Friday, December 15, 2017

A Mother’s Take: A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Mother’s Take: A Lesson From Stefen

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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Mother’s Take: ‘The Great Nisei Reunion III’

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.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Remembering Ross

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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Beautiful

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.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Agape

I never know when a moment will move my heart. The place was Fresno, Calif., and the people were from a Christian church in the area. I had been introduced to a church member, Elena Tsuchiya, by Nikiko Masumoto, who spoke at our 2016 OKAERI: A Nikkei LGBTQ Gathering. I loved Nikiko’s spirit so much when I met her that upon hearing a regional summit for API LGBTQ leaders was happening in the area she lived in, I reached out to her, so I could be around her wonderful energy again.
Elena and I talked before I came to Fresno, and she arranged a dinner for me and a few church members on the day I arrived. They were part of an Agape group formed at the church.
Agape seemed to have many definitions when I looked it up in the dictionary, but the term I liked best was “unconditional love.” - Read more

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Minidoka

On July 6, my husband and I traveled to Twin Falls, Idaho, to attend the 15th Annual Minidoka Pilgrimage. I was asked to be the opening keynote speaker. Initially, I wondered why they would ask the mother of a transgender son, whose family was not imprisoned in Minidoka, to open up the pilgrimage. But as I spoke to one of the organizers, I realized that so much of what I went through when my child came out first as lesbian and then transgender ran parallel to the feelings that our Issei and Nisei may have felt.
My strongest feelings were fear, shame and sadness, and as I listened to stories about Minidoka, I could feel those same feelings coming through in their stories...Read more

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Creating Safe Faith Communities

More than 10 years ago, Aiden was asked to leave a local Lutheran church we were attending. In the kindest voice, a visiting minister told my child that he could return when he found himself … in other words, when he was not gay. Those words pierced my son’s heart.

Aiden loved God, but on that day, he believed that God no longer loved him. He left the church and has not returned.

I left the church as well, never feeling completely safe. I was afraid for Aiden, and I was not brave enough to stay and try to change the way this church viewed the LGBTQ community.

Today, I am stronger and more determined to transform the way the faith community sees LGBTQ individuals and their families. I believe the greatest hurt to this group has come from the faith community, and I feel the world will never be safe for Aiden if churches, temples and mosques condemn those in the LGBTQ community and call them abominations... [Read More]

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Mother’s Take: A Double-Edged Sword

     Someone once told me that a positive quality could become negative if carried to the extreme. I didn’t quite understand this concept initially because I thought how could something positive become something negative. Then upon reflection, I realized how true that was.

     If I care about something too much, that could lead me to worry needlessly, be overly protective or jealous and not give others the space to grow and learn what is important for them.

     If I am generous and kind without boundaries, my life can be out of balance. How many times have I given so much of my time and energy that I get sick or become so tired I can’t enjoy time with my family?

     Our lives need balance. We must give to ourselves as much as we give to others. We need to receive in equal amounts … the love, care, support and consideration we often so generously share...[Read more]

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Second Chance: How An Educator Helped My Trans Son Find His Greatness


Recently I had the opportunity to thank someone who I believe changed the course of my child’s future. I didn’t realize it completely, until the moment when Dr. David Vannasdall walked into the room and tears began to roll down my face. He is the superintendent of a local school district and we had been brought together to film Diane Sawyer’s 20/20 Special following up on Caitlin Jenner’s story and talking about transgender issues.
But let me begin at the beginning . . . .
Ten years ago, my daughter announced to me, “I am not going back to school.” I was devastated, because she was a senior in high school and had 6 months to graduate. My position at the time was a director of educational programs for a dropout recovery charter school. And here I was faced with a child who was ready to drop out. (Read More)

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Speaking Up

Recently, I attended a book launch for “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up,” sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Los Angeles and written by Stan Yogi and Laura Atkins. Stan Yogi and I worked on Okaeri 2016 together, and I wanted to support him. I also wanted to learn more about this courageous man whose image I recently saw Google change their home page icon to on Jan. 30. This day had been chosen because in 2010, the Governor of California signed the legislative bill establishing Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. It was also Fred’s birthday. This was the first statewide day in U.S. History named after an Asian American.

What struck me deeply at this book event was that Fred’s children did not know what their father had done until they heard about him from others. He had stayed silent about his defiance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which allowed the military to imprison close to 120,000 Japanese American citizens and send them off to desolate areas of the country...(Read More)

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Taking Back My Mind

For the past three months, I have walked around in disbelief, like many of you, wondering where my country is headed. I have watched more news and commentary in the past six months than I have in the past six years. I have felt my blood boil from some of the comments and the untruths that are perpetrated by the current president. And part of me has felt so powerless, desolate and disheartened by all that is dividing our America.

I know I have written about some of my feelings regarding this election before. So, this is a continuation of my thoughts since then. Uneasiness has returned to me when I see all the hate and bigotry being bolstered by the words of the president and the people he is surrounding himself with. I am saddened when I hear my son has sleepless nights worried about his future and the future of his friends … not just LGBTQ friends, but Muslim, Latinx, black, Asian and so many others. I, too, have struggled, and many days I have had difficulty getting out of bed because I felt such despair...(Read More)