Amplified Voices | The Year of the Rabbit
Celebrating Lunar New Year with Lauren Chan
What does Lunar New Year mean to you?
Lunar New Year is special to me because it offers me motivation to connect with my Chinese heritage. For the past few years, that’s been a goal of mine, but living away from all of my Chinese family and constantly traveling for my job can make that difficult to accomplish on the regular. For me, Lunar New Year is a reminder to support Asian-owned businesses, cook some nostalgic meals, visit Chinatown, learn something about our history, etc.
What is one of your most cherished memories of Lunar New Year?
This weekend! My parents are visiting New York for the holiday, so we had lots of celebratory plans. We ate at Bonnie’s Cantonese American restaurant in Williamsburg; spent some time at the Museum of Chinese in America's Lunar New Year Festival; and are heading to the firecracker ceremony in Manhattan's Chinatown.
In a few words, why do you celebrate the holiday?
I celebrate Lunar New Year because it's a chance to celebrate myself and my heritage. I grew up feeling embarrassed about being ethnically different than 99% of my peers; I grew up with no access to Chinese people or culture outside of my family and the restaurant they ran. Now, in New York City, Chinese culture and people are all around me—and we're cool here! That's something that would have blown my mind as a teenager. In a few words: LNY serves as a reminder to not just accept, but celebrate, who I am.
This is the year of the Rabbit, which symbolized elegance, luck, and peace. What do these words mean to you as you think about the year ahead?
The rabbit symbolizes what I hope we can all manifest for 2023: the stillness of peace with a little bit of luck from the stars. What more could we ask for?
What issues do you focus on tackling within the community?
I stand for creating a safe space where indigenous and local creatives get the representation and protection we deserve in the industry. Growing up in Hawai’i, I always felt this was missing. I want to contribute more to not only the API community, but also the LGBTQIA+ community (within API).
What does being a leader mean to you, and how do you hope to shape/impact that idea of leadership within the community?
To me, being a leader is about representing my culture and using my platform to uplift others. Whether I can make a difference through visual story-telling, calling out negative stereotypes and xenophobia – I always aim to represent me and my culture at best.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I mentioned creating a safe space for indigenous and local creatives in Hawai’i — I want my legacy to create opportunities, platforms and resources for others who have been overlooked, especially within the API/LGBTQIA+ community. I want others from Hawai’i to see what I’m doing and know they can do it too.
How do you make your voice heard?
It takes a lot of nerve, but I start by living my authentic-self as a queer person from Hawai’i that came from very humble beginnings. It is necessary to be present for your own life in order to create change. I just keep doing me and don’t compromise who I am.