Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Op-ed: Embracing the Role of Asian Mother to a Trans Son

“Never bring shame to our family name,” I remember one of my elders telling me when I was 10 years old, as he talked about our long line of proud ancestors, which dated back to samurai times. Almost 50 years later, when my daughter came out as a lesbian, that same voice echoed in my head, reminding me of the honor of our family name.  This elder had long ago passed away, but his words lived on.
For months, that voice drove me into the closet. I couldn’t say the word “lesbian”; in fact, it made me cringe. Publicly I walked around feeling dishonest, carrying a secret I wasn’t ready...Read More

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lovingly Holding Space

I recently read an article written about a family gathering around their mother as she was dying. I was struck by its vulnerable and loving perspective, but most of all by a concept Heather Plett called “holding space.” According to Plett’s article, “holding space” is about supporting another human being without “judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them or trying to impact the outcome.” Holding space means “we open our hearts, offer unconditional support and let go of judgment and control.”
I remember holding space for my mom when she was dying. I didn’t know that a concept like this existed, but I knew that only she was in control of her death, and all I could do was love...Read More

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Change Are You Creating?

For the past five years, my son, Aiden, his wife, Mary, and I have been attending a conference called “Creating Change.” It is hosted by the National LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) Task Force, and its purpose is to help individuals and organizations develop the skills to be grassroots organizers in their community. Six years ago, I had never heard of the organization, was just starting to understand what the “t” in LGBTQ meant and grassroots organizing seemed like something you would be talking to your gardener about.
Today, I am an activist who is in this LGBTQ movement with my whole heart, and I AM a grassroots organizer. But that is not where I started...Read More

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Grandfather's Love: Congressman Mike Honda Opens Up About His Transgender Granddaughter

Just recently, my transgender son Aiden and I attended an event near Los Angeles, California called Courageous Conversation, a one-day symposium for superintendents and school leaders that focuses on how to make schools safer for their students. This was their second annual event, and Aiden had the opportunity to share his own experiences being bullied and harassed in school. Also represented this year was Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), founder and chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, who was invited to attend and deliver the opening welcome. Unable to do so in person, he graciously sent over a video. And this is where my story really begins...Read More

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

You Never Know Who Is Watching

An inspiring story to start your new year off . . . . .
I have a friend from Ireland . . . his name is Dean. Dean and his friends like to go to karaoke bars. And when I say his friends, I mean 30 plus people, so it is almost like a party. At one karaoke bar they frequented, there was a young man who liked to sing a song by a popular boy band called Boyzone. The way he sang it just grated on Dean's nerves. First he would sing it like the lead singer of this popular band, then he would sing it imitating a gay member of this band using the most exaggerated gestures and voice, as if mocking the gay community and portraying them in a humiliating and disrespectful way.
One night Dean could not tolerate this mockery of the gay community any longer, so he walked up to the DJ, asked to borrow the microphone and faced the audience. But he was not there to sing.
"I apologize in advance for what I'm about to say...Read More

Friday, October 3, 2014

A New Perspective on Change

In a few months, I will be leaving the home I have lived in for close to 20 years: the home where my children were raised for most of their lives and the home that I considered my dream house. To be honest, I went through a period of sadness and fear because of this move. We sold the house without another place to move to. And we have decided to move from a large property with a huge front and backyard to a condo. Yes, we received a price we couldn’t turn down. Yes, we negotiated a nine-months free rental clause. And yes, we had no closing costs to pay or no buyers trampling through our house looking in every nook and cranny. It was an amazing deal, but it also meant change.
Change is hard for me. It requires that I let go of all that is familiar. I like the familiar. My co-workers would chuckle when I traveled on business because I liked not only the same hotel, but also I often even asked for the same room. It made me feel safe and comfortable...Read More

Friday, July 25, 2014

Taking Our Hearts and Voices to the Next Level

Coming back from the JACL convention in San Jose this month, I am filled with so many feelings: gratitude, increased passion to raise awareness about what Asian Pacific Islander (API) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) families experience, but most of all, I walked away as a mother with more hope in my heart for my children and our community.
First of all, I am so grateful to JACL National and all the people involved for choosing me as one of their 2014 Biennium honorees. When I look at those who have come before me and those who were also honored, I am overwhelmed and humbled to be listed with them. But without my family and so many others who have supported me, like Priscilla Ouchida, Bill Yoshino, Stephanie Nitahara, Harold and Ellen Kameya, San Fernando and Seattle JACLs, I would still be sitting at home wondering how I could even begin this journey.
As I was meeting with one of the chapters, I realized how JACL...Read More