S.J. Jung, a candidate running for a seat in the New York State Senate, vowed to erase images of same-sex couples from school textbooks at a meeting with Korean church groups in March, the New York Daily News reported on August 29. Jung stood by his comments late last week when he told the New York Daily News that he opposes gay marriage.

S.J. Jung is a Korean American community leader, who formerly served as president of the Minkwon Center for Community Action and ran for the state senate seat representing the Flushing district in 2014 as well as the New York City Council in 2009.

Following the New York Daily News’ report of Jung’s homophobic remarks, LGBTQ Korean American organizations, joined by allied Korean American and LGBTQ Asian American & Pacific Islander organizations, issued the following statement:

S.J. Jung’s backwards remarks about LGBTQ people are out of sync with a place as diverse as Queens, which has a vibrant LGBTQ immigrant community. As LGBTQ Korean Americans, their family members and their allies, we are deeply disappointed to see a man who has done such important work in Korean American communities express such bigotry around LGBTQ communities, marriage and public education. His harmful wish to literally erase LGBTQ people from school textbooks ignores the existence of people like us and our families, who live every day at the intersection of LGBTQ and Korean identities.

When community leaders like Jung make homophobic and transphobic remarks, it is absolutely devastating to young people in their communities who are struggling to come out. As a community leader, Jung has a moral responsibility to be a voice for these LGBTQ young people–not a megaphone for outdated bigotry.

We urge Jung to think long and hard about the damaging impact of his words, reevaluate the positions he has taken, and meet with the organizations that have signed onto this statement.

 

Organizations that have signed this statement are listed below:

  • Dari Project
  • Korean Americans United for Equality (KUE)
  • Korean American Rainbow Parents (KARP)
  • Korean Americans for Political Advancement (KAPA)
  • Asian Pacific Islander Project of PFLAG NYC
  • National Queer Asian American and Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
  • Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
  • Q-WAVE
  • Asian Pride Project

 

Mark Ro Beyersdorf, co-coordinator of the Dari Project, an LGBTQ Korean American organization in New York City, shared thoughts on the issue with ZoominKorea:

Jung’s remarks are disgraceful. He is a prominent Korean American leader and his statements carry weight in our community. When he makes remarks that reinforce the homophobia and transphobia that exists in some segments of our community, he is personally harming young Korean Americans who are struggling to come out and contributing to toxic attitudes that make life harder for all LGBTQ Korean Americans.

Ro Beyersdorf also discussed the struggles that many LGBTQ Korean Americans face within the larger Korean American community:

The harsh reality is that there are large segments of the Korean American community that are deeply homophobic and transphobic. While there are some Korean American leaders and organizations who are vocal champions of LGBTQ people–and I am deeply grateful to them–there are many more who are privately supportive of LGBTQ people but unwilling to take public stances and help shift attitudes about LGBTQ people in our community. We need more Korean American community leaders and organizations to take a stand and help lead our community forward.

 

This statement and correspondence is for educational purposes only and is strictly nonpartisan. It should in no way be construed to oppose or support any candidate for elected office.

 

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