Huff Post: Intimate Look at Queer Life in Japan

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Video Story: Coming Out to My Asian Parents

Visibility Project: Asian Pride

Video List: Famous Asian American LGBTQ People

GLSEN: LGBTQ Asians Who Have Made an Impact

United Nations: Being LGBTQ in Asia

HRC: Being Asian Pacific Islander and LGBTQ

Video: Queer Asians Coming Out to Immigrant Parents

Out China: YouTube Channel

Coming Out as LGBTQ and Asian-

Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) come from dozens of different countries, making that population one of the most diverse communities in America. Because of the diverse cultural backgrounds, histories, and languages of APAs, there is no universal coming out experience for all LGBTQ APAs, but LGBTQ APAs still share some similar challenges and experiences during the coming out process.


Family - Coming out to family is an enormous challenge. Many fear rejection, disappointing their parents or being seen as sullying the family name. The subject of LGBTQ issues is often treated with silence, which can feel like rejection. Not unusual for a LGBTQ APAs to be out in every aspect of life, except to family. When parents are aware of a child's sexual orientation or gender identity, that information is often hidden from family friends.


Hundreds of LGBTQ Couples Get Married in Taiwan

GLAAD: Honoring LGBTQ Asian Americans

Chinese Ad Features Gay Couple

Video: Talk with Chinese Gay Couple

Hong Kong Court Rules in Favor of Gay Couple

GLAAD: LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islander Resource Kit

CNN: The Problem with Being Gay in South Korea

Letter to Queer Asian Americans

Video List: Famous Asian American LGBTQ People

NASPA: Challenges for LGBTQ Asian American Students

Thailand's First Trans Woman to Run for Prime Minister

Being Gay in Deeply Conservative China

List: LGBTQ Americans of Asian Decent

LGBTQ Millennials: Acceptance and Tolerance in Singapore

Same Sex Asian Couple: Wedding Party


Religion - There are traditional connections among family, culture, and religion within the community. The interconnectedness of culture and religion means that any homophobia related to faith can have a devastating effect. Experiences with religion vary greatly depending on the religion practiced by a particular family, individual, or region. Some religions such as Hinduism are fairly accepting, while other like Catholicism and Islam can be less accepting.

Society - Coming out experiences are often intensified by a lack of visibility, racism, and language barriers. There is still a lack of visibility of APAs within LGBTQ groups, publications, and media sources. There is a lack of positive images of LGBTQ APAs in popular entertainment and media. APAs can face racism within the LGBTQ community, sometimes as overt discrimination and other times as the lack representation.

[Source: Coming Out for Asian Pacific Americans, printed by the Human Rights Campaign]



Asian-American LGBTQ Celebrities


Jake Choi (Korean) - Actor, Athlete

BD Wong (Chinese) - Actor

Margaret Cho (Korean) - Comedian

George Takei (Japanese) - Actor

Hayley Kiyoko (Japanese) - Musician

Bowen Yang (Chinese) - Comedian, SNL Cast Member

Mark Takano (Japanese) - Politician

Kim Coco (Japanese) - Activist

Helen Zia (Chinese) - Journalist, Advocate

Dan Choi (Korean) - Soldier, Advocate


LGBTQ Asian Film


Best Asian Gay Movies of All Time

Top Asian Lesbian Movies

Korean Lesbian Movies and Series

Greatest Asian Lesbian Movies You Must See



Challenges of LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islanders


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Asian Pacific Islanders (API) are minorities within a minority. Although the media are covering the lives, stories and issues of LGBTQ people more frequently, and often in a more fair, accurate and balanced manner, repeatedly API LGBTQ voices, perspectives and opinions are left out of the picture. Within the "mainstream" LGBTQ community, Asian Pacific Islanders can feel invisible since images in LGBTQ publications are primarily white. Furthermore when APIs are represented, they are presented stereotypical, exoticized or as the "china doll", which reinforces stereotypes of APIs being silent, demure and sexual objects


Hong Kong: First Asian City to Host Gay Games

Adorable Chinese Lesbian Wedding

Les Love: Chinese Lesbian Film

Famous Asian Transgender People

Video Talk: Being a Chinese Lesbian

Edgar and James: Gay Philippine Wedding

Lesbian Couple: Galliyan Music Video

API LGBTQ Community in San Francisco

Taiwan Considering Third Gender Option for IDs

Same Love: LGBTQ Relationships in the Philippines

Wikipedia: LGBTQ Americans of Asian Decent

Video List: Famous Asian American LGBTQ People

HRC: Religion and Coming Out Issues for Asian Pacific Americans

Video: Coming Out to Immigrant Parents



Acceptance of LGBTQ Asian Americans


Gay Asian Americans tend to be rated as more American than their presumably straight counterparts, according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“Research on race is often separate from research on sexual orientation. Here we bring the two together to understand how they interact to influence judgments of how American someone is considered,” said study author Sapna Cheryan, a University of Washington associate professor of psychology.

In two studies of 1,336 individuals recruited from a university campus, participants were randomly assigned to read a description of a person, who was described either as either a man, a woman, a white person, or an Asian American person. The person’s sexual orientation was noted as “gay” or wasn’t listed.

The participants were then asked to rate the person’s American identity with several questions like: “How American is this person?”, “How fluently do you think this person speaks English?”, and “How integrated is this person in American culture?”


The researchers found that Asian Americans who were identified as gay were perceived to be more American than Asian Americans whose sexual orientation was not identified. There was no significant difference observed between Asian American and non-Asian American participants.

“One possible extension of this work is that gay Asian Americans may be less likely to have their American identities questioned than straight Asian Americans,” Cheryan said. “At the same time, being gay puts people more at risk for other forms of prejudice based on sexual orientation.”

In a third study of 75 university students, the researchers found that gay people were perceived as more accepted in American than Asian culture. A fourth study of 101 students found that gay people were viewed as more American when their country of origin was perceived as less accepting of gay people than the United States.

“American culture is perceived as more accepting of gay people compared to Asian culture. As a result, gay Asian Americans are perceived as more likely to be American than their straight counterparts,” the researchers explained in their study.

The study (like all research) includes some caveats. The generalizability of findings could limited because the sample was predominantly college students. Future research could address whether the findings extend to other ethnic groups as well.

“For example, countries in the Middle East and North Africa tend to have anti-LGBTQ laws, and gay people associated with these cultures may be assumed to be more American than their straight counterparts,” the researchers noted.

[Source: Gay Asian Americans Are Seen as More American Than Asian Americans Who Are Presumed Straight by Mika Semrow, Linda X. Zou, Shuyang Liu, and Sapna Cheryan]


Real Americans: Gay Asian Americans

Video Talk: Being a Chinese Lesbian

Williams Institute Report: Demographics of LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islanders

LGBTQ Millennials: Acceptance and Tolerance in Singapore

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Beautiful Vietnamese Lesbian Wedding

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HRC: Society and Coming Out Issues for Asian Pacific Americans

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Bank and Kim: Gay Thai Wedding

Living in the Margins: National Survey of LGBTQ Asian Americans

Video: Talk with Chinese Lesbian Couple

China's Thriving Drag Queen Culture

Thailand Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony


Demographics of LGBTQ Asian Pacific Americans


According to the Williams Institute, at the UCLA School of Law, there is an estimated 324,600 LGBTQ API adults in the US.  There are 32,931 API individuals in same-sex couples in the US. 25% of API same-sex couples are raising children. LGBTQ API adults tend to live in areas where there are higher proportions of API individuals, as opposed to areas with higher proportions of the broader LGBTQ population.



LGBTQ Rights in Japan


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons in Japan may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBTQ persons. Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1880 after the installation of the Napoleonic Code and the age of consent is currently equalized. Same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are ineligible for the legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. Japanese culture and major religions originated in and imported to Japan do not have a history of hostility towards homosexuality, and a majority of Japanese citizens are reportedly in favor of accepting homosexuality, with a recent poll indicating that 54 percent agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society while 36 percent disagreed, with a large age gap. Although many political parties have not openly supported or opposed LGBTQ rights, there are several openly LGBTQ politicians joined in office. A law allowing transgender individuals to change their legal gender post-sex reassignment surgery was passed in 2002. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned in certain cities.


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Japan's Tolerance of LGBTQ People Has Grown

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Japanese Govt Official Criticizes LGBTQ Community

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Japanese Wedding Ceremony



Marriage Equality in Taiwan


On May 24, 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, sparking celebration by activists who have been campaigning for the right for years. The court, known as the Judicial Yuan, said current marriage laws were “in violation of both the people’s freedom of marriage and the people’s right to equality”, and it gave two years for legal amendments to allow same-sex marriage.  “If relevant laws are not amended or enacted within the said two years, two persons of the same sex who intend to create the said permanent union shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated,” the court said.

Hundreds of supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the street next to the island’s parliament to celebrate the decision, holding colorful umbrellas to ward off a drizzle. “This ruling has made me very happy,” said Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned the court to take up the issue.  The ruling clearing the way for same-sex marriage is the first in Asia, where socially conservative attitudes largely hold sway.


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Williams Institute Report: Demographics of LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islanders

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Les Love: Chinese Lesbian Film

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Hong Kong Court Rules in Favor of Gay Couple

LGBTQ Millennials: Acceptance and Tolerance in Singapore



LGBTQ Culture in China


LGBTQ identities and communities have expanded in Mainland China since the 1980s as a result of resurfacing dialogue about and engagement with queer identities in the public domain. Since the 1990s, the preferred term for people of diverse sexuality, sex and gender is tongzhi. While lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture remains largely underground, there are a plethora of gay cruising zones and often unadvertised gay bars, restaurants and discos spread across the country. The recent and escalating proliferation of gay identity in Mainland China is most significantly signaled by its recognition in mainstream media despite China's media censorship. There are also many gay websites and LGBTQ organizations which help organize gay rights' campaigns, AIDS prevention efforts, film festivals and pride parades.  Public sentiment on homosexuality in China is in limbo. While it is not outright condemned, neither is it fully accepted as being part of the social norm.


The influence of Western gay and lesbian culture on China's culture is complex. While Western ideas and conceptions of gayness have begun to permeate the Chinese gay and lesbian identity, some Chinese gay and lesbian activists have pushed back against the mainstream politics of asserting one's own identity and pushing for social change due to its disruption of family ties and social harmony.  Most of the exposure to Western gay and lesbian culture is through the internet or the media, but this exposure is limited—mainstream symbols of gay and lesbian culture (such as the rainbow flag) are not widely recognizable in China.

In 2009 a male couple held a symbolic wedding in public, and China Daily took the photo of the two men in a passionate embrace across its pages. Other symbolic gay and lesbian weddings have been held across the country and have been covered positively by the Chinese media.

In 2012, Luo Hongling, a university professor, committed suicide because she knew her husband was a gay man. She alleged their marriage was just a lie since the man could not admit he was gay to his parents. Luo was considered a "homowife," local slang for a woman married to a homosexual male, akin to the English term "beard".

In 2016, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television banned images of homosexuals on television.


Adult, consensual and non-commercial homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, when the national penal code was revised. Homosexuality was removed from the Ministry of Health's list of mental illnesses in 2001 and the public health campaign against HIV/AIDS pandemic does include education for men who have sex with men. Officially, overt police enforcement against gay people is restricted to gay people engaging in sex acts in public or prostitution, which are also illegal for heterosexuals.

However, despite these changes, no civil rights law exists to address discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Households headed by same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt children and do not have the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.

Research conducted by The Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality in 2014 showed that nearly 85 percent of the 921 respondents supported same-sex marriage, while about 2 percent of them oppose the idea, and 13 percent of them said "not sure."

On January 5, 2016, a court in Changsha, southern Hunan province, agreed to hear the lawsuit of 26-year-old Sun Wenlin filed in December 2015 against the Furong district civil affairs bureau for its June 2015 refusal of the right to register to marry his 36-year-old male partner, Hu Mingliang. On April 13, 2016, with hundreds of gay marriage supporters outside, the Changsha court ruled against Sun, who vowed to appeal, citing the importance of his case for LGBTQ progress in China. On May 17, 2016, Sun and Hu were married in a private ceremony in Changsha, expressing their intention to organize another 99 LGBTQ weddings across the country in order to normalize gay marriage in China.


Tong Xing

Homosexual/Same Sex

Ji Lao

Gay Guy

La La

Lesbian Woman



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Taiwan Becomes First Asian Country to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

Is It Okay to Come Out in Japan?

Being Gay in Deeply Conservative China

Is Vietnam LGBTQ Friendly or Not?

Japanese Govt Official Criticizes LGBTQ Community

LGBTQ Rights in China

Are LGBTQ People Accepted in Japan?

Video Introduction to LGBTQ China

LGBTQ Rights in Vietnam

Majority of Singaporeans Support Ban on Gay Sex

Thailand Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony

The Problem with Being Gay in South Korea

Vietnam's LGBTQ Movement in Full Bloom

How Gay Friendly is South Korea?

Is It Okay to Be Gay in China?

LGBTQ Rights in South Korea

Beautiful Vietnamese Lesbian Wedding

China's Thriving Drag Queen Culture

Out China: YouTube Channel


Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues


The relationship between Buddhism and sexual orientation varies by tradition and teacher. According to some scholars, early Buddhism appears to have placed no special stigma on homosexual relations, since the subject was not mentioned.


One of the differences between Buddhism and other religions is how little emphasis it places on sexuality as a moral issue. While other religions place rules about sexual behavior, marriage, and sexual orientation at the center of their ethical universe, Buddhism pretty much limits its comment to the admonition not to harm others through sexuality. (That’s for lay practitioners, of course. Obviously, there are strict rules for celibate monastics.) The result is that Buddhist attitudes toward LGBTQ people are more a reflection of cultural attitudes than Buddhist philosophy per se.



While traditional Buddhist societies are more conservative, the Buddhist community in the West is generally socially liberal and very welcoming to LGBTQ members. There are prominent gay and lesbian teachers, and most major communities host events, meditations, and retreats specifically for LGBTQ practitioners.

Based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, Buddhism is considered a way of life for more than 500 million individuals across the globe. The fourth largest religion in the world, Buddhism is largely built on concepts that foster individual enlightenment and encourage personal responsibility. It is sometimes described more as a philosophy or psychology than a religion.

Sexual orientation, specifically, was not elaborated upon by Siddhartha Gautama, nor is there any reference or guidance for lay people regarding sexual orientation or same-sex behavior within the Pali Canon, the scriptural texts that hold the Buddha’s original teachings. The Vinyana, a Buddhist text for monks, forbids Buddhist monks and nuns from having sexual relationships with men, women and those of other genders, such as pandanka (interpreted as those with indeterminate sexual characteristics or people who do not conform to sexual norms, such as prostitutes). These textual references do not target LGBTQ people specifically, as everyone within the monastic order is expected to refrain from all forms of sexual relations. This practice is especially common within Theravada Buddhism, which focuses heavily on the monastic tradition.


Zen Buddhism does not make a distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Instead, the expectation is not to harm, exploit or manipulate others, which would directly violate the third precept. For instance, Zen Buddhists often refer to hedonism, ascetic masochism and prostitutions as practices that violate the “Middle Way.”

Regarding Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama’s perspectives are complex and evolving. On the positive side, he has publicly condemned violence against LGBTQ people and has been reported to have said, “If the two people have taken no vows [of chastity] and neither is harmed why should it not be acceptable." Yet in a 1997 press conference he commented that “from a Buddhist point of view [lesbian and gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.” Messages from the Dalai Lama have been mixed and somewhat influx. During a meeting with representatives of the LGBTQ community, the Dalai Lama reportedly showed interest in how modern scientific research might create new understanding of the Buddhist texts, acknowledging a “willingness to consider the possibility that some of the teachings may be specific to a particular cultural and historic context."

Overall, it is difficult to qualify Buddhism’s perspective on same-sex marriage, since perspectives vary greatly within the religion. Because of Buddhism’s core theme to attain enlightenment, the path one chooses to take within the religion is largely personal, as is one’s beliefs. Hence, most Buddhist literature indicates that opposition to or support for marriage rights for same-sex couples is a personal, rather than religious, statement.


HRC: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

LGBTQ Buddhists: Teachings, Profiles, Conversations

Buddhism and Sexual Orientation

Buddha Weekly: Views on LGBTQ

Gay Marriage: What Would Buddha Do?

Bhante Dhammika: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Religious Facts: Buddhism on Homosexuality




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