The Asian American Student Union and the Pride Student Union joined forces Wednesday evening in Ustler Hall to share the experiences people with dual-minority identity face.
"It's really hard to bridge the gap between being queer and API (Asian and Pacific Islander), especially because API parents bring up their children with such strict gender binaries," said Andy Sun, a 19-year-old economics sophomore.
Sun, along with three other panelists, participated in "LGBT Stories: Queer in Asian America," which was part of the 18th annual Asian Kaleidoscope Month.
"LGBTQ issues are not talked about very much in Asian American culture," said Anthony Nguyen, 21, executive director of Asian Kaleidoscope Month. "It's a tough topic to bring up in the community."
The month showcases 24 events with different topics catered to this year's theme "Defining Your Story."
Keynote speaker Pauline Park, chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, said defining the LGBTQ communities requires recognizing diversity.
"The point is not to bring together people who share a common identity but who share a common oppression," said Park, 51.
Park said she sees progress, but the progress is "frustratingly slow."
"It's about visibility," she said. "We need more APIs coming out."
Although each panelist's relationship with his or her family was different, the theme of silence and family expectation was a prominent one for all four of them.
"Being first generation here, there was a lot of pressure to make sure the family name stays respectable," said Natalie Nguyen, LGBT program assistant at the University of North Florida.
Panelist Ernie Selorio Jr., founder of a sexual minority youth network in Jacksonville, said families become stigmatized and sexual expression becomes a reflection on the family, especially with strong cultural and religious ties.
Sun said he has to maintain a certain standard around his family, not cutting his hair too short and not discussing his sex life.
However, self-acceptance is the most important thing, Sun said in an interview after the panel.
"Then you can be confident in how others perceive you," he said, "but you have to develop that strength within yourself first."