TOBY WU is a gay Chinese American from New York City. He moved to the Bay Area over 3 years ago to study at Stanford’s Teacher Education Program and is now a first grade teacher at a new charter school in Oakland, California. His passion for education is in engaging students with how they learn about the world around them.
“When I see kids start to develop their identities, I’m reminded to step out of my own context and engage with them more on their terms. Teaching is, in part, about how we communicate what the world is without passing on our own baggage.”
Prior to teaching, Toby served in several programming roles in Asian American youth development organizations in NYC. Since coming to America when he was 8 years old, he was always made aware of his Chinese identity. Fortunately, from a young age, Toby has been surrounded by queer API mentors and friends growing up and developed a strong queer Asian identity.
At API Equality – Northern California, Toby is an interviewer and transcriber for the Dragon Fruit Project. Listening to stories of gay men who have already been in their 20’s made him question his own life as a young adult.
“There are pipelines to how we should be and who we should become, but I want to create my own, unique narrative of who I am and what kind of life I live. Dragon Fruit made me think about my own past and helped me answer those questions for myself.”
After coming out to his mom at the age of 13, Toby’s hope for the LGBTQ API community is to evolve the conversations we’ve been having. That is, to not have conversations about whether or not we have humanity, but what our humanity is like.
“I want to have conversations with my family that are more than just ‘I’m gay,’ but that negotiate what it really means for me to be gay and what it means for my parents to have a gay son. I want to extend the conversation to dating, love, and work. Conversations that more accurately reflect who I am and what experiences I have.”
Toby’s most memorable moment at API Equality – Northern California was when he volunteered for Dragon Fruit film day. Amy Sueyoshi and Tina Takamoto said they were interviewing “Helen” and when she arrived Toby was shocked to see it was actually long-time scholar and activist Helen Zia. “This is exactly why I came to the Bay Area! It’s great to feel like I am part of this extended queer Asian American community here.”