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Lunar New Year Resource Kit

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The Lunar New Year is one of the most prominent holidays in East Asian communities. Similar cultural themes of the celebration are found among people with ethnic origins from China, Taiwan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan and Vietnam. Celebrations span from January to February with Chinese Lunar New Year, the largest celebration of its kind within the East Asian community, beginning on February 7, 2008. Despite some variations in celebrating Lunar New Year, the holiday is rooted in several common themes. The event represents an opportunity for renewal, spending time with family, paying respect to elders and community empowerment.

East Asian people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) continue to gain visibility because more people are coming out to family, friends and colleagues. This growing development sheds new light on their lives and experiences within these broader communities. Coverage on the Lunar New Year holiday can offer readers and viewers an opportunity to deepen their cultural understanding of the growing intersections between race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity.

GLAAD is inviting media outlets to enrich their holiday stories through the inclusion of the East Asian LGBT community in their Lunar New Year coverage.


BACKGROUND

Lunar New Year is one of the largest holidays celebrated around the world within the East Asian community. Broadly speaking, China, Taiwan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan and Vietnam are the six East Asian ethnic groups that celebrate the holiday. Each ethnic group observes different cultural practices and some celebrate it for faith or religious purposes. But common themes surround the holiday including the emphasized value of family, community togetherness and a time for personal renewal.

The holiday has different names in each community: Nónglì xīnnián (Mainland China and Taiwan); Seollal (Korea); Tsagaan Sar (Mongolia); Tết Nguyên Đán (Vietnam); Navavarsha (Nepal) and; Lhosar (Sherpa-Nepali and Tibetan).

Asian Americans continue to be one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. According to data from the 2000 US Census more than 5 million respondents identified themselves as being of East Asian descent. Specifically people of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese descent continue to lead the growth within the Asian American population. These communities have changed the US landscape with concentrated populations found in California, New York, Hawaii, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Virginia and Massachusetts. Media have played a role in elevating the voices of the East Asian community and its various cultural practices as a result of the growth in population and community visibility.

Lunar New Year has a variety of customs. Commonly shared practices found within the East Asian community include public celebrations and parades, the use of specific decorative symbols and colors, fireworks, special holiday cuisine and the exchange of gifts. Holiday participants travel during occasion time to reunite and spend time with family.

Observers of Lunar New Year believe the event represents a time for new beginnings, an opportunity to uphold family unity, pay tribute to ancestors and their accomplishments and the time for community empowerment.

 

EAST ASIAN LGBT STORY IDEAS FOR LUNAR NEW YEAR

GLAAD is offering several story ideas for reporters and journalists to consider in their news coverage of Lunar New Year celebrations:

  • Speak to East Asian LGBT people and families about their own traditions and cultural practices in observance of Lunar New Year
  • Interview LGBT people and/or organizations that participate in their local community’s Lunar New Year parade
  • Explore the growing visibility of LGBT people and their partners in East Asian families and their involvement with Lunar New Year festivities
  • Profile various East Asian LGBT community members and capture their personal reflections on the past year and what they hope for in the upcoming Lunar New Year
  • Highlight any LGBT-organized events in the coming Lunar New Year and what the festivities consist of (see press contacts below for specific event information)
  • Write about the East Asian LGBT people and their coming out experiences to family, friends and colleagues during Lunar New Year

 

TERMINOLOGY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

For additional terminology and other useful information, download copies of our

GLAAD Media Reference Guide at: www.glaad.org/media/guide/index.php

Chinese Language GLAAD Media Reference Guide at: www.glaad.org/2007/2007PDFS/ChineseLanguageGLAADMediaReferenceGuide.pdf

Terminology

  • Asian American – This phrase was first used in the 1980 Census to describe American citizens from all Asian ethnic backgrounds. It is a commonly used term and is preferred by those of Asian descent who were born and raised in the United States.
  • East Asia – A geographic region located within the Asian continent. It generally comprises of the following countries: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Vietnam.

General Recommendations for Covering East Asian Communities

  • Differentiate between those who are American citizens and those who are citizens of other countries. For example, if a story is about American citizens of Chinese descent, use “Chinese American” rather than Chinese. This also reduces any implication that people of Asian descent are all foreign or foreign born.
  • Avoid hyphenating racial and/or ethnic identities. For example, use “Indian American” instead of “Indian-American.” Hyphenation implies that a person is not a true American.

 

LGBT-Specific Recommendations for Covering East Asian Communities

  • Avoid common stereotypes, particularly targeting LGBT communities of color. For example, exoticizing people of Asian descent reinforce inaccurate stereotypes of being passive, weak or sex objects.
  • Avoid the misconception that all East Asians are of a particular religion or faith. There are a diversity of beliefs within the East Asian community and these should be taken into account when writing stories. Similarly, avoid the assumption that world religions or faiths of any kind are uniformly anti-gay.

 

PRESS CONTACTS

Asian Pacific Islander Equality
Los Angeles
Karin Wang
Media Committee Chair
(213) 241-0234
kwang@apalc.org

Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS)
Washington, DC
Hy Alvaran
Co-Chair
co-chairs@apiqsdc.org

Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA)
Washington, DC
D-Jae Dela Rosa
Board Chairman
aquadc@gmail.com

Chinese for Affirmative Action
San Francisco
Tawal Panyacosit
Director, API Equality
(415) 274-6750
tpanyacosit@caasf.org

Dari Project
New York
Un Jung Lim
Steering Committee Member
dari@dariproject.org

Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA)
San Francisco
Francis Tsang
Co-Chair
francis@gapa.org

Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
New York
Ken Takeuchi
Co-Chair
(917) 597-1424
kt@kentakeuchi.com

Invisible 2 Invincible
Chicago
Karl Kimpo
Steering Committee Member
(773) 349-7841
opmik75@gmail.com

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
Washington, DC
Ben DeGuzman
Co-Director
(202) 422-4909
ben_deguzman@nqapia.org

Network on Religion and Justice for Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBT People
San Francisco
Elizabeth Leung
NRJ Coordinating Minister
(510) 849-8937
eleung@psr.edu

Queer Asian Pacific Alliance (QAPA)
Boston
Kit Yan Lee
Steering Committee Member
(808) 741-0700
qapa@yahoogroups.com

Q-Wave
New York
Mari Morimoto
Steering Committee Member
(646) 522-5574
nycfishgirl@aol.com