Pride Profile: UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance)

UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance) Washington is a queer and trans people of color-led, grassroots organization born out of the struggles, challenges, strength, and resilience of the Queer and Trans Pacific Islander community in South King County.

We recently caught up with UTOPIA’s Community Care Program Manager, Fania Sipili, to learn a little bit more about the organization.

Tell us a little bit about UTOPIA. How does your work help champion the LGBTQIA+ community in Seattle?

Since 2009, UTOPIA has worked with Queer and Trans Pacific Islander (QTPI) leaders to create a safe, welcoming, supportive, and vibrant space for members of our community to address basic needs, build pathways toward new expanded career and life opportunities, foster a sense of common purpose, and advocate for social justice, education, and overall wellness among members of the Pacific Islander LGBTQIA+ community. UTOPIA is led and founded by women of color, identifying as transgender and/or fa’afafine. Fa’afafine is a cultural gender identity native to Samoa translated as “in the manner of a woman.” We approach community work through an intersectional and cultural lens. Our cultural identity plays an integral role in the we care and fight for the liberation of queer and trans people of color. Since its inception, UTOPIA has worked to build power and help our community members access resources, employment, stable housing, higher education, culturally competent healthcare, and more.

When you think about the work of UTOPIA, what are you most proud of?

Our greatest achievement is being able to create a space that honors every and all members of our 2LGBTQIA+ community. Being able to create a UTOPIA “headquarter” has made serving our communities more convenient and more efficient. This was made possible by our Founder, Executive Director and Fa’afafine leader Taffy Maene-Johnson who saw the need to create this space after seeing the influx of queer and trans pacific islander emigrating the Pacific Northwest in search of opportunities and the need to address the inequities in access. Our work is made possible because of our strong and passionate leader and our talented and brilliant team members here at UTOPIA Washington.

What are your hopes for the future? Both for UTOPIA and for Seattle?

We still believe in our vision statement: Creating a word of cultural wealth, dignity healing, and liberations for QTPI’s that honors our ancestors and support future generations and ourselves.

What’s on your mind as we celebrate Pride this year?

As we celebrate Pride this year, we want to amplify and uplift the work of all QTBIPOC organizations that are doing the groundwork to ensure that all members of our community are well taken care of. We would also like to center the origins of Pride month and celebrate the equal justice and equal opportunity achievements of all fierce, brilliant, queer, and trans figures that came before us. We would also like to honor every member of the LGBTQIA+ past and present.  

In honor of Pride, tell us about another individual or organization supporting Seattle’s LGBTQIA+ community that you think people should know more about and why.

Taking Black Pride seeks to empower the BIPOC transgender, queer, and gender diverse communities to take charge of the ways we own our joy, grief, healing, anger, celebration, pride, expression of culture and community. Taking Black Pride has repeatedly called out harm within the community and have been doing the great work of creating safe spaces that celebrate the unique and complex identities of BIPOC trans and queer community. They are having their annual Taking Black Pride Celebration on June 25, 2022 at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater. To learn more about this event, other activities, and to donate please visit takingblackpride.org.


Learn more about UTOPIA and their work at www.utopiawa.org.