Sydney Asian Lesbians (SAL) and Silk Road, the social group for Asian Gay Men, are turning 12 and 10 years old this year. In recognition of both of the groups’ long histories of support work, members from the two groups are hooking up for the first time tomorrow night.

Brothers And Sisters Come Together is a social function planned for the ACON headquarters in Commonwealth St, Surry Hills. All members, friends and interested people are invited to attend.

Since Silk Road was established, more than 5,000 men have attended social and support meetings. An off-shoot of the group, the Asian Marching Boys, have become a Mardi Gras parade crowd favourite and picked up the Best Choreography prize in recent years.

But according to ACON Asian Project Officer Matthew Hua, the Marching Boys were only one side of the Asian gay community -“ the open, flamboyant and out side.

The Silk Road support services were more for men in the early stages of accepting their sexuality and working out how that sexuality sat with their cultural identity, Hua said.

It’s almost a second outing. We come out as gay and then we sort of have to come out again in the gay scene as Asian. There are some guys who never feel comfortable with the fact they are part of a minority in the gay community, Hua told the Star.

The idea of the Brothers And Sisters Come Together function was to give gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who identify their cultural background a chance to meet people in similar circumstances, form bonds and celebrate being a part of Sydney’s strong gay and lesbian community, he said.

The family unit is really important, it’s central to Asian culture. So meeting brothers and sisters is an important part of that cultural identity. A lot of our issues around being gay and lesbian people comes from the -˜don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that persists in many of our families. We prefer not to rock the boat with our parents and family members. We keep the peace, and sometimes we don’t talk about absolutely everything, Hua said.

But the function should also be really good fun. Hua has promised great food, ice breakers and plenty of interesting, friendly people.

Brothers And Sisters Come Together will be held at ACON’s headquarters at 9 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, tomorrow night (Friday 6 September). Contact the organisers on 9206 2080 to RSVP or for more information.

And on Thursday 19 September the Midnight Shift will host Fresh -“ a fundraiser for the Asian Marching Boys Mardi Gras float and scholarships for athletes taking part in the Gay Games Asian Outreach Project. Tickets for Fresh are $8 and everyone is welcome.

ACON is also working on a special program for HIV-positive Asian men -“ to support men facing homophobia in the wider and Asian communities, racism in the gay community and dealing with HIV/ AIDS treatments -“ which should be up and running some time next year.

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