Dec 2020 | LEO HEGDE

Image description: Leo is smiling outdoors along a gravely edge of a lake with hills behind him.
Image description: Leo is smiling outdoors along a gravely edge of a lake with hills behind him.

Leo (he/him & they/them) has been involved with APIENC for a little over a year. He is a member of the TJ (Trans Justice) Committee as well as one of newest members of the Core Committee.

Leo, who identifies as a South Asian transmasculine pansexual person, first heard about APIENC at the NQAPIA (National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance) National Conference back in 2018 and came across APIENC again the following year at the Creating Change Conference in Detroit. He remembers attending a workshop that APIENC led around the queer API timeline. Leo was inspired by the deep and intersecting movement histories and wanted to learn more and get involved with APIENC.

Leo studied both mechanical engineering and music at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. During his time there, he also started an affinity group called Q&A (Queer & Asian) to build community, talk and connect as a result of feeling “othered,” at a school that was predominantly white, and cis/het. He was also heavily involved with various music groups (bands, orchestras, combos) as music is one of Leo’s life passions.

After graduating over a year ago, Leo started a job as an acoustics consultant and was given the opportunity to move to the SF Bay Area. Excited about building community with other trans & queer APIs, Leo moved to the Bay in the summer of 2019.

Leo remembers the feeling of going to his first TJ meeting. He really enjoyed the people and energy they brought to the space. It was a very comforting and exciting experience for him, to be in a room with a bunch of other trans API people.

“As an individual, it can feel overwhelming. But there’s a sense of agency that comes with being a part of APIENC and working with each other to build collective change. It felt like we were doing something, and I was so excited to be a part of it.”

Needless to say, APIENC has been instrumental in helping Leo find a home and community.

This past summer, Leo was part of APIENC’s LEX (Queer Leadership Exchange) and cherishes the connection he formed with another LEX participant, his LEX buddy! Despite the challenges of a completely remote experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they quickly became close friends and on the last day of LEX, during a “learnings and reflections” moment, Leo received a big and unexpected appreciation from his new friend. “It was such a nice moment, to feel so seen and appreciated.”

Leo has quickly grown his involvement in the Bay. In March of 2020, he joined Parivar’s Advisory Committee. Leo dreams for his community and for other communities to find power, agency, connection, and belonging in the spaces where they currently feel marginalized.

Leo loves writing songs and is a multi-instrumentalist; he plays the trumpet/flugelhorn, tabla (South Asian drum), ukulele, guitar and piano. A fun fact about Leo: he likes to beatbox! In fact, he beatboxed in a South Asian fusion a cappella group in college!