2017 HONOREES – The founding editors of Phoenix Rising
Congratulations to the founding editors of Phoenix Rising — Lori Lai, May Lee, Susan Lee, Pam Nishikawa, Gisele Pohan, Marie Shim, Doreena Wong, and Zee Wong — our 2017 Phoenix Award Honorees!
In winter 1984, a handful of women gathered to establish a newsletter to claim a flourishing space for Asian/Pacific lesbian community. They were part of a group called Asian/Pacific Sisters founded just a few years earlier, perhaps the first and certainly the largest grassroots organization of its kind at the intersection of lesbian and Asian. The newsletter titled Phoenix Rising aimed to connect, support, and build the Asian/Pacific queer women’s community in the San Francisco Bay Area, long before the advent of social media. In its early years, the publication served as a significant platform for queer A/PI voices. Dykes, lesbians, and queers forged identities, sought out partners, and developed livelihoods in articles that shared both personal experiences and political philosophies. While conventional history cites strict families, immigrant values, and feminine submission as preventing Asian lesbians from coming out and demanding visibility, Phoenix Rising defied these stereotypes and boldly asserted that in fact A/PI queer women’s lives matter. Editors of Phoenix Rising, proudly posted their real names, declared themselves as feminists, and supported Asian Women’s Study/Support groups during an age when homophobia, anti-Asian animosity, and misogyny existed acceptably in media, government, and policy. More than 44 issues that ran across a decade gave voice to queer Asian women and broke down barriers in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. The 2017 Phoenix Award honors the founding editors of Phoenix Rising – Lori Lai, May Lee, Susan Lee, Pam Nishikawa, Gisele Pohan, Marie Shim, Doreena Wong, and Zee Wong.
APIQWTC Phoenix Award
The Phoenix Award honors API queer women and transgender individuals who have made outstanding contributions of historical significance to the Asian Pacific Islander queer women and transgender community. The Phoenix symbolizes virtue, grace, integrity, and peace. The mythical bird additionally signifies divine beauty in its symbolic incorporation of opposing forces – yin and yang, male and female, conflict and happiness – to create harmony and balance. Awardees embody the qualities of the Phoenix, in their power and commitment to inspire faith and incite action towards justice.