Traveling home to New York City from a conference in Philadelphia last weekend, Clara Yoon cried on the bus as she read news updates from Orlando. She had just spent a weekend with her transgender son, and she said the parental worry for his safety that always exists in the back of her head came front and center as she scrolled down her news feeds.
When she got to her son's post, she knew what she needed to do.
"My son, he's a happy guy," Yoon, founder of the API project at PFLAG NYC, told NBC News. "His Facebook post was full of anger. But toward the end of it, he said 'I stand by my queer siblings and fight back, and I'm proud.' ... On Sunday evening, I kept on reading. On Monday, it just hit me: We have to give our community members a frame of thought, because otherwise people are going to be lost because this is a fear that came true."
The emotion Yoon felt turned into an open letter to the community co-written with Laurin Mayeno of Out Proud Families and Marsha Aizumi of the San Gabriel Valley API PFLAG. The letter, published by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) earlier this week stresses support for the LGBTQ, Latino, Muslim, and Asian-American communities, as well as the importance of family support, even in difficult situations.
"To parents who may not accept their children, who may struggle, one of the reason they don't accept their children is because they have a fear that the world is not safe for their children," Yoon said.
"To parents who may not accept their children, who may struggle, one of the reason they don't accept their children is because they have a fear that the world is not safe for their children."
"For the parents: I would just say to them that there are parents to understand how they feel, and we're here to support listen and provide resources," Aizumi told NBC News. "For me as a parent, I think the best way for me to overcome the fear and shame that I had was, number one, reach out for support, and two, get resources to dispel the myths and things that I had."
The letter also specifically mentions the Muslim community and stresses the importance of making sure their needs are also met.
"I also want to highlight that the this doesn't become Islamphobic," Yoon said. "That's one of the things we wanted to highlight. ... Within the Asian community, we have South Asian community members, and they have a Muslim background, and I want to make sure they're being taken care of and supported."
In addition to a show of support, the letter also includes an offer of dialogue for those who wish to speak but may not have someone to speak to. The letter includes contact information for all three authors, and NQAPIA has also published a list of resources following the shooting.
"The people I'm most worried about are LGBT people who are not out to their families or may not even be out and are already afraid of coming out," Mayeno told NBC News. "Then they get this news, and they don't have anyone to talk to because they're not out. I cannot even imagine how lonely and isolating that would be for them."