A quarter century ago a small group of queer and transgender Asian women's organizations came together and created the annual API Lunar New Year Banquet to network with each other. The banquet eventually evolved into what is now APIQWTC, an all-volunteer umbrella organization that produces political and social events and supports queer Asian women's and transgender activism. APIQWTC provides the space for an estimated 1,000 queer women and transgender individuals of Asian descent to gather and celebrate who they are, said co-founding members Crystal Jang and Koko Lin.
Oftentimes, even today, many queer women and transgender Asians live in the closet in fear of losing their family and community, the women said about APIQWTC and its importance. Celebrating means honoring the women who have given to the community and supporting rising stars. APIQWTC organizers have given out the Phoenix Award since 2002 and scholarships since the beginning, except when lack of funds halted the program for a while. Organizers reinstated the scholarship program six years ago, Jang and Lin said.
This year, Vuong Nguyen, founder and organizer of "Song That Radio," an LGBT Vietnamese American weekly radio program that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, is being honored with the Phoenix Award.