Monday, October 14, 2013

Part 2: LGBT Resources

This post is part of a three-part series. 

This post is a work in progress and will be updated as I find new resources I like. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment!
Last updated: 7/15/16

Over the course of researching how to come out to my family I was disappointed with how few resources were geared towards Japanese Americans or even Asian Americans. I'm guessing that if you've found your way to this page, you may be an LGBTQ person with Japanese or Asian ancestry. My hope is that some of the resources I found helpful in educating myself and boosting my morale, will be helpful for you and your family. Unfortunately, most of the resources and testimonials listed on this page are written by/produced by/about Caucasians and mostly deal with gays and lesbians. I apologize for the lack of diversity represented here, but it's a reflection of what's out there. I hope that over time I can find more Japanese American and Asian American-specific resources.

Need someone to talk to?
You can call The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386 24 hours a day.
You can also text and chat with them during certain hours.

Asian-Specific LGBT Organizations

There are many regional Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander LGBT groups which I've decided not to list since researching which ones are still active and then keeping the list up-to-date would be time consuming. NQAPIA's list of Alliance Members should be fairly comprehensive, but you might want to try searches with the name of your region to see if there are other organizations in your area. I do want to highlight a few organizations.

  • API Family Pride: Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride is a support organization for parents, families and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • NQAPIA: National Queen Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander organizations.
  • QAPA: Queen Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance is the nation's oldest Asian queer organization and serves New England. 
  • Even though Equality Hawaii is not Asian-specific, because of Hawaii's demographics they've produced the most videos specific to the Asian American LGBT experience (or featuring Asian Americans) of all the sites I've looked at. You may want to peruse their other resourcesvimeo channel, and TV show, Equally Speaking.
  • While Stonewall Japan is a Japan-based organization (and not Asian-specific), their website is mostly in English. Their resources and content are pretty Japan-specific, but you might come across something helpful there if you're looking for Japanese content for your parents.

Articles/Videos/Projects for Japanese & Asian Americans

Documentary about Asian children (Filipino and Chinese) coming out to their families. The entire film used to be online but parts 2 and 3 seem to have disappeared. The full video can be purchased from API Family Pride
Documentary about Christian Asian American gays and lesbians. The website for this film is gone but it is archived by the Internet Archive.
"A national portrait + video project dedicated to Queer Asian American Women, Trans, and Gender non-conforming communities." This is a fantastic photo and video project by Japanese Americans, Mia Nakano and Shawn Tamaribuchi. You can donate to their Crowdrise campaign.
This is a wonderful multilingual, multimedia project that "aspires to foster greater visibility, pride, acceptance, unity, and harmony for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asians & Pacific Islander (API) people in our families, cultural communities and beyond, no matter where we are! We believe in the power of sharing, connecting, and relating to give API families and communities the support they need when struggling with the challenges of our sexual and gender identities in the API cultural context."
"Coming out stories from Asian Pacific Islanders by API Equality-LA." "Q&A is a play on the common phrase “question and answer” and the term “queer and Asian.”" This is a great collection of essays from queer Asians, their parents, and allies.
"The Dragon Fruit Project is an inter-generational oral history project that explores queer Asian Pacific Islanders and their experiences with love and activism in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s." Japanese Americans Amy Sueyoshi and Tina Takemoto are working on this project. This project is just getting started, so materials aren't available to the public yet.
Launched in June 2014, this new section of Asian American magazine Hyphen is being produced in partnership with The Visibility Project. They are seeking volunteers.
Short film directed by Hung An Nguyen. Selected for the 2013 Boston Asian American Film Festival Short Waves: Stories Shaping Our Community program. Hung tells his story as a first generation Vietnamese American gaysian and talks about his family and in particular his relationship with his mother.
  • Heart School (ハートをつなごう学校 hāto o tsunago gakkō) - This is Japan's version of the It Gets Better Project. This may only be helpful for those who speak Japanese or whose parents speak Japanese, but I wanted to mention it, since it's so difficult to find videos of Japanese American LGBT people talking about their experiences. Heart School's website is entirely in Japanese and most of the videos are in Japanese but there are a few that aren't. You can read about it in English here.
  • I also want to mention that I've been really surprised by how LGBT-friendly NHK is (Japan's national public broadcaster). My parents saw a documentary about transgender people in Japan on NHK World. I contacted NHK and they thought it was 家族で向き合う「性同一性障害」(kazokude mukiau sei doitsusei shogai which my friend tells me translates to "Family dealing with (its member's) Gender Identity Disorder"). NHK described it as "a segment about people diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder and their families," that aired on their asaichi (あさイチ) program. Unfortunately, it isn't available online. It seems that a lot their LGBT content is on Heart Net TV (Japanese only), a variety show. I found some episodes on a subject's YouTube channel. See also: Weddings! below.

General Resources

Articles & Papers

  • What the Science Says and Doesn't Say about Homosexuality  - This great pamphlet by Soulforce, a non-profit that works to end religious and political oppression of LGBTQI people, is available for free as a pdf. 6/4/15: Soulforce updated their website this year and the pdf no longer appears to be available on their site. I've linked to a random PFLAG site that has it online. Soulforce didn't respond to my inquiry asking if it would be putting the pdf back online.

Web Videos

  • It Gets Better Project (videos tagged Asian American, although the tag is not actually that useful) - I can't tell you how helpful this project was in getting me to the point where I could come out to my family and be 100% out. Some of the videos are pretty wrenching though. Break out the tissues before you watch. Watching videos did bring a mix of emotions including guilt that I wasn't fully out. Try not to measure yourself against anyone else. Everyone has their own timetable, and as Belinda Dronkers-Laureta of API Family Pride said to me when I told her I hadn't yet come out to my extended family, "You'll know when the time is right."


    Documentary about the love between Shane Bitney Crone & Tom Bridegroom,
    a young gay couple who considered each other family, and what happened to Shane in the aftermath of Tom's accidental death because they weren't married. This film grew out of Shane's viral video "It Could Happen to You." There's some discussion of God and religion, so this would be appropriate for people who are religious, but there isn't a heavy focus on it. Check to see if your local library has it. See the trailer.
    Watch President Bill Clinton introduce Bridegroom at its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2013. Powerful stuff from the guy who once backed DOMA and DADT.
    Documentary about Boston-area LGBT senior citizens. So much of what's out there about LGBT people is about young or middle-aged people. We rarely hear the stories of seniors. Some parents might find they can relate to these folks. The film is unfortunately not available on DVD, but they stream it online periodically so you can watch it at home. You can sign up for email to find out when their next home viewing event is
    Documentary about allegedly closeted politicians who support anti-gay legislation. I found this fascinating and started thinking about homophobia in a whole new way. I also found discussion of what the closet does to you eye-opening and curiously familiar, even though I'd never felt very closeted. I got the film through my library network. 

    Resources for Christians & those with Christian Families

    Even if, like me, you're not religious, you may find these resources helpful for yourself or to share with your relatives.

    LGBT Christian Organizations

    Web Resources & Articles

    • What the Bible Says and Doesn't Say about Homosexuality - This great pamphlet by Soulforce, a non-profit that works to end religious and political oppression of LGBTQI people, is available for free as a pdf or you can purchase a booklet. 6/4/15: Soulforce updated their website this year and the pdf no longer appears to be available on their site. I've linked to a Pentecostal church that has it online, but I'm not endorsing them. Soulforce didn't respond to my inquiry asking if it would be putting the pdf back online.
    • John Shore, a straight progressive Christian blogger, writes a lot about LGBT issues and Christianity (archives on Patheos). He can be a bit strident at times, but during the early days of doing research before coming out to my family, reading his blog felt like having my own personal cheerleader.
    • I'm Christian, unless you're gay. Straight former Mormon blogger, Dan Pearce, opines about the need all of us have to feel superior to others. Single Dad Laughing, November 11, 2011.
      • Video, in which he reads a slightly edited version of the above.
      • Video with selected responses he's received (it's all text with background music). 
      • Lots of incredibly moving emails he's received from people.

    Web Videos

    Books & Films 

    by Andrew Marin of The Marin Foundation
    Andrew describes himself as a former "Bible-banging homophobe." After his three best friends came out to him within a short period of time, he moved to Chicago's gay 'Boystown' neighborhood to learn more about LGBT culture and people. The book is written to a Christian audience to explain what many LGBT people have been through, how the anti-gay rhetoric contributes to their suffering, and how they can reach out to LGBT people effectively.
    by Timothy Kurek
    A straight homophobic man from the South lives life undercover as a gay man for one year  (à la Black Like Me) to challenge his own homophobia. Some people are offended by Tim's methods, but I found it a compelling read that I couldn't put down. I think it takes a lot of strength to challenge long-held beliefs, especially when people around you don't see anything wrong with them. I imagine this book might be helpful in opening the eyes of other straight Christians who have no context for beginning to understanding what some LGBT people experience. 
    by Mel White
    The Rev. Dr. Mel White's memoir about his life as a closeted conservative Christian and his long process of coming out. For some reason I found this book therapeutic, although it's an emotionally tough read at times. 
    by Shari Johnson
    Shari's memoir about her journey from homophobic mother to embracing mother. Shari has also written some good op-eds in The Advocate: Op-ed: Confession of an Evangelical Mom and The Salt Lake Tribune: A Christian speaks: I begged God to change my gay daughter, but God changed me.
    Gays & lesbians and their Christian parents are interviewed about their coming out/acceptance journeys. I first watched it streaming on Netflix but you could also check your library network.
    For the Bible Tells Me So Study Guide 
    For those who already have the DVD, the study guide can be purchased for individual use for $5. You need to email them for the link to purchase.
    Documentary about retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first out gay bishop in Christendom. I caught part of this on PBS and then got the DVD through my library network. It moved me to tears.

    Personal Testimonials

    This is a list of testimonials that have spoken to me. I wish this list were more diverse.

    • George Takei and his husband, Brad (né Altman), discuss their wedding and marriage equality on their one year wedding anniversary (English with Japanese subtitles). Uploaded September 15, 2009. See also: Weddings! below. 
    • Joel Burns, City Councilman for District 9 for Fort Worth, Texas speaking at an October 12, 2010 city council meeting about LGBT youth suicides and his journey as a gay man. 
    • Bishop Kevin Kloosterman, a straight Mormon, speaks (transcript) about how he came to understand what the Mormon church has put its LGBT members through. November 6, 2011 at Circling the Wagons, a conference for LGBTQ Mormons and their friends, families and allies.
    • (Then) Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington explains why she is introducing a marriage equality bill and talks about her personal journey in the Q&A on January 4, 2012. 
    • An illuminating speech from Rev. Phil Snider who spoke in August 2012 at a Springfield, Missouri city council meeting in support of gay marriage by using quotes from white preachers who used the Bible to speak against racial integration in the '50s and '60s. Rev. Snider explains his speech.
    • Andy Marra, an adopted Korean American transgender woman writes about meeting her birth mom and how that gave her the courage to take the last step in her transition. The Huffington Post Gay Voices section, November 16, 2012.
    • Gary Lim & Kenneth Chee, a Singaporean gay couple currently challenging Section 377A of Singapore's Criminal Code which outlaws sex between men. They tell the story of how they met and why they're fighting to repeal the law. April 15, 2013.
    • How Evan Smith Became Vivienne Ming: An Incredible Story Of Self-Discovery - This one isn't a first-person testimonial - it's an article about Vivienne Ming, a Caucasian transgender woman who is married to a cisgender Asian American woman who was her wife before her transition. (Ming is a combination of her original last name Smith and her wife's last name, Ng.) It's a somewhat odd read since it sounds a bit like a paid advertisement for her headhunting company mixed in with the story of her transition, but it paints a picture of the sort of pain most transgender people live with before they realize that transitioning is something they have to do and shows how normal their family life is. I'm including it because it's the first portrait of an Asian American family with a transgender parent that I've come across. The Huffington Post OWN Empower Yourself section, October 12, 2013. [This article was originally published under the title Can You See The Real Me? Vivienne Ming's Incredible Story of Self-Discovery in the September 2013 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. I think the articles are identical -  I just linked to The Huffington Post because it's a single page. I hate it when articles are spread across 8 pages.]
    • Gigi Chao wrote an open letter to her billionaire dad, Cecil Chao, who wouldn't accept that she was married to a woman and offered a multi-million dollar dowry to any man in the world who could court her successfully. Nevermind that she's already married to her partner. Initially Gigi laughed off his misguided attempts to straighten her out, but then her dad doubled the dowry in January 2014. After the letter, her dad backed off. There's also a video at the bottom of the page in which Gigi talks about her Evangelical Christian mom struggling to accept her sexuality. South China Morning Post, January 28, 2014.
    • Filipino American Pastor Danny Cortez delivers a sermon on "Why I Changed My Mind On Homosexuality,"at his church, New Heart Community Church, La Miranda, California on February 9, 2014 He tells the story of his journey to acceptance and gives lessons in history and etymologies. It's rare for parents and children to come out at the same time, but Pastor Danny's revelation that he'd changed his mind on homosexuality led his son Drew to come out to him. Read his public statement and more of their story on John Shore's blog. [Please note that although this is a sermon, it's graphic at times. Pastor Danny talks about what was happening during the time period when the Bible was written and how their understanding of same sex sexual behavior was entirely different from ours. If you want to share this with someone you should definitely preview the video in full before sending it.
    • Tim Seelig, artistic director and conductor of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, writes about his past as a straight-married father and Southern Baptist minster, coming out, losing everything, and starting over. The Advocate, July 30, 2014.


    Who doesn't love a good wedding? I had no idea that some people put their wedding videos online until I was poking around YouTube a few weeks ago and came across this:

    • I was also surprised to find an NHK documentary about gay marriage (Part 1, Part 2, panel discussion Part 1, Part 2,). It tells the story of Takashi Nakamura, a Japanese man who married his Dutch partner, Michiel Witkam, in Groningen, The Netherlands, the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. The first time I watched it I was wondering where the English subtitles were since it said in the description that there were subtitles. (Click the "CC" button!) I didn't understand as much the first time I watched it, but I figured that even if you don't understand Japanese or Dutch, you can get something out of it. The way Nakamura-san's eyes crinkle after he says, "Ja, ich will," ("Yes, I will,") at his wedding speaks volumes. The Witkam-Nakamuras also made their own video for Heart School in which they discuss marriage in Japanese & English (subtitles only in Japanese).

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