Noel Alumit was born on January 1, 1968 in Baguio City, Philippines. Noel’s family moved to Boston when he was 2 years old when his mom got a job as a live-in nurse. He used to dance freely in preschool, and he was scouted to dance on a local TV show, which became a formative memory that drew him to the performing arts.
When Noel was 4, his family drove across the country to move to Los Angeles. Noel’s family was surrounded in LA by other immigrant working-class households, and in 1978, they moved to historic Filipinotown. LA had begun integrating schools, so Noel rode the bus every day to Bel Air to attend school. There, Noel grew to love square dancing with other students. He also joined the Asian American theater company the East West Players as a chorus boy toward the end of high school.
Noel always knew that he was gay — he remembers being attracted to male models in clothing catalogs and feeling close connections with other boys around him starting at a young age. With his frequent Lucille Ball imitations around the house, Noel often felt his father’s disapproval. His mother, on the other hand, was very accepting of him and his gay identity.
Starting at age 14, Noel began exploring cruising spots around LA, where he had his first sexual experiences. Because he had to be discreet, he was unable to seek out help when he was in dangerous situations, and sometimes felt like he was barely escaping with his life. He started visiting Peanuts, a people of color (POC) gay bar, from which he brought a boy home for the first time at age 16, claiming he was a “friend.” While he struggled with shame about his sexuality, given his Catholic upbringing, he also felt affirmed and happy to have his feelings of infatuation and sexual tension reciprocated. Fortunately, whenever he brought boyfriends home, his family was always kind and accepting towards them.
After finishing his acting degree, Noel worked full-time for the East West Players for 20 years, where he found queer and Asian community. He was unafraid to integrate his queerness with his performing arts, and served on the Asian American Subcommittee of the Screen Actors Guild and the AIDS Council of the Screen Actors Foundation. He started getting involved with Asian AIDS volunteer work, volunteering for the Charlie Brownlie Hospice for people with AIDS. He was struck to see people with AIDS dying in shame and determined to not see their loved ones, and felt a calling to teach self-love to other queer Asian people. He also became involved with the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, modeling for ad campaigns to normalize queer Asian people dating other queer Asian people.
During the 2000s, Noel started touring as a solo performer with his successful one-man show, The Rice Room: Scenes From a Bar. He also published Letters to Montgomery Clift, his novel paying homage to a closeted gay actor, which won the 2003 Stonewall Book Award from the American Library Association. That same year, he was identified as one of the Top 100 Influential Gay People by Out Magazine. Since then, Noel has continued to explore queer and POC themes in his theater and his writing. He remains an advocate for representation, and a proud, passionate voice for the queer Asian community.