As many of you might be aware already, I have been appointed to the Biden Foundation’s LGBTQ Equality Advisory Council. When I first got the call, I was both surprised and honored to even be considered. Then, I saw the list of council members, and I was also very intimidated because many of the names are amazing activists for the LGBTQ community.
Some people see me as an activist as well, but I still consider myself, first, as a mother who loves her sons. And though the work I do most visibly is for the LGBTQ community, I always feel that my voice is also supporting the Nikkei and API communities. Therefore, I am working to make the world safer for both Aiden and Stefen.
My first conference call as an official member of the Biden Foundation was a short one … 15 minutes. It was basically a welcome call from former Vice President Joe Biden. Listening to him, I felt so motivated to go out and do more, not afraid of what others are saying, but lifting my vision higher and believing I have the power to make a difference...Read More
It is a new year! Time to let go of 2017 and look forward to 2018. If 2017 was a good year, then we hope for the same in 2018. If 2017 was a bad year, we’re glad it is over and hope that 2018 will be better.
Ironically, I started my column using the words “good” and “bad,” yet I have learned that putting labels on events determines my perception of what has occurred. Last year, I put a lot of “bad” labels on things because of our political climate and the deaths that seemed to be coming at a faster and more frequent pace. Both scare me. This year, I am determined to focus my attention on just seeing the good in more things and finding wisdom in events.
Here are a couple of stories that have inspired me so far in 2018.
I was first moved by a story my son told me. Aiden works at a charter school for dropout recovery students. These students are behind in credits for various reasons: they have parents who are incarcerated, they have been expelled, they are teen parents or they have families living with financial challenges...[read more]
Every year for the past few years, our family has entered the holiday season looking forward to a day together at Disneyland. It all started because Aiden and Mary love the “Magic Kingdom” so much, and it’s a place Stefen didn’t mind taking a friend to. I wanted to share something that everyone could enjoy, and I loved having both of my sons present with their wife, girlfriend or roommates. It was a time to tell stories, laugh and be together in a place of childhood wonder.
This year, since I knew the theme for this issue is all about hope, healing and harmony, I thought I would use the backdrop of our Disneyland trip to find inspiration in my writing. Here are the thoughts that flowed through me as we wandered through our “Annual Disney Family Day.” - Read more.
Many years ago, I was in a meeting with parents and our preteen children, sharing about our relationship with each other. It started off to be just a normal meeting until my younger son, Stefen, who is normally very private, suddenly blurted out to the group that his mom yells at him a lot. This was in a meeting with families that I did not know well.
I could feel my face become red with shame, unsure of what to say or how to react. Do I discount how he feels in front of his peers or try to explain away his comment? Fortunately, Aiden was also part of that meeting and said something like, “Whose mother are you talking about? My mother hardly yells at all.” My face went from red to light pink, but I sat there in disbelief, unable to process anything that was said after Stefen’s comment...Read more.
One of the things that my work in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) area has done is brought me closer to my Nikkei roots, especially understanding the concentration camps during World War II.
My parents never talked much about their experience at Gila River. Growing up, my dad used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And so, I took their minimal conversation about camp as not having a lot of positive things to share.
But there is one area that Dad did talk about. It was the dances and the music. He played the saxophone in a band, and I know my mom loved to dance. Both of their eyes would light up when they talked about these memories. I think it was the music and the dances that shut out, for a short time, the shame and fear that surrounded them...Read more.
Recently, a dear friend passed away. It was unexpected, and it hit many of us very hard. Ross Manzo was the father-in-law to my son, Aiden. From the first moment I met him, I felt he was a good man.
Aiden and Mary were dating at the time, and Ross and his wife, Cathy, came to a PFLAG monthly support group meeting. For those who do not know, PFLAG is a chapter organization of family, friends and allies that support the LGBTQ community. It was at this meeting that I first met Ross...Read more.
Last month, I was in New York City to celebrate reaching another decade with four of my friends. Three of these friends I have known since high school, and we were roommates at one time or another in college. So, we have known each other for a long time. Aiden calls them his “aunties” because they have loved him through his transition and love him the same today.
We decided on New York because it got the most votes from all of us, and there is so much to do there. For me, it was a chance to spend time with my college friends, and they gave me the flexibility to do some advocacy work with groups in NYC, which I was so grateful for. As I returned home, I realized I learned a lot because I was open to new experiences. Here are my reflections … Read more.