Gregory is currently the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO and APALA Education Fund. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and as Secretary for the Labor Coalition for Community Action. Prior, Gregory was President of the United States Student Association (USSA), where he increased the budget of the organization, established strong community partnerships & played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act.
Furthermore, he comes with a wealth of experience having served or currently serving on the boards of the Pac+, National Jobs with Justice, Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, the Generational Alliance & the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. In 2009, he started Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Consulting, a firm dedicated to training, peer coaching & organizational development.
Gregory was awarded the Next Generation Award from Metro Weekly, which recognizes the accomplishments of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) activists, artists & leaders under the age of 30. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum named him Ally of the Year in 2011 and Pride at Work recognized him with a Celebrating Solidarity Award for his efforts to organize at the intersections of many communities and issues.
He is a graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, the Management Center’s Managing to Change the World, the Midwest Academy’s Organizing for Social Change, Training for Change’s Training of Trainers & Wellstone Action’s Political Training Program. You can find him dancing with SOULcial Justice, a dance team he formed of DC’s movers & shakers, or on twitter at @gregorycendana.
Who? name, age, what you identify as (or not)
Gregory Allan Datu Cendana, 25, I identify as an openly gay/queer, Filipino/Asian American, male trade unionist who comes from an immigrant household. I’m also a dancer who loves politics, social media & living life at the intersections. Be a part of my journey by following me on twitter at @GregoryCendana.
What? what do you do for a living or things you would like to do
I’m very proud of what I get to wake up and do each day–work to create a more socially just and inclusive society for all people–including the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and LGBTQ community.
I currently serve as the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the first and only organization of AAPI union members and allies and one of the constituency groups of the AFL-CIO. I am the first openly gay & youngest person to ever serve in this post.
Prior, I was President of the United States Student Association, the country’s oldest, largest & most inclusive student organization and was the first openly gay Asian American elected.
In 2009, I founded Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Consulting, a firm dedicated to training, peer coaching & organizational development with a focus on organizations and leaders serving youth of color and LGBTQ youth. Special shout out to my business partner, friend and sister in struggle, Carmen Berkley, for being an integral part of my life!
When did you come out? Any stories?
My personal experience has led me to believe that life is constant process of coming out. However, a milestone moment for me was when I came out to my parents, John & Maria. I came out to them in the fall of 2008 after I attended a Rockwood Leadership Institute. The training helped me articulate an important reason why I am motivated to the work that I do—to ensure less LGBTQ youth have to live with the discrimination and bullying that I faced growing up. An important step to my own liberation was sharing this important aspect of identity. After coming out, I felt a great weight was lifted off my shoulders. My parents and sister, Jessica, have been and even after coming out, continue to be, guiding lights in my life. They support me through thick and thin and keep me grounded.
How did coming out impact your career or relationships with others?
It was in fact my career and the work I was doing that pushed me to come out. There were so many things I accomplished and were proud about but did not share because a worry that my parents would find out.
Coming out has not necessarily impacted my relationships with others but has allowed people to criticize me for uplifting my gay identity. To them I say, I do not have the luxury or option of choosing which identity hat I wear and when—whether it is my Asian, Gay, labor, youth, or other hat. Everywhere I go, I go with all of me. Audre Lorde said it best, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
Advice you can give to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the openly LGBTQ members of the AAPI community. Thank you for helping pave the way for many of us to feel comfortable in our own skin, taking bold steps forward by coming out and being examples of courage.
For those not out, know, when you are ready, there is a community of people who have your back and will support you in any way. It’s important for us as a collective to create safe and nurturing spaces that encourage more people to come out. In our fight for LGBTQ equality, this is an important step towards humanizing the issue and letting people know there are many LGBTQ people in their lives.