Toshio Meronek writes and makes music in San Francisco.
Who? name, age, what you identify as (or not)
Toshio Meronek, 28, queer.
What? what do you do for a living or things you would like to do.
I’m a freelance writer and a contributor to The Abolitionist, which is the newspaper of Critical Resistance–an organization that fights the prison industrial complex. I also blog about disability with my platonic soulmate, Caitlin, at whereslulu.com, and I try to make music sometimes too.
When did you come out? Any stories?
The first time I came out to someone was in junior high, after my best friend and I went to see As Good As It Gets. It was the first gay representation I’d ever seen that wasn’t, like, a Dateline story about some dude molesting a kid. I was out to people in high school, and came out to my immediate family when I was 20. I was freaked out at the time but it wasn’t a big deal afterwards. The only people I’m not out to now are my grandparents, who I don’t have much of a relationship with. They’re super-Catholic and believe being gay is, to quote my grandpa, “an abomination.”
How did coming out impact your career or relationships with others?
I don’t think it’s had a huge effect, really. My sister, who was 14 when I came out, was excited because her concept of a gay person came from watching Will and Grace, and she was like, “I’m so excited, now I have a new shopping partner!” On that point, I think media representations are important, and I keep that in mind when I’m writing–the importance of language and the political meanings behind words.
Advice you can give to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers.
If you can find a way to get past the gay and Asian shame a lot of us grow up with, do it sooner than later. I wanted to be straight and white for the longest time, and we get messages from lots of directions that that’s the best way to be. And don’t stress yourself out trying to gain the acceptance of an intolerant family, even if that means you give up being close with them. Your friends can become your family.
Listen to his music at http://www.youtube.com/user/tmeronek.
Toshio is also a contributor to the Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex book tour. Check it out!