Sunday, May 19, 2013

KhushDC statement at 2013 Pride & Heritage

KhushDC recognizes Mala Nagarajan and Vega Subramaniam at D.C.’s Pride & Heritage Celebration – Statement by KhushDC President, May 18, 2013

I am lucky enough to introduce two of our honorees today, Mala Nagarajan and Vega Subramaniam. In the LGBTQ advocacy world, you have those who speak for our rights and those who take it a leap further and act on the fight for our rights. Mala and Vega are two such individuals.

Mala has served on the National Queer Asian Pacific Islanders Alliance board and was a fellow of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, where she researched leadership development and movement building in small identity-based organizations.

Vega is the executive director of the Collaborative Project of Maryland, which offers low-income Marylanders access to a respectful alternative dispute resolution process.

While living in Seattle, together with Mala, she co-founded Trikone-NW in 1997, an organization for queer South Asians in the Pacific Northwest. The two of them helped organize the DesiQ conference in San Francisco in 2006 and the NQAPIA national conference in 2009 and 2012. They are among the founding members of the Rainbow Dragon Fund, a giving circle that aims to increase social justice philanthropy supporting queer Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the DC area. For those of you who are not yet members, I recommend you look into the Rainbow Dragon Fund and the great ways it’s helping our community and its various organizations.

Importantly, Mala and Vega were one of eight couples who participated in the marriage equality lawsuit against King County and the state of Washington in 2004.  Their advocacy raised awareness to this inequality that led all the way to a public referendum that finally brought gay marriage to Washington state last year.

They have also proved to be incredibly caring, welcoming people for those of us who are new to DC and the queer advocacy world. It’s been incredibly helpful for me to get to know them these last few years. But they also took their open arms even further recently when they took in an at-risk, homeless queer teenager. They gave him a welcoming place to live and open ears to hear and help him through his problems.

Congratulations, Mala and Vega. Your willingness to act where you see inequality and to help those in need is something we cherish and I know of few people as deserving as you for this type of an award.