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Sammie Wills

Sammie Wills, '16

Finding a family through service

As a low-income, queer, mixed-race Pilipina person, I had never been in a space that affirmed all of my identities before I joined the Asian Pacific Island Equality – Northern California organization (APIENC).

Growing up, I was scared. I was too scared to rely on others, too scared to share parts of myself, and too scared to think that I may ever be enough.

Finding a family at APIENC allowed me the space to move beyond these fears, and trust that the people around me would be there to support the amazing work that we need to do. When I walked into work at APIENC, it was the first time I was able to feel whole and authentic in every part of who I am.

The major highlight of that work, for me, is the Dragon Fruit Project, an inter-generational oral history project that documents the stories of LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islander Activists from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. By uplifting our queer API community histories, we're breaking through the silence that is a byproduct of systematic and institutionalized oppression. When we engage with this work as interviewers, transcribers, archivists, and artists, we are creating inter-generational connections that ground us in an empowering and revolutionary historical narrative.

Check out the video of Sammie talking about the Dragon Fruit Project.


Sammie Wills, '16, majored in comparative studies in race and ethnicity.
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