud member of the National Writer's Union, UAW Local 1981. Cendana was named one of Washington, D.C.'s most influential 40-and-under young leaders, one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 & awarded the Next Generation Award from Metro Weekly, which recognizes the accomplishments of LGBT activists & artists under the age of 30. Previously, he served as the first openly gay Asian American president of the United States Student Association.