Stigma, Shame, & Self | Podcast


In celebration of May as Mental Health Awareness Month and National Asian Pacific Islander History & Heritage Month, Aleks Martin surprised their audience via Northwest MHTTC with guests Boya Hua and Dr. Hieu Pham.

This month’s learning goals are to identify the social impact of stigma and shame on the “self”, and to identify tools to overcome the suffering and silence. Though the panel discussion originally aired on May 19, 2021, the following is an excerpt from the live audio recording of the webinar.

Find out more about the series here.



Aleks Martin (S/he pronouns, but they is ok) has been in the health and social service field for over 20 years. Aleks was drawn to the LGBTQI2+ community in their mid-twenties working for a national HIV-prevention study with youth called, Young Asian Men’s Study (YAMS). This exposed them to the great work of HIV workers from other organizations and how community-based programs are critical in reaching out to the most vulnerable populations. During this time, they worked as a Disease Intervention Specialist with Public Health - Seattle & King County for 7 years, including working on the pilot study for the Rapid HIV Test Kit (then a 20-minute test). A big portion of their professional career was spent at Seattle Counseling Service, a behavioral health agency for the LGBTQ community. From 2003 to 2019, Aleks started as Database Manager, Health Educator, Program Coordinator to Chemical Dependency Counselor and Addictions Program Supervisor. This was the safe space where their yearning for higher education was cultivated so they could serve their community further. As a graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Social Work - Masters Program, Aleks developed their skills as a mental health clinician and social justice advocate. Aleks’ perspectives where shifted and allowed them to have a wider lens for diversity, inclusion and equity. Aleks was inspired to start a private practice to address the special needs of the LGBTQI2+ and BBIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color), particularly Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander people dealing with unique and special issues that intersect with race/culture and gender/sexuality like coming out, spiritual conflicts, cultural dissonance, gender transition, social navigation at work and other environments, interpersonal relationships from intimacy to friendships, understanding relationships with non-LGBTQI2+ partner(s), and so on.

Boya Hua, MSW, LMHC, LSWAIC (she/her), is a licensed mental health therapist who speaks Mandarin and English. She moved to Seattle from Shanghai, China in 2015, in order to pursue her graduate study at University of Washington, School of Social Work. Back in China, she had been actively involved in community engagement and advocacy work in Chinese LGBTQ community for over six years. She founded a sexual diversity education workshop called LGBT Free Talk and co-organized ShanghaiPRIDE. She is the author of a book called Voices of LGBT in Shanghai based on interviews with 20 queer local folks in Shanghai. Currently, she provides culturally-sensitive mental health services at Seattle Counseling Service, an LGBTQ-specialized community mental health agency. She is also enthusiastic about literature, music, body movement and being close to nature.

Hieu Pham, MD, MSPH, AAHIVS (he/him), is a family physician. He was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and calls New York City his home. He was raised by a single mother. His own immigrant experience inspired him to care for immigrant and refugee communities. In New York City, he was involved with GAPIMNY, an organization that works to continue to support and empower queer and trans Asians and Pacific Islanders. It was this formative experience that continues to motivate him to work with gender diverse communities. He worked in public health before starting medical school in Chicago, and then moved to Seattle for residency in Family Medicine at Swedish Cherry Hill. Currently he works at International Community Health Services in Seattle's International District, a safety net clinic, where he primarily serves patients who are immigrants and refugees. He speaks Vietnamese, English, and Mandarin. Hieu provides full-spectrum family medicine, including obstetrical services, HIV care, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and gender affirming care. He also works at Nova Wellness Center, a school-based clinic, caring for gender diverse teens.  When not working, you can find Hieu in Seattle's International District supporting the neighborhood's restaurants or coffee shops, eating pizza, and spending time with his boyfriend.

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