Advocate and community leader Amazin LêThi is breaking down homophobic barriers in sport, one conversation at a time. Matthew Wade caught up with her to find out more.
Asian-Australian LGBT advocate Amazin LêThi hopes to travel the world and stamp out homophobia and transphobia in sport, in collaboration with Australian embassies and local governments.
As a child, she says she endured “terrible” bullying and homophobia, but that sport became her saviour, and now, she wants to pay that support forward.
“I started bodybuilding at six and did a lot of athletics,” she says.
“It was something I could do alone while still finding a sense of community, as my ability as an athlete wasn’t based on my sexuality or ethnicity.
“Sport gave me confidence and helped my mental wellbeing, and gave me a sense of purpose. It’s because of sport that I’m working towards accelerating sport equality for the Asian-Australian LGBT community.”
“I suffered a tremendous amount of discrimination and bullying as a child and into my teenage years,” she says.
“I understand what it feels like to be marginalised and what many rainbow youth are going through, because I’ve experienced it myself.
“Our mission [at ALF] is to campaign against social stigma and discrimination.”
As an advocate for both Asian-Australians and members of the LGBT community, she recognises that those whose identities live at the intersection of both face unique barriers.
She says language and cultural barriers can make it difficult for many in the community to straddle two separate worlds.
“The Asian community is very conformist, there is great pressure to conform and not be anything other than what your Asian family expects of you,” she says.
“Shame is also very prevalent. We have very few openly out Asian role models in the media or storylines in television or film.
“These are all contributing factors that make it difficult for Asian-Australian LGBT people to come out and be their authentic selves.”
In 2019, LêThi she will collaborate with mayors’ offices across the US, as well as Australian consulates in the US and Asia, to discuss Asian LGBT people in the athletic community.
She says it will be the first conversation of its kind in America, as she believes Asian LGBT people have historically never been part of the discussion.
She also plans to bring the conversation to Australia.
“Rainbow people are your brothers, sisters, friends, co-workers, mothers, and fathers,” she says.
“Gay or straight we all desire to live in a society free from stigma, violence, and discrimination.
“Sport is an avenue to equality, as it’s a language that everyone understands, and a catalyst to highlight the injustices that rainbow people face within the community.”
For more information about Amazin’s work, visit: www.amazinlethifoundation.org