Alice Hom (she/they) was born on March 6, 1967 in Los Angeles, California and grew up in a working class Chinese American family. Their father was often away working in the Philippines, and their mother worked as a seamstress. Alice grew up aware that her race and gender strongly influenced how she was treated — peers at school would pull their eyes up and call her racial slurs, and she was a tomboy who presented androgynously, defying gender norms.
Alice was always interested in history, but found high school history very Eurocentric. She went to Yale University for college and pursued an Asian American studies major to study Asian American women’s stories, completing a bachelor’s thesis on Asian American feminism. At Yale, Alice met Jill, the openly lesbian ice hockey captain. Jill mentored Alice, teaching them about lesbian life. Alice also read about lesbian organizing in classes and books by and about Asian American lesbians, such as the 1986 API lesbian anthology Between the Lines and Kitty Tsui’s work. As Alice experienced romantic feelings for other women throughout college, she came out as bisexual to one sister and a small circle of friends, and received positive responses.
After graduation, Alice moved to San Francisco, wanting to explore the city’s well-known large queer and Asian populations. There, she found a supportive community, including a best friend who proudly identified as an Asian American lesbian. Over the course of a few years, Alice gradually got more comfortable dating other women, identifying as a lesbian, and being out in public. They took baby steps into community organizing and came out to all their siblings, but she did not explicitly come out to her parents. Still, they would bring girlfriends home on holidays, introducing them as a “friend.”
Alice then moved back to Los Angeles for graduate school, where they were encouraged by their Professor King Kog Chong to switch their research topic from Asian American feminism to Asian American lesbians. Alice researched and wrote about Asian American parents with queer children, was invited to give talks at Asian American studies conferences on her research and publishings on Asian American lesbians, and was approached by Temple University Press to co-edit the award-winning anthology Q&A: Queer in Asian America with David Eng, published in 1998. The anthology went beyond academic theory to the personal narratives of cultural activists, poets, artists, and more.
In 2011, Alice graduated with a PhD with a dissertation on queer women of color organizing and community-building in Los Angeles and New York from the 1960s-80s. Her mother threw them a huge graduation party with a three-tiered cake, and Alice showed up in a suit. Alice then gifted their anthology and dissertation copy to her mother, who placed the book on the family altar, showing her family ancestors how proud she was of Alice.
In 2017, noting the difficulties API queer groups have finding funding, Alice founded the giving circles Beyond 2 Cents and the API LGBTQ Giving Circle. In their OUTWORDS interview, they speak to the importance of community care. She also advises upcoming organizers and activists to understand what’s happened before while maintaining a future-oriented mindset, using history as building blocks for new possibilities.