This post is a work in progress. Am I missing someone? Please leave a comment or email me at keiko dot in dot boston [at] gmail dot com!
Last updated: 7/15/16
Woo! I'm excited to have reached post #100! When I started writing, I wasn't really sure if anyone would be interested in reading or if I'd stay interested long enough to stick with it. I started Japanese-American in Boston mainly out of frustration at the lack of any good English language resources for people looking for Japanese stuff in Boston. I had hoped that if I started writing, maybe the information would come to me. While it's true that some of my friends (and occasionally readers) do tell me things that make their way onto the blog, the main thing that's changed is that I'm more motivated to look for Japanese stuff in the area. I've discovered that there was already a lot that I just didn't know about. It's certainly helpful to finally be plugged into the local Japanese community but as it turns out my past isolation was mainly due to laziness.
Still, it can be difficult to find your way out of isolation if you don't even realize how alone you feel, why you feel alone, or don't know where to look. That's one of the reasons I wanted to write this series. Before I joined QAPA, I had never met another LGBT Japanese American. I decided to put this list together for other LGBT JAs so you'll know you're not a unicorn.
When I was looking around for well-known LGBT Japanese Americans to point to when I came out to my family, the only one I could think of was George Takei. Last year for LGBT History Month The Huffington Post came out with a list of The Most Influential LGBT Asian Icons. I was ecstatic when I saw it, but disappointed to realize there were only 7 Japanese Americans (out of 54). If they're on the list, their number will appear next to their name. Further research didn't turn up too many more people, but I'm hoping this list will grow over time.Letters in parentheses indicate (L)esbian, (G)ay, (B)isexual, (T)ransgender, GQ - genderqueer, (Q)ueer, Boi, (P)arent of an LGBT child. I recognize that some people dislike boxes. I've chosen to include these categorizations for ease of finding someone who might be like you, because I found it frustrating that it was impossible to find other JA bisexuals. If I can't find references to how someone identifies, I will not list a category. An asterisk * denotes Japanese Okinawan Americans.
This section lists public figures and spouses of public figures. My rough standard for inclusion on this list is whether someone (or their spouse) is famous enough to have a Wikipedia page or be mentioned on a Wikipedia page.
- Gregg Araki, filmmaker (B) OUT100 2014
- Miyuki Baker, mixed-media artist, activist, founder of Asian Gay & Proud (Q)
- Kim Coco Iwamoto, Esq., attorney, civil rights commissioner, LGBT activist (T) #2
- Michiyo Fukaya (born Margaret Cornell, deceased), writer, activist (L)
- Mark Kanemura, dancer (G) #16
- Kiyoshi Kuromiya (deceased), author, AIDS activist (G) #41
- Blake Oshiro*, Hawaii politician (G)
- Lia Shigemura, activist, wife of Helen Zia (L)
- Jenny Shimizu, model, actress (L) #20
- Sab Shimono, actor (G) #25
- Dr. Amy Sueyoshi, PhD*, historian, professor, author (Discover Nikkei interview), activist, board member of the GLBT Historical Society (Boi, Q)
- Mark Takano, California politician, Harvard alumnus (G) #38
- Dr. Tina Takemoto, PhD, professor, artist, author (GQ, Q)
- George Hosato Takei, actor, author, LGBT activist, Japanese American incarceration camp survivor, Internet icon (G), #1 & George was also a 2012 Huffington Post LGBT History Month Icon of the Day.
- Kenji Yoshino, Esq., author, legal scholar, professor (G)
This section lists LGBT people and their parents, and one "proud jichan" (grandpa) who are speaking out for our community. Several of these folks came to my attention through the great work of API Family Pride, which I believe may be the only organization of its kind. There are many support organizations for parents and families of LGBT people, but I believe API Family Pride is the only one that is Asian-specific.
- Marsha and Aiden Aizumi, authors of Two Spirits, One Heart (P-T)
- Ryka Aoki, writer, performer, educator (interview with ALINE Magazine) (T)
- Rev. Nobuaki, Ayako, & Mioi Hanaoka, interviewed in In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Families in the Church (P-L)
- Amy Haruyama & Akemi Harai, fought for gay marriage in California
- Kris Hayashi, activist (see Kris's Hyphen Magazine article on immigration issues for transgender people) (T)
- Honda-Phillips family: California Rep. Mike Honda, "proud jichan" of transgender granddaughter & Michelle Honda-Phillips & Travis Phillips, Honda's daughter & son-in-law & parents to Malisa), making their family's story visible and advocating for transgender equality (Jichan/P-T)
- Harold & Ellen Kameya*, fought against Prop 8 in California, contributors to Q&A Space (Harold, Ellen) (see Ellen Kameya’s poem to her lesbian daughter)(P-L)
- Lynn Nakamoto, co-founder of Asian Pacific Islander Lesbians and Gays (APLG does not seem to exist anymore), filed amicus brief on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon in Tanner v. Oregon Health Sciences University, was "first Asian American from Oregon to serve as a judge on any state or federal appellate court within Oregon" when she was appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals and the first Asian American to be appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court (L)
- Mia Nakano, "photographer, videographer, editor, web-designer, teacher, consultant, printer, writer, and social change maker," and lead artist for The Visibility Project (see Mia's profile on Asian Gay & Proud) (Q)
- Ken(ichiro) Takeuchi, "Queer Asian activist, filmmaker, audio engineer, artist" (G)
- Shawn Tamaribuchi, photographer (The Visibility Project, Female Fighter Project), filmmaker, artist, and MMA fighter
- Mia Yamamoto, attorney, LGBT activist, media commentator, Japanese American incarceration camp survivor (T)