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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

UC Davis’ Asian and Pacific Islander Queers Club provides a safe space for students and community members

The club aims to be a place of respite for those of the AAPI and LGBTQ+ communities

 

By SAVANNAH BURGER — arts@theaggie.org

 

With UC Davis being a hub of diversity, there are many student-founded and led groups that act as smaller communities to give students the opportunity to relate to one another regarding specific experiences around race, religion, gender, sexuality, interests and more. The Asian and Pacific Islander Queers Club, otherwise known as APIQ, has been a center for Asian and Pacific Islander students who are also a part of the LGBTQIA+ community since 1997.

“APIQ is a place to talk about people’s unique struggles that come with being a queer Asian and fosters a community that truly understands one another,” Nid Lefkoff, a second-year anthropology major, said.

Lefkoff, the internal operations chair of APIQ’s core cabinet, has been a member of the club for a year. He, alongside his other cabinet members, runs the meetings and organizes multiple activities and special events throughout each quarter. These events include craft nights, journaling, music exchanges, speed friending and cultural picnics. Every meeting is designed to provide a space where seasoned members and newcomers alike can be open and vulnerable with one another about their lives while feeling safe and heard.

“Seeing people that have so much in common with me makes me feel so seen and happy,” Lefkoff said. “Where I grew up, I could count the number of queer Asians I knew on one hand, but coming to APIQ, it reminds me that there are people that truly understand some of my hardships.” 

Aside from the larger planned events, APIQ’s general meetings, which take place every other Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, usually start with socializing between members, followed by a prepared slideshow detailing staff introductions, announcements and that night’s activity. In addition to this, queer history is also given a space in every meeting. 

As a part of the initial presentation, the APIQ Spotlight is revealed, which is a short biography of a renowned figure of the queer AAPI community. This profile includes their achievements and role in the community in driving progress.

 Fourth-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major Juno V. is the historian chair of the group and writes many of the Spotlights. 

“I hope that by the work we do, we are able to provide members and newcomers with a similar sense of belonging and community,” V. said. “I’ve also grown professionally through my role as the historian of the club. I’ve learned new skills such as newsletter writing and publishing, photography management, interviewing skills and more.”

Along with providing opportunities to socialize and connect with other AAPI queer individuals, APIQ also grants its members training in the professional world. Shiloh Colongon, a second-year psychology and human development major, is the publicity chair of the club. She, along with V., said that APIQ has allowed her to grow professionally. 

“As publicity chair for APIQ, I am able to grow personally and professionally from collaborating with the other board members and gain hands-on experience in planning out events and assisting in promoting the meetings,” Colongon said.

You don’t have to have a chair in the cabinet to be able to receive professional experience. Every year, the group selects people to become interns, granting them the opportunity to be more involved with the behind-the-scenes of the club and the community at large. Multiple chairs, such as Lefkoff and Colongon, started out as interns. Although the application window has closed for the 2023-2024 school year, details of future intern recruitment can be found on their Instagram page.

APIQ is defined by its members as a place that is dedicated to ensuring that students can take a load off from their studies and connect with their community while having fun. 

“Doing something as simple as hosting events where people can meet each other and the conversations that are had in our space can be very meaningful — it’s easy to get lost in schoolwork and loneliness. I hope that APIQ is a respite from that for our members,” Angel L., fourth-year community and regional development major, said.

Now the senior advisor, L. describes the community created by APIQ as being vibrant and joyous. APIQ is a place where people can be open with their identities, struggles and lives surrounded by their culture and queerness. All queer, trans and questioning Asian and Pacific Islanders, as well as any other interested students, are welcome to be a part of this understanding and accepting on-campus community. 

 

Written by: Savannah Burger—arts@theaggie.org

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