THE BLOG
02/10/2014 05:50 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Remembering Alain Dang

Our movement for LGBT equality has lost a fierce and dedicated advocate. Alain Dang, a former Policy Analyst at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and a fierce leader in the Asian and Pacific-Islander (API) community, has passed away at age 37.

After earning his master's degree in urban planning from UCLA, Alain joined the team at National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute as a policy analyst from 2003 to 2007. His commitment to equality and social justice contributed to the production of historic and groundbreaking research and policy analysis.

Alain and Vaid Fellow Somjen Frazer co-authored a historic report, "Black same-sex households in the United States: A report from the 2000 Census." This was the first-ever analysis of U.S. Census data on black same-sex couple families. Released in October 2004, the study quantitatively demonstrated how anti-LGBT policies disproportionately affect black people in same-sex relationships and their children. In addition to this national report, Alain co-authored fact sheets that described these couples in cities with large black populations across the U.S., including Chicago, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta Houston, and many others.

This study was critical to countering anti-LGBT organizations, which used anti-gay sentiment in the black church to divide traditionally progressive populations and support anti-marriage-equality state constitutional amendments across the country. Because of Alain's work, activists and political leaders could show that same-sex marriage, nondiscrimination, and family protections for LGBT people were not "white" issues that harmed the civil rights of people of color. They are in fact extremely important to the health and well-being of black people and their families across the country.

In addition to advocating for LGBT equality, Alain was a leading advocate for the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) LGBT community. In 2004, with Vaid Fellow Mandy Hu, he co-authored a report based on a pilot study of API LGBT people that assessed their experience of discrimination in general and within LGBT communities. Based on those preliminary data, he developed and led a historic, nationwide study.

"Living in the margins: A national survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans," released in May 2007, was based on a survey of nearly 900 LGBT API people across the country. The survey and the executive summary of the report were available in not only English but Chinese, Hindi, Korean, and Vietnamese -- just one example of Alain's commitment to inclusion. Alain also authored fact sheets based on the report, in Chinese and English, for states with large API populations, including California, Washington, and New York.

Co-authored with Vaid Fellow Cabrini Vianney, "Living in the margins" revealed alarmingly high rates of discrimination and harassment based on race/ethnicity and sexual orientation. Among the key findings: Despite the fact that less than half of respondents spoke English as their native language, the overwhelming majority of information, advocacy, and support materials produced for LGBT people is only produced in English. Alain's advocacy on behalf of the LGBT API community quantitatively demonstrated the need for all LGBT support and advocacy organizations to ensure that they are welcoming and accessible to the growing API population in the U.S.

In addition to the research and analysis he led at the Task Force, Alain's expertise influenced the work of the Policy Institute during the most prolific time in its history, and he was a respected friend and colleague to Task Force staff around the country. He inspired and influenced the lives of dozens of Vaid Fellows, who have since gone one to become leaders in their fields around the world. He shared his work and commitment to social justice at conferences across the country, including through the many workshops he led and participated in at Creating Change conferences.

We join together in our collective movements for equality and social justice to mourn the loss of Alain, and to carry forward his historic contributions.

Thank you, Alain Dang, for your incredible contributions to our movement for equality and social justice. I am so very grateful for the four years we worked together.