Asian, Gay and Proud is extremely excited to have Ben de Guzman, a Washington D.C. based community leader in advocacy for recognition of the participation and rights of Asian and LGBTQ Americans. He is Co-director for Programs at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and National Coordinator for the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE).
Who? name, age, what you identify as (or not)
Ben de Guzman, 38 years old, openly gay Filipino American son of immigrants.
What? what do you do for a living or things you would like to do.
I am a non-profit consultant who has been fortunate enough to be involved in some great projects. As the Co-Director for Programs at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), I’ve been able to be part of an emerging movement of LGBT Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders. Working with the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE), I helped coordinate the legislative campaign that successfully won military recognition and payment for Filipino WWII veterans.
When did you come out? Any stories?
I came out to a college friend during a summer abroad program in the Philippines. I had no idea at the time how critical that summer would be in building my world view as a Filipino American and as a gay man.
How did coming out impact your career or relationships with others?
When I came out to my friend, I distinctly remember feeling that while I was glad to have his support, I also had misgivings because despite the historic breakthrough I had made, my life didn’t feel quantitatively different. As I began to tell more friends and family though, I soon learned two things: 1) Their love for me did not change and if anything reaffirmed our closeness; and 2) Living in your truth is an act of personal, professional and political liberation. Not having to worry about whether I would be judged by family, friends or colleagues gave me both the freedom to do the work I needed to do, it also gave me a profound sense of equality that drove what that work needed to be.
Advice you can give to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers.
For those of us who are both gay and Asian, we have an opportunity and an obligation to do two things- to make sure that our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are welcoming and inclusive of our LGBT brothers and sisters and that our LGBT communities embrace a vision of social justice that fights racism and xenophobia as much as it fights homophobia.