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Coming Out Stories, Support

Ellen Kameya’s poem to her lesbian daughter

At the end of March, I visited the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center for the event “Nikkei (of Japanese descent) intersections: An LGBTQ forum for everyone” hosted by JACL to see Harold and Ellen Kameya, RiKu Matsuda and Eric Arimoto speak on a panel to a mostly older and heterosexual/cis-gendered Japanese American audience. It was one of those events that speaks volumes about the difference between the East and West Coast Japanese communities. Here was a Japanese community of elders that were all speaking in fluent American English since they were mostly second, third or fourth generation and were involved in the Japanese American Citizens League. I grew up on the East Coast, where Japanese Americans were all my age and their parents had perhaps moved to the US for work and spoke Japanese best.

Ellen and Harold were two parents I had heard about in previous years when I first started this website because they were two Japanese parents who had an out lesbian daughter and were out and proud about it. Of course they didn’t start out with that attitude, but they joined the LA PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and then started an Asian Pacific Islander branch of PFLAG in San Gabriel Valley in the 90s. They are such an inspiration to me and to many queer Asians in the US because they seem to represent a hope that we have for our own parents to be as unashamed of our sexualities.

In any case, it was wonderful to get to know them (and the other panelists/organizers) in March. Ellen shared a poem she wrote to her daughter in ’95 which I asked her to share with the readers of Asian, Gay and Proud. Hope you’ll enjoy it :)

nikaii

Dear Valerie,

With wondrous delight we greeted you, that rainy night in October.Sixteen long hours of labor. Then…a beautiful gift from God.

Valerie Mieko, we named you Meaning: brave, beautiful, graceful child. You grew into a magical person Kind, sweet, smart and gentle.

Honors and accolades were many Throughout your years in school. Through those years you always remained Our kind, sweet, gentle daughter.

Unaware I was of your inner struggles, Unaware of your private pain. You trusted us and began to speak The truth about who you are.

Disbelief, shame, guilt and sadness. Afraid I was, for you and for me. A good life was what I wished for you, Darkness and grief was all I saw.

Patience and understanding you gave me. Your hope was for my change of heart. Over the years I have come to know Your sisters and brothers in a new community.

Thanks to you for being my teacher You have done an incredible job. I have learned that being different Is just another way of being.

I LOVE YOU!

-Mom

Ellen Kameya, PFLAG Los Angeles, 1995

 

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About Miyuki Baker

Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap. As a queer, nomadic, multi-racial/lingual female mixed-media artist activist and healer, she uses common or discarded objects, personal anecdotes, public spaces and performance to make accessible art that brings non-mainstream identities and ideas into maximum visibility. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she traveled for 14 months as a Watson Fellow to fifteen countries documenting the intersections of art and activism in queer/trans communities in blog posts and self-published magazines while making performance art. The eight magazines Miyuki created on this trip (queerscribe.com) and their strong media following exemplify her illustration/graphic design, storytelling and people skills. Her work has been featured in several magazines such as Hyphen, Broken Pencil and Knik, blogs and radio shows, well-known for their interactive and eye-catching mixed media approach to activism that utilizes both online media and on-site performance and workshops. This fall she will begin the PhD program at UC Berkeley in Performance Studies. You can follow her travels at heymiyuki.wordpress.com and email her at heymiyuki@gmail.com

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