QAPA is committed to providing a supportive social, political, and educational environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and questioning people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in the Boston and New England area.
On one summer day back in 1979, something extraordinary happened at Glad Day Bookshop, on Boylston Street near Copley Square. Siong-Huat Chua, a native of Malacca, Malaysia, met with two lesbians and another gay man to found the Boston Asian Gay Men and Lesbians (BAGMAL), the first co-gender lesbian and gay Asian group in history. In 1988, in response to the growing popularity of the organization, BAGMAL was renamed the Alliance of Massachusetts Asian Lesbians and Gay Men (AMALGM).
As the editor of BAGMAL and AMALGM newsletters, Chua always encouraged frank discussions of Asian sexuality, seeking to empower Asians as subjects rather than as mere sex objects. To do so, "we hear their opinions, the expressions of their needs and feelings -- we see the world through their eyes." Chua also worked to eradicate racism within the LGBT community, insisting that the gay movement "acknowledge and include the participation of people of color." His organization had paved the way for similar groups to appear in major cities across the continent, providing safe places where queer Asians could be both queer and Asian at the same time.
In 1994, Chua passed away after a long battle with AIDS at the young age of 39. It was around this time that some AMALGM members started an HIV project purely on a volunteer basis. The HIV project eventually spun off of AMALGM to become Massachusetts Asian & Pacific Islanders for Health (formerly known as the Massachusetts Asian AIDS Prevention Project), a non-profit organization that promotes health, HIV and sexuality awareness, and access to care in Massachusetts Asian Pacific Islander communities. Starting off with only one part-time employee, ten years later MAP for Health has a full-time staff of eight.
Today our organization is known as the Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA), reflecting our inclusion of bisexual, trans, and questioning individuals, as well as Pacific-Islanders. We are still committed to providing a supportive social, political, and educational environment for all queer individuals of Asian and Pacific-Islander heritage in the Boston and New England area. Founded in 1979, QAPA, is the oldest Asian queer organization in the United States.
We currently have over 300 members in the New England area, plus many more ex-members spread around the world.