By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)
Amazin LêThi is an activist and advocate for LGBTQ+ people in Asia, US, Australia and Pacific Islands. Her impressive resume includes playing the violin, competing in Natural Bodybuilding, working in the Entertainment industry, several organizational ambassadorships and more recently, sharp shooting. Her big passion is in sports and exercise where she has worked with Olympic athletes and Special Forces. She even works as the go to Fitness Expert for ImagineAsian Entertainment which is the first ever Asian American TV Network.
LêThi is no stranger to bullying and discrimination. Born in Vietnam, LêThi was raised in Europe, US and Australia. She was bullied a lot as a child and teenager for “being different” both because of her Asian decent and her non-conforming sexuality. In addition, she faced a lot of pressure from her Asian heritage to “conform” to the culture and expectations of her family. A barrier that many LGBTQ+ people of Asian descent must face when accepting and living as their authentic selves.
“The Asian community is very conformist, there is great pressure to conform and not be anything other than what your Asian family expects of you,” she says. “Shame is also very prevalent. We have very few openly out Asian role models in the media or storylines in television or film. These are all contributing factors that make it difficult for Asian LGBTQ+ people to come out and be their authentic selves.”
For Amazin LêThi, she was able to find an outlet to channel herself through arts and sports. First with playing the violin, she went on to become a competitive natural bodybuilder.
I started bodybuilding at six and did a lot of athletics,” she says. “It was something I could do alone while still finding a sense of community, as my ability as an athlete wasn’t based on my sexuality or ethnicity. Sport gave me confidence and helped my mental well-being and gave me a sense of purpose. It’s because of sport that I’m working towards accelerating sport equality for the Asian LGBTQ+ community.”
Finding her passion in sports helped LêThi find herself. Through this passion she has developed a substantial career in helping to bridge the cultural gaps that Asian LGBTQ+ people face. She fights against the discrimination and stigma that LGBTQ+ people of Asian descent experience and works on increasing representation of Asian people in sports and media.
In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, she expressed her passion…
“I use sport as a platform to share my own story and in the hope that will inspire other API [Asian and Pacific Islander] people to come out within the community and within the ethnic community,” she said “Through the language of sport, I can bring you into my conversation about social issues.”
Through her foundation, Amazin LêThi Foundation, she works to “Empower LGBTQ youth and those affected by HIV/AIDS through a range of educational, sporting, leadership and mentoring programmes to campaign against discrimination.”
Named as GLAAD’s 1 of 7 Global Asian Advocates Advancing Equality and serving as an Official Athlete Ally Global Ambassador. In 2019, Amazin LêThi collaborated with Mayor’s Offices and Consulates across the US, Asia and Australia to discuss Asian LGBTQ+ people in athletic communities which served as the first discussion of its kind in America. A topic which she believes Asian LGBTQ+ people have historically, never been a part of.
Currently, LêThi is an ambassador for Federation of Gay Games, Pride House Birmingham 2022, Stonewall UK, Athlete Ally, and Vietnam Relief Services. In addition to her work, LêThi recently announced her transition to competitive shooting and is currently training for competition.
Last year we interviewed Amazin to catch up on her latest work, you can watch it here!
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Photo Credit: Amazin LêThi