Sep 7 • 41M

Arizona Equals Tin

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Arizona Equals is a conversational interview podcast chronicling the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ Arizonans. Listen to new episodes weekly on Wednesdays, featuring conversations with queer people living in Arizona.

Tin Subsin is an ASU student, a political activist and a podcast producer. In this episode, we talk about balancing her queer and Asian-American identities, and the way they motivate her to build safer community spaces.

Additional context for the conversation

Arizona Equals is a conversational interview podcast rooted in the idea that stories have power. Each episode, we sit down with an LGBTQ+ person living in Arizona to talk about their community ties and experiences in the state. Visit our website to listen to the full archive or to sign up to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast.

Full Transcript

00;00;00;01 - 00;00;26;21

Jeanne

Hi. Thanks for listening to the Arizona Equals Conversation. I'm Jeanne Woodbury. I'm the policy and communications director for Equality Arizona and the host of this podcast. Each week on the show, I sit down with an LGBTQ+ person living in Arizona to talk with them about their life. When we created the show, it was born out of a frustration with storytelling projects that focus on an individual and interior journey.

00;00;27;24 - 00;00;53;05

Jeanne

I try to understand my guests as people at the nexus of a whole network of relationships, and that could be a relationship to a person or to a community, to your neighborhood, to your city, or to your state. These are the things that really define us as individuals. And with the Arizona Equals Conversation, that's exactly what I want to highlight about the queer individuals I interview on the podcast.

00;00;53;05 - 00;01;21;07

Jeanne

Today on the show, I speak with Tin Subsin. I first met Tin at an LGBTQ+ event hosted by May Tiwamangkala of Arizona AANHPI for Equity, who I spoke with last week on the podcast. You can find that interview and our entire archive at EqualityArizona.org/Stories, or you can follow the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or the podcast player of your choice.

00;01;22;04 - 00;01;54;11

Jeanne

Today's guest on the podcast, Tin is a student, a political activist and a producer on her own podcast through ASU titled Chasing Cherry Blossoms. With many of my guests, discussing the pandemic, I found it to be a particularly transformative time in their lives, not just because of the societal upheaval, but often for coincidental or almost coincidental reasons like moving, graduating, coming out, finding a job and more.

00;01;54;11 - 00;02;21;04

Jeanne

Listening to Tin, I felt that her experience trying to balance both her Asian-American and queer identities reached something of a breaking point during the pandemic. But I think that you should hear about it in her own words. So I'll let her introduce herself and get the podcast started.

00;02;26;17 - 00;02;40;08

Tin

Hello everyone. My name is Tin Subsin. I am a youth engagement fellow at the Arizona AANHPI for Equity, and I'm also a civic leader for 18byVote.

00;02;40;08 - 00;02;49;13

Jeanne

So you were telling me actually that you were running a podcast affiliated with ASU just earlier this year. Right? Can you tell me a little bit about that?

00;02;49;18 - 00;03;18;07

Tin

Yeah. So it's an ASU affiliated podcast that I helped create. So I was a junior producer with my advisor, Professor Reina Higashitani. And basically what we did was we talked to various Japanese-American community leaders and people who were really involved with the community as a whole. So that was in downtown L.A. and that was also in Arizona, kind of like local, too.

00;03;18;25 - 00;03;26;25

Tin

And we highlighted Japanese-American women specifically and told their stories and talked about like the Asian-American journey. So that was really fun.

00;03;26;26 - 00;03;35;04

Jeanne

Oh, yeah, that's amazing. And what was your process for reaching out to guests, especially locally? When you say, kind of, local, what do you mean by local?

00;03;35;17 - 00;03;58;11

Tin

Yeah, so we talked to just a few people. Well, specifically, my professor was the one that did a lot of the outreach. So that was like really helpful. And, but I want to kind of be that bridge between like the Japanese-American community and like people who are outside the Japanese-American community, because I'm not Japanese-American myself, so I'm like half white, half Thai.

00;03;58;11 - 00;04;25;00

Tin

But that would, I think one of the most memorable guests that I had was Cindi Kishiyama-Harbottle from the, she's the vice president of the JACL, the Japanese-American Citizens League, the Arizona chapter. Yeah. So it was really fun talking to her and talking about, because we had very similar kind of like — being Asian-American in Arizona is like a very unique experience, but we kind of had similar kind of journeys and stories.

00;04;25;11 - 00;04;36;15

Tin

So that's what I was kind of, with the local. And then we also talked to, you know, various people like we talked to some professors at ASU. And we also, I just there's such a long list. I can't remember everything.

00;04;36;15 - 00;04;37;15

Jeanne

That's exciting.

00;04;37;15 - 00;04;40;11

Tin

But every guest was important. I'm just going to put that out there.

00;04;40;11 - 00;04;42;07

Jeanne

How long did the podcast run for?

00;04;42;14 - 00;05;01;15

Tin

Right. So I was hired in February and it ran up until May, and right now it's still a work in progress, so it's kind of going through the editing process and everything like that. But I was, a lot of people think it was like a project, like a school project, but I was actually like hired on and specifically —

00;05;01;23 - 00;05;18;03

Tin

And then I also had like a co-junior producer who, we are both not like film students or anything like that, or podcast students, I guess. So we weren't part of that department. So we both have very different like, I guess career aspects, but we still wanted to do this podcast.

00;05;18;07 - 00;05;24;20

Jeanne

What is your focus then, if it's not that kind of media production? What are you working on?

00;05;24;26 - 00;05;46;24

Tin

Right, so, that's actually a very interesting question because I feel like most, like most college students, I'm still kind of up in the air. But what I specifically want to do, because my major is medical microbiology, believe it or not.

Jeanne

Oh, wow, that's great.

Tin

Yeah, I know when I tell people that, because we even talked to a few film students in LA and they're like, Oh, so what are you, like audio engineering majors?

00;05;46;24 - 00;05;57;10

Tin

No, medical microbiology. But I basically want to hopefully go into the genetic counseling field. I don't know if you know too much about that.

00;05;57;17 - 00;05;58;25

Jeanne

Can you tell me a little bit about it?

00;05;58;25 - 00;06;08;29

Tin

Yeah. So genetic counseling is basically it could be a variety of things. It's kind of like med school in a way, because, you know, you can be in different areas or fields.

00;06;08;29 - 00;06;09;15

Jeanne

Oh, I see.

00;06;09;15 - 00;06;20;24

Tin

Yeah. So basically you would look at people's like family history and then also you would look for markers and well, it depends on what you're looking for, but genetic markers you will get like their DNA sequence.

00;06;21;11 - 00;06;28;24

Jeanne

So they might give like a blood sample. And then you analyze their DNA and you look at maybe like a family tree.

Tin

Yeah.

Jeanne

And then where do you go from there?

00;06;28;24 - 00;06;47;18

Tin

Yeah. So it depends on like like you said what you want to do. But specifically what I want to do is work with like rare genetic diseases. So you would test maybe if you have someone in your family that has a rare genetic disease or just a genetic disease in general, you would see how probable it is for you to have that.

00;06;48;01 - 00;06;59;03

Tin

And also, there's other areas where there's like cancer genetics. So you can see how probable it is to have cancer. And so it's very, a taxing job as well, just like emotionally.

00;06;59;15 - 00;07;05;12

Jeanne

I can imagine. And I can imagine sometimes people might not want to know.

00;07;05;12 - 00;07;23;09

Tin

Exactly, so that is — I'm glad you brought that up because that's like one of the biggest debates. Right. So would you tell someone that they have a genetic disease or genetic disorder that's going to alter their life if even if there's a good probability of it, because then they have to change their lifestyle completely, right? Or would you just, like, let them know and then if it happens, it happens, right?

00;07;23;09 - 00;07;36;21

Tin

So it's just very, very it's kind of like a new field too. So there's a lot of debate on like bioethics. I just took a bioethics class that was just kind of like talking about genetic counseling. I was like, Oh my gosh, yeah, that's what I want to do.

00;07;36;21 - 00;07;41;04

Jeanne

Oh, that's that's a great entry point through ethics. Into the field.

00;07;41;04 - 00;07;59;05

Tin

Exactly. So it was just very you know, it's something that — because I originally was pre-med, so that was kind of the kind of the route for a long time. But then I realized I wanted to I still want that patient contact because before that I wanted to get my Ph.D. so it just keeps changing.

00;07;59;05 - 00;08;02;01

Jeanne

So that's the classic college experience. I think.

00;08;02;01 - 00;08;19;28

Tin

Yeah, honestly, I'm a junior right now, so it's like, okay, I kind of need to figure out what I'm doing, but I still have a little bit of time.But that's like, kind of like, an in-between, in between like medicine and just kind of like the more analytical side of like research and stuff like that.

00;08;19;28 - 00;08;34;08

Jeanne

Yeah, and I like that. It's actually still very personal and relational, um, which is similar to that podcast. I want to back up for a second. Is that podcast something people can listen to now, or is it something that's going to come out in the future? The one that you did at ASU?

00;08;34;08 - 00;08;51;24

Tin

Yeah. So it is. We have two sample episodes because I had a like presentation kind of showcase for it in March, I believe, and we had these like ten minute sample episodes. So you can listen to those, which is, mine's on there, you know, really pluging everything.

00;08;51;27 - 00;08;52;08

Jeanne

Oh, nice.

00;08;53;23 - 00;09;02;14

Tin

We can also, it should be out sometime I guess like in this semester, this fall semester, just because it's like editing and everything, because we have a lot of content.

00;09;02;14 - 00;09;05;28

Jeanne

Yeah it sounds like it. what's the name of the project?

00;09;06;06 - 00;09;07;26

Tin

It's Chasing Cherry Blossoms.

00;09;07;27 - 00;09;13;26

Jeanne

Wonderful. I'll make sure to put the information in the show notes for people to find that.

00;09;13;27 - 00;09;14;19

Tin

I would love that.

00;09;14;25 - 00;09;29;15

Jeanne

You mentioned that you were able to connect with the guests around what you described as a really unique experience of being Asian-American in Arizona. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that unique experience is?

00;09;29;15 - 00;09;54;25

Tin

Right. So to my, because I even just talk to different people of like Asian-American descent or just like around the country. And it seems like Arizona has like probably one the smallest Asian-American populations compared to like how big the city is, because there's not a lot of — just there was kind of like a big community going around the Chinese Cultural Center.

00;09;54;25 - 00;10;13;14

Tin

I don't know if, you know, it's like somewhere, it was like near like I think 32nd Street or something like that. But that was kind of like a meeting place for almost all, like the Asian-Americans in Phoenix. But then they like, closed it down because they wanted to build apartments. So yeah, apartments slash condos.

00;10;13;15 - 00;10;14;15

Jeanne

So that was a real loss at that point in time.

00;10;14;25 - 00;10;51;11

Tin

Exactly. So that was when I started feeling, I was already feeling isolated with being in the Asian-American community because I am biracial and I'm also Southeast Asian. So, you know, it's a minority of a minority of a minority, right? And then to add on to that with the podcast, I'm also queer, so it's like even more a minority. So then not having that place that we can gather or we can just like feel at home and no one can like make fun of us for like the food we're eating or like, you know, you can see people that maybe have like similar experiences as you that was like kind of what pushed me into advocacy because I was like,

00;10;51;11 - 00;11;05;20

Tin

okay, my area, especially the area that I live in, is getting gentrified and we're getting rid of all these like places that are so culturally significant. Like, why is this happening and why do they not care that, you know, they're displacing us basically?

00;11;05;20 - 00;11;37;11

Jeanne

Right. There's all these layers of marginalization. You're losing your community center. You're marginalized through the specific cultures that you're connected to. And then you're also queer. And you know, in the theme of this podcast, I'd really like to ask how that kind of works. Do you feel marginalized in your community spaces because of your queer identity? Do you feel marginalized in queer community spaces because of your racial identity?

00;11;37;11 - 00;11;38;14

Jeanne

How does that play out for you?

00;11;38;24 - 00;12;03;13

Tin

Yeah, I talked a little bit about this just previously at The Healing Circle. I know, but I'll just reiterate it. Basically, I feel like I have to hide my identity sometimes. So in queer spaces I have to kind of let go of my Asian-American identity because I, my, the issues that I face as an Asian-American is not put in place there because there's a lacking intersectionality.

00;12;03;26 - 00;12;23;27

Tin

And then within the Asian-American community, I have to kind of hide my queerness because I've had people go up to me or like they'll be like, oh, you know, we're very accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community and then when I, just like even just joking around, being like, Oh, I think that girl is really pretty. They're like, That's kind of weird of you to say.

00;12;24;07 - 00;12;33;04

Tin

So it's just like, where do I belong, right? Because if I can't be truly myself in any of those communities, like, where's my community? Right.

00;12;33;06 - 00;12;54;16

Jeanne

Yeah. Well, and for listener context, you mentioned the healing circle. This was an event through Arizona AANHPI for Equity. I was fortunate enough to go to that and meet you there and that seems like a space where you do get to have all of that. Is that pretty rare? And then how did you find and get connected to that group?

00;12;55;02 - 00;12;59;15

Tin

Yeah, I, I would kind of say that the only time that I felt accepted.

00;12;59;15 - 00;13;00;04

Jeanne

The only time.

00;13;00;04 - 00;13;19;25

Tin

Yes. Because I've been — you know, like I said, I've had past experiences with both the Asian-American community and also the queer community of just being outcasted. You know whether one way or another, and I bet a lot of people can relate to that, right, especially queer people of color, because you're just like, like I said, you don't know where you belong.

00;13;20;02 - 00;13;42;14

Tin

So having queer people of color, specifically queer like Asian-Americans, it's like, oh, I'd even know that we existed, you know, at that point, because it's just very strange to, I mean not strange, but it was very like comforting to see that there's people who struggles with their Asian identity and struggle with their queerness and they don't have to choose either one.

00;13;42;14 - 00;14;05;28

Tin

They can be both, right? So I've never had a space like that before because I've been to like my Pride Coalition in high school and they would just like disregard anything that I would bring up, even like, you know, we talked about in the healing circle, kind of the coming out story and just like all these things that a lot of people don't factor into the Asian-American identity as well.

00;14;06;11 - 00;14;21;26

Jeanne

Well, tell me a little bit more about that. I know we've talked about it before, but that coming out experience, I think sometimes people have one impression of what coming out is going to be like. And you had a really different perspective that I really appreciated. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

00;14;21;29 - 00;14;42;22

Tin

Yeah. So that's kind of funny too, that I'm doing a podcast and I'm not out to my family yet. So, and it's very like, you know, it's not that I'm worried that they, like specifically my, like really only my close family to me is my dad. So I'm not worried that he's not going to like accept me or anything like that.

00;14;43;00 - 00;15;07;03

Tin

It's just I feel like the he's from an older generation. So understanding, you know, the different identities within the LGBTQ+IA community. So it's not just like lesbian and gay, there's the whole spectrum, right? And it's very hard for him to grasp sometimes. But I think it's, he's a very accepting person. So I know that he would love me no matter what.

00;15;07;04 - 00;15;18;12

Tin

I just feel like it's not important for me to bring it up, which is kind of when I say that, when I keep on saying that out loud, I'm like, Oh, maybe it is because I identify with it so much I'm on this podcast, so obviously,

Jeanne

Right

Tin

Right

00;15;18;23 - 00;15;42;10

Jeanne

It is important to you. But then it's a question of, well, how does this enter into my relationships, like this really close relationship with your dad? There's other important things in that relationship, right, like in any relationship. So it makes sense to try to balance that. And I'm curious, I think you're clearly still working through this, but how do you approach that balance?

00;15;42;10 - 00;15;50;10

Jeanne

What are some of the other important things about those family and cultural relationships that you have to weigh against this really important part of yourself?

00;15;50;16 - 00;16;10;18

Tin

Yeah, I think we, specifically because I'm not very connected to my Asian-American culture, which I think a lot of people can relate to, especially, like I said, in Arizona, because there's no resources. So there's like not a lot of, there's really not a Thai community at all really in Arizona. If there is, I don't really know about them.

00;16;11;23 - 00;16;36;28

Tin

So I think the aspects of just like, change is kind of hard, and it's like not specifically for my family, but maybe like my, like, you know, the older people in my family, it's hard to kind of grasp something that's like not in the norm. So I think that's a lot of Asian-Americans can relate to that. So it's like we don't we don't want to cause any conflicts because, you know, family is usually all we have.

00;16;37;06 - 00;16;51;20

Tin

And we have such a big emphasis in family and there's like that's kind of like how we feel at home, right? Because we can't feel at home in other spaces, like I said, they just kind of feel marginalization. So family is always something that you can come back to, right?

00;16;52;08 - 00;17;08;23

Jeanne

And I think that's something that maybe white queer people, it might be part of their experience, but it might not be in the same way that it's, it's sometimes the only refuge or the only community space. You said something I thought was really interesting where you said, I didn't know people like this existed and you're one of those people.

00;17;08;23 - 00;17;09;07

Tin

Right?

00;17;09;13 - 00;17;21;07

Jeanne

But it makes sense when you don't have these resources and you don't have these community centers. Your family is the one place that maybe you can have the food that you want to have and not be judged for it, things like that.

00;17;21;11 - 00;17;44;20

Tin

Yeah. And I think to being like half white myself, I've seen the dynamics be different between like you know, the white community and the Asian-American community because we have like emphasis in the Asian-American here we have an emphasis on food and that's like how we bond with people. But, you know, maybe and that's like I said, if you don't get invited to like those food dinners anymore.

00;17;44;20 - 00;18;13;07

Tin

And that's like kind of an insult to you now, right? So just kind of having that connection with family and just knowing that, like you said, you have something to go back to and everything like that. And I'm really, actually I'm a big advocate on chosen family as well, which is kind of rare in the Asian-American community just because, like I said, I have that experience with the white side of my family and I'm like, okay, you know, family is family too.

00;18;13;15 - 00;18;31;26

Tin

But also we have to set boundaries. So I talk to like my friends who are Asian-Americans and they don't really understand setting boundaries or trying to kind of, you know, make sure that they're being fully themselves, which I think I said I'm kind of a hypocrite a little bit, right?

00;18;31;26 - 00;18;44;01

Jeanne

Well, that's a process, right?

Tin

Yeah

Jeanne

I'm curious when you're going out and you're creating chosen family, do you use that template of your own family? Are you able to bring that into that process?

00;18;44;19 - 00;19;01;24

Tin

Yeah, that's a good question, actually, because I think with my chosen family, we all are people of color or most of us are people of color, or we have a big emphasis in like just identifying with our culture, kind of.

00;19;01;24 - 00;19;02;02

Jeanne

Okay, yeah.

00;19;02;02 - 00;19;24;11

Tin

But we've all been kind of ostracized one way or another from our culture. A lot of my friends are part of the POC, like community. So we need to know, like, like I said, we, we need to know where we're safe and we need to know like how to kind of, I guess, balance, like you said, queerness and like being part of the POC community.

00;19;24;21 - 00;19;25;13

Tin

So.

00;19;25;21 - 00;19;52;17

Jeanne

Yeah. When you've mentioned these experiences, you have interviewing people for the podcast, finding community has pushed you into advocacy and it seems like part of that advocacy is just saying we're losing our community spaces and part of it is just finding ways to create community. So how long has that been going on for you and what are some of the challenges or maybe really wonderful things you found through that?

00;19;53;08 - 00;20;25;09

Tin

Yeah, so it's been a long journey. I think I've always had the mindset of like, something's wrong, I need to do it, I need to, I need to change something. And I don't, I just never knew what I could do. But then I think around the podcast, that's where it kind of pushed me because I actually kind of removed myself from the Asian-American community for like around two years because there was just like a really bad incident where I try to find community within like at least the ASU sphere.

00;20;25;09 - 00;20;31;23

Tin

And it did not work out for me. It was just like maybe just the wrong people or the wrong time and it was like during quarantine too. So it was kind of like.

00;20;31;28 - 00;20;35;00

Jeanne

Was this sort of at the beginning of your time at ASU?

00;20;35;00 - 00;20;55;03

Tin

Right. So it was before I even got into ASU. So I kind of connected with a few people and it was just very, it, I was trying to be someone that I wasn't. So I was just trying to kind of be like, Oh, more, I guess, Asian than I should, like I really am because I'm like, Oh, I have to be this certain way.

00;20;55;09 - 00;21;14;10

Tin

So that people can accept me for who I am. So that's, I just like, didn't want anything to do with it. I was like, okay, I'm just going to, you know, keep my head down and work through it. And then I actually took an Asian-American psychology class, and I realized that not every Asian-American person feels the way I am with, like, the marginalization.

00;21;14;23 - 00;21;15;22

Tin

So, like.

00;21;15;22 - 00;21;16;09

Jeanne

Oh okay, fascinating.

00;21;16;09 - 00;21;20;01

Tin

Yeah. And there's like this like Berry's Acculturation Model, which.

00;21;20;17 - 00;21;21;21

Jeanne

Tell me a little bit about that.

00;21;21;21 - 00;21;24;15

Tin

Yeah, I definitely can because it's my favorite thing to talk about.

00;21;24;16 - 00;21;25;02

Jeanne

Oh, amazing.

00;21;25;02 - 00;21;54;19

Tin

Yeah. So it's basically there's like four quadrants and it's like, how close are you to your host country and how close are you to like your indigenous or native country? And there's like assimilation, so you completely accept your host country and then you leave any like native cultures behind. And then there is like integration, I believe, where it's like you can have the best of both worlds and I know there's one other one, but I'm not sure, and it is.

00;21;54;19 - 00;21;58;13

Tin

Basically, I have to think about it, but I'll definitely.

00;21;58;13 - 00;21;59;19

Jeanne

I think I can picture it.

00;21;59;19 - 00;22;00;04

Tin

Yeah.

00;22;00;09 - 00;22;02;15

Jeanne

Two axes and then four quadrants.

00;22;02;15 - 00;22;30;06

Tin

Exactly. And there was the one that stuck out to me the most was the marginalization. So that means that you don't feel any connection to your native country and you don't feel any connection to your host country. And I was like, Oh, that's me. Yeah. And then we started talking about how those people have in the marginalization section have more, I guess there's more cases of like depression and they're more likely to have depression and isolation.

00;22;30;06 - 00;22;37;29

Tin

And just like all these mental illnesses because of their feeling marginalization. And I was like, Oh, maybe that is me.

00;22;38;11 - 00;22;39;26

Jeanne

I mean, it's alienating.

00;22;39;27 - 00;22;40;17

Tin

Exactly.

00;22;41;04 - 00;22;45;06

Jeanne

Where do you see a lot of the people that you're able to meet on that quadrant?

00;22;45;09 - 00;23;05;19

Tin

Yeah, and it's like, that's a good question too, because I've met so many different people now. I would say in my high school, I would think that they were either in the assimilation one or the marginalization one, because there was not a very, I think there's probably ten Asian-Americans in my high school, and it was a pretty big high school.

00;23;05;19 - 00;23;30;24

Tin

I think our graduating class was like 500 people or something like that. So, you know, but it's just it makes me really sad to see that we have to choose that side, right? Ideally, I would want everyone to be integration, right? And they would be like, you know, connected to their host culture and native culture. But that's unfortunately, I see a lot of people in the marginalization category in Arizona.

00;23;30;24 - 00;23;43;15

Jeanne

And it seems like partly it's through a lack of resources and opportunity, not because people wouldn't choose that, but because sometimes they just don't have the opportunity to choose that.

00;23;43;18 - 00;24;09;11

Tin

Yeah. And going back to your question, I never answered with AZ AANHPI for Equity, I feel like they are like exactly what I was looking for when I was like in high school. I was like, I need, I have to have a community that understands my struggles and they don't dismiss just kind of like intersect— like because I know a lot of people don't have an emphasis on intersectionality and they just dismiss concerns or anything else.

00;24;09;11 - 00;24;17;16

Tin

Or if you feel, you tell someone you feel alienated, they're like, Oh, but you're, you're in this space, like, it's a safe space. But it wasn't truly a safe space.

00;24;17;24 - 00;24;18;03

Jeanne

Yeah.

00;24;18;08 - 00;24;37;00

Tin

So I, actually it's a funny story. I found them through like Instagram and I saw like their fellowship and I was like, Oh, okay. And then I met them at the ASU Culture Night, which was like for the Asian. I think [inaudible] was running it. I think the Asian-American Pacific, uh, culture, it's a long acronym.

00;24;37;00 - 00;24;38;13

Jeanne

Yeah, it's a lot of acronyms.

00;24;38;13 - 00;24;54;20

Tin

Yeah. So and then I got to meet Nile and May, who I didn't even know were Nile and May at the time and I was just like, oh, like, this is something. I saw them immediately and it was like, the vibes are great. So I was like, Oh, I actually want to apply to this now. So I'm really glad I got the opportunity to do so.

00;24;54;20 - 00;25;15;23

Jeanne

Yeah, Nile and May are really incredible and I think the work they're doing at that organization is really incredible and kind of unique in a lot of ways. There aren't spaces like that for a lot of communities where you get to bring different aspects of your identity in and actually see all of those things in a real way.

00;25;16;17 - 00;25;48;13

Tin

Yeah, and it's just like I've never had, like I said, a space that was like, you're not just talking to a wall when you're talking about these issues. They actually are listening to you and they're absorbing it and they're like offering comfort and not even comfort too, like solutions too. They're like, you know, how can we make this, or at least Arizona, a safer space for, you know, any community, just like, any marginalized community, including like Asian-Americans, including the LGBTQIA+ community.

00;25;48;13 - 00;26;16;22

Jeanne

So yeah. So you talked about not finding that until really recently, having some trouble early on in college and even before college and then in high school, having a really marginalized experience. What was your high school experience like in terms of navigating queer identity and Asian-American identity? Is it something that your school had room for and opportunity around or was it all just marginalization?

00;26;16;22 - 00;26;36;11

Tin

Well, so we did have the Pride Coalition, which I think in the later years because I know the people who took over it, it was very they're out there doing things. They're very involved with the community because I think they even were involved with one -n-ten, which is like an organization in that I think AANHPI might be involved in as well because we had a speaker from there.

00;26;36;23 - 00;26;39;16

Jeanne

So one-n-ten is amazing. They do a lot of work with queer youth.

00;26;39;24 - 00;27;01;20

Tin

Yeah, that's how I kind of got introduced to them and I've been kind of like, they've been on my radar. I really love what they're doing and I, you know, I really want to support them in some way. Well, I'm trying to go to some of the events that they're hosting and everything like that. But they were, it was kind of sad because there was no support within the high school.

00;27;01;28 - 00;27;29;03

Tin

So there was an incident where it was Pride Week and I'm gonna be really candid with you. So there is an instance where there is Pride Week and the Pride flags were taken down and, basically by students, there was a group of students and they put Trump flags up and it was just I, I just didn't understand why they were so hateful because it wasn't, no one was hurting anyone.

00;27;29;03 - 00;27;53;20

Tin

No one was doing anything. It was just having the celebration of a community that was different than maybe what your people are normally used to, which I think people should be pretty used to the LGBTQIA+ community by now because, you know, we're trying to get more accepted into society in general.

Jeanne

Yeah.

Tin

So just to have that mindset was like, Oh, we're not as progressive as I thought we were.

00;27;53;20 - 00;27;54;01

Jeanne

Yeah.

00;27;54;07 - 00;27;55;28

Tin

So it's very kind of heartbreaking.

00;27;56;09 - 00;27;58;03

Jeanne

Well, and that's scary, I think.

00;27;58;03 - 00;27;58;16

Tin

Oh, yeah. 100%.

00;27;59;03 - 00;28;10;26

Jeanne

Um, what was the Pride Coalition focused on? Maybe outside of a Pride event? What were some of the activities or projects that it would work on?

00;28;11;04 - 00;28;38;05

Tin

Yeah. So I was just kind of like I obviously I said I'm not out to my family, but I'm out to like my friends and anybody like, because we just met too. So obviously I'm out to you, but I was not out to anybody in high school, so I was just kind of like I went to like one or two meetings or anything and that was kind of, you know. In the beginning when I was like my freshman year, it was just kind of like a standoffish club.

00;28;38;11 - 00;28;58;07

Tin

Like I said then I know some people who took over do it and it was like a very safe space. So that was like a safe space, but also it wasn't. I still didn't feel comfortable enough to even like share my identity with people. It was just, like I said, maybe it was just my own journey that I was going on or anything.

00;28;58;07 - 00;29;15;26

Tin

But it was, they did like a lot of events that I wish I attended, but I was just kind of scared to, honestly. So they did like Movie Night and they did a, like I said, the Pride Week event and they worked with other organizations that I was kind of aware of just because they were like kind of like my friends running it.

00;29;15;26 - 00;29;22;09

Jeanne

Oh, yeah.

Tin

So but it was just something that I was not ready yet to be involved with.

00;29;22;17 - 00;29;53;20

Jeanne

And I think that fear can be a really real experience. You've talked about sometimes maybe overplaying aspects of your identity or underplaying aspects of your identity, trying to find your way just through society. And it seems like partly because these spaces are being taken away or threatened, you have to lean so much on your individual understanding of yourself instead of, well, "here's people like me."

00;29;53;21 - 00;30;08;03

Jeanne

Like when you said "I didn't know people like this existed" and you exist, right? But that is different. Knowing that you exist doesn't immediately tell you, Well, here's how I can go out and be in society.

00;30;08;24 - 00;30;31;13

Tin

Yeah. I mean, I definitely too think that the factor was that I didn't really feel safe as a person of color in my high school. So if I'm like, I don't want to add on to that, I don't want to add another target on my back. Yeah. You know, so because it's like, okay, I'm already a person of color, I can't change that. With queerness in a way,

00;30;31;27 - 00;30;42;11

Tin

You can hide that a little bit and it's not good to do that, but if my safety is at risk, I will have to do that just because I can't hide that I'm a person of color.

00;30;42;18 - 00;31;09;23

Jeanne

Right. And that's an important distinction. You're able to hide your queer identity, whereas you're not able to hide that. You mentioned getting into ASU and a little bit before that, having some trouble connecting to community there. I think it sounds like some of this was really early on in the pandemic, and I know that unfortunately there's been a real, like statistically significant rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

00;31;10;05 - 00;31;15;05

Jeanne

Did that add to that level of fear that you were already experiencing?

00;31;15;14 - 00;31;41;19

Tin

Oh, definitely. Like definitely. There was this time where, so I'm like a little bit racially ambiguous. Like a lot of people don't know I'm Asian until I tell them I'm Asian, so I was just like, you know, I, I feared that something would happen, but I was like, okay, if something happens, like, will people attack me? Do I kind of look Asian or do I, or can I hide this too?

00;31;41;19 - 00;32;04;04

Tin

So that was just like the amount, I think kind of the thing that I think about was like, how do I kind of make myself look neutral as possible and just kind of protecting myself. So there's a point in time where I was, like, scared for my dad to even, like, go out to work during that time because I was like, what if someone, you know, just decides that they want to do something like attack him?

00;32;04;10 - 00;32;27;22

Tin

So it did definitely. And it's kind of ironic because I feel like a lot of queer youth, especially, you know, kind of people close to me or just in general, I see on like TikTok and stuff, we kind of found our identities through the pandemic. So that's something very interesting because I also was like comfortable enough to say that I was queer during the pandemic but before that, I would have never said that.

00;32;28;04 - 00;32;46;02

Jeanne

Why do you think that is? I'm really curious, because I've seen the same thing. I mean, obviously there's always people coming out. So it's going to happen during the pandemic, too. But it does seem like there's something about the pandemic experience for a lot of people that helps them actually to open up and and explore their identity.

00;32;46;28 - 00;33;08;28

Tin

I think personally for me it was a lot of reflection, right? So it was like, do I want to kind of keep hiding who I am to, you know, the general public, even though, like I said, not out to the family yet, but that's fine. But do I want to, or do I want to live the life that I want to live?

00;33;08;28 - 00;33;30;12

Tin

Right. And kind of I feel like everyone kind of went down that spiral and like during, you know, the early weeks of, like, the pandemic, and we're just like, oh, okay, you know, we don't know what's happening and the future's so unseen. So I just thought to myself, you know, I'm not going to stop myself from fully being who I want to be.

00;33;30;20 - 00;33;53;01

Tin

And if I, like, fall in love with someone and they're not, you know, the opposite gender, that's going to be fine. Because I always thought about that. And I know that a lot of people have similar experiences, like, oh, I have to, you know, even though, because I do identify most closely to bisexual, but I like the term queer best, but I say bisexual because people are like, queer, what is that?

00;33;53;09 - 00;34;16;16

Tin

So that's another thing with like the Asian-American community, we just kind of have to like pick a label because maybe your parents will understand that. So with that, I just knew that, you know, okay, I am queer, but then in the end I will probably be with a man just because it's easier and it'll be easier to explain to everybody, explain to like my family and everything like that.

00;34;16;26 - 00;34;26;12

Tin

But then I was like, Well, what if I'm unhappy with that? So I just kind of, you know, I guess let myself be who I want to be during that time.

00;34;27;04 - 00;34;38;15

Jeanne

And I think it's interesting in the context of everything we've talked about. Early in the pandemic, is this moment where almost all community opportunities are just fully taken away.

00;34;38;15 - 00;34;38;27

Tin

Right.

00;34;39;06 - 00;35;19;20

Jeanne

And it sounds like every time that happens, you kind of double down on saying, no, I'm going to go out and make this work somehow. And I think that's, one, just really an amazing thing. But two, I think, kind of instructive about how we process identity and community as like a conversation. Moving forward, now that you've made these big steps of getting involved in advocacy and community organizations, what are some of your hopes for queer community and Asian-American community in Arizona?

00;35;20;25 - 00;35;43;11

Tin

Yeah, I mean, I, I dream big. I really do. So I really want to focus on just making sure that, you know, like this is a big goal, but I don't want anyone to feel the way I felt in high school. Like they have to hide themselves, you know, maybe even for, you know, a day they could have a place where they can truly be who they are.

00;35;43;16 - 00;36;02;29

Tin

And it doesn't matter, like any of their background or anything, they can just be themselves. And I think that's kind of my goal with everything that I'm doing, cause like moving forward with, you know, AZ AANHPI for Equity. But I'm also working with this organization called 18byVote, right? And it's like.

00;36;02;29 - 00;36;03;23

Jeanne

Tell me a little bit about that.

00;36;03;23 - 00;36;30;29

Tin

Yeah. So basically we encourage 16, 17, 18 year olds to vote and we do it through education, but we kind of have kind of, I guess, hotspots in like six different locations where we have like different civic leaders, which I am and I want to kind of emphasize more on like grassroot movements and education workshops and stuff like that because people don't realize that marginalized communities are affected when trying to vote.

00;36;31;10 - 00;36;57;01

Tin

So, you know, and I that, you definitely have experience in that.

Jeanne

Yeah.

Tin

And because even with like the anti-trans laws that were just passed, and I really want to highlight on like why is this happening now and even from like a health care aspect, I know like monkeypox is kind of being marketed against like the queer community, especially specifically gay men, or identify people who identify as men.

00;36;57;11 - 00;37;14;21

Tin

So it's just very… I don't know, it's just like I feel like I want to kind of move forward from all this discrimination and everything like that, but I feel like I keep being pushed back. So my goals with that, sorry kind of tangent.

00;37;14;23 - 00;37;15;15

Jeanne

No I love it.

00;37;15;19 - 00;37;35;28

Tin

Yeah. I want to specifically with 18byVote, I want to host like education workshops for marginalized communities because like you said, our obstacles are very unique and a lot of people won't understand that. And they would just be like, Oh, just vote. But there's so many obstacles when it comes to voting that are put in place by people in power to keep our voices silent.

00;37;36;05 - 00;37;56;14

Tin

And that's not right. We have just as much right as any other American citizen or quote unquote, what they perceive as normal. But you know, what is normal, right? So it just, that's what kind of I would like to have is just, acknowledging the issue, because even acknowledging the issue is such a huge step for a lot of people.

00;37;56;14 - 00;37;58;21

Tin

It would be be like, your feelings are valid.

00;37;58;28 - 00;38;29;21

Jeanne

Yes. With the trans community, there's a real problem around photo ID laws for, you know, voter ID laws. And then if you have something that's really restrictive in terms of, you have to bring in a photo ID and maybe it doesn't match your current presentation or maybe not everything is updated and, you can run into real discrimination. What are some of the obstacles to voting that maybe you've experienced or you've seen people experience or that you are aware of for the Asian-American community?

00;38;30;00 - 00;39;00;21

Tin

Yeah. So I think the biggest thing within my family and other people's families, like Asian-American families that I've talked to, is that a lot of people don't think their vote matters because they just are taught to keep your head down, don't cause any waves or anything and kind of enforcing that model minority myth, right?

Jeanne

Ah I see, yeah.

Tin

So a lot of people, there's a stigma against like advocacy and activism because then you're kind of creating waves and you're not supposed to do that.

00;39;00;27 - 00;39;24;14

Tin

You're just supposed to be like a good citizen. But being, having, standing up for other people is being a good citizen.

Jeanne

Yes.

Tin

Exactly. So it's just like they, but just that perception of, because it's been years and years and years of suppression. Right. So there's like the Chinese Exclusion Act and then there's just so many like voter acts or just like. A lot of Asian-American, they're…

00;39;24;24 - 00;39;44;03

Tin

They have distrust in the government, I believe, too, just because of the incarceration camps of Japanese-Americans. So there's just, why should we even have faith in the government when they've treated us like this for years and years and years and years? So they also maybe just don't know where to start or they're just so used to this like suppression.

00;39;44;06 - 00;39;46;06

Tin

Yeah. So that's what I've seen personally.

00;39;46;12 - 00;40;12;23

Jeanne

And the concept of marginalization that you brought up in terms of not having that connection to the country where you live as opposed to just sometimes when we talk about marginalization, we mean a lack of opportunity or we mean not being able to express our full selves. But that experience of, I do not have an actual cultural connection on any level to the country where I live.

00;40;13;05 - 00;40;29;22

Jeanne

It's going to really change in the ways that you're talking about, the degree to which you can even be involved on a civic level. And so I really appreciate that perspective and all the time and everything you've shared. Thanks so much for being on the podcast with me today.

00;40;29;22 - 00;40;32;04

Tin

Yeah, thank you for having me. This was a blast.

00;40;32;17 - 00;41;01;17

Jeanne

Thanks again to Tin Subsin for being a guest on this week's episode of The Arizona Equals Conversation. If you'd like to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast, just visit EqualityArizona.org/stories to sign up. While you're there, head on over to our events calendar: EqualityArizona.org/events. September is voter registration month for Equality Arizona and we've got a lot of great opportunities to register new voters before the October 11th deadline.

00;41;02;00 - 00;41;19;13

Jeanne

If you've been enjoying the show, please consider leaving a rating or a review on Apple Podcasts. It really helps with our rankings and that helps to share these stories with a wider audience. Thanks for listening. And don't forget to tune in next week.