Every May, Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated to honor the contributions and representation of the people and historical events of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The month is primarily celebrated in North America and found its beginnings in June of 1977 when representatives Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta introduced a resolution to recognize the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Shortly thereafter a similar bill was introduced into the Senate after by Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga that would recognize the entire month of May. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7th, 1843 and to mark the completion of the Transcontinental railroad on May 10th, 1869 in which the majority of the workers who built the railroad were Chinese immigrants.
Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates all the communities from throughout the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands including New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
Here at Compete Sports Diversity, we work to embody and represent the true meaning of “Sports Diversity” by sharing stories and representing the diverse communities that help make sports great. For Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’ll be telling the stories of Asian LGBTQI and Rainbow athletes from all over the world who are challenging the stigmas and stereotypes of LGBTQI Asians through participation and representation.
In addition, here we honor some of the Asian LGBTQI and Rainbow athletes and leaders we’ve covered this past year from all over the world.
- Shiho Shimoyamada born in Japan is a professional soccer player currently playing for the German Bundesliga team SV Meppen. She is the team’s only openly gay athlete and came out to help increase the visibility and representation of LGBTQI athletes from Japan in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Read more at https://competenetwork.com/german-bundesliga-soccer-player-from-japan-comes-out-as-lesbian-and-hopes-to-inspire-more-lgbt-visibility-at-the-2020-tokyo-olympics/
- Tadd Fujikawa born in Honolulu, Hawaii became the youngest golfer to compete in the PGA tour when he joined in 2006 age 15 years of age. He is also the first professional golfer to come out as gay and currently the only openly gay male Asian American professional athlete. Read more at https://competenetwork.com/tadd-fujikawa-addresses-depression-and-anxiety-in-public-coming-out/
- Amazin LêThi born in Vietnam is a bodybuilder, activist and athlete who is working to increase the representation of LGBTQI athletes of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. Amazin found confidence and a sense of purpose through sports, despite experiencing a lot of racism and sexism she persisted to become an accomplished bodybuilder and outspoken advocate that she is channeling into building sports equality for LGBTQI Asian and Pacific Islanders Read more at https://competenetwork.com/amazinlethi-shares-her-story-creates-discussion-and-is-taking-action-for-lgbt-women-and-asian-pacific-islander-athletes/
- Shigeo Iwamiya born on an American Air Force Base in Tokyo, Japan. Shigeo has faced a lot of racism and challenges with his duel Japanese and American heritage that had isolated from both communities. He channeled those experiences into his life and work within LGBTQI flag football that has helped him to overcome those experiences, find his community and empowered him to accept and love himself. Read more at https://competenetwork.com/shigeoiwamiya-creating-safe-empowering-spaces-for-lgbtq-athletes/
- Tony Smith born in Atlanta, Georgia with Filipino heritage has become a leader in the LGBTQI sports movement as well as in his city of Denver, CO. His mission is in the “art and business of building and celebrating community.” He has been part of the Federation of the Gay Games board and recently ran for Denver City Council. He is also an accomplished volleyball player and was Compete’s 2014 Mark Bingham Athlete of the Year. Read more at https://competenetwork.com/r-tony-smith-sdl-planning-celebrating-meaningful-causes/
- Gay Games 2022 Hong Kong will be the first ever Gay Games hosted in an Asian country and is currently working to build an entire LGBTQI sports community from the ground up in Hong Kong and other cities throughout China and Asia to promote LGBTQI sports. The motivation for hosting the Gay Games is to help drive LGBTQI inclusion and acceptance in Asian countries. Read more at https://competenetwork.com/from-gay-paree-to-hong-kong/
Unfortunately, the visibility of LGBTQI Asian and Pacific Islander athletes is quite low, especially when compared to athletes of other racial communities. There is a lot of stigma and stereotypes, as well as sexist, misogynist, homophobic, biphobic, intersexist and transphobic attitudes that are very prevalent within the Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQI communities. These kind of attitudes and behaviors are very harmful and contribute to the lack of visibility, representation and participation of openly LGBTQI athletes in sports. By sharing stories and standing up to the racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and intersexism, we can all work together to create change.
Follow the hashtag #AsianHeritageMonth and #AsianLGBTSports as we cover more Asian and Pacific Islander athletes in our community!
By Dirk Smith