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On this page are third-party educational resources that may serve as a starting point to generate greater cultural awareness and exchange of multicultural ideas. Asians & Friends Denver is not responsible for content and the following is for informative, education purposes only.

What is "GLBT"?

"GLBT" stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender.

Please click on the following links for Coming Out/GLBT information:

Developing a Positive Self Image in Young People

Please also click here to go to the Chinese section for parents which contains many resources

Coming Out Of Closet: Delighted To Be Gay

Nov 30, 2010 - Fozia Yasin

A grandmother walked up to the stage and said, "If I can be here and say that my grandson is gay so can you." She received a standing ovation at the gay parade in the city on Sunday, where almost 3,000 people turned up. Many who spoke about the discrimination they face as homosexuals.
Twenty-two-year-old Divya's real name is Dev Singh. Dev allegedly got fired from his job when his office got to know that he "wasn't straight". Presently fighting to get his job back, Dev is working as peer educator with an NGO for LGBTs. He has come all the way from Jaipur with his friend Raksha to participate in the city's gay parade. "There was no problem till I went to work like a man, but my ordeal started the day they got to know I'm gay," he said, teary eyed. Incidents of daily humiliation is something each one of them share.
Like Dev, 16-year-old Harshit (name changed) says that he quit studying when his college friends found out that he has a boyfriend. He was ostracised. "My friends bullied me. Many even called me ‘cursed'," says Harshit, dressed in a shimmering black halter dress.
A transgender from Delhi, Sonia, 25, says that her community lives at the mercy of the police. "We face a lot of harassment at the hands of police," she says.


A Parent's Perspective: Give Back Our Daughter's Right to Marry

By Harold and Ellen Kameya

Twenty-two years ago, our then 20-year old daughter Valerie told us she was gay. As Sansei from Hawaii, raised in a socially conservative Japanese American culture, Valerie's announcement devastated us. At that time, we were woefully ignorant on issues of sexual orientation, including that being gay is not a choice. As part of that ignorance, we were saddened that we would never see our daughter get married or have a family.

Fortunately, we were referred to an organization called Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). We were the only Asian Americans in PFLAG, but it became our lifeboat, guiding us in our search to understand a topic that none of our Japanese American friends or family ever spoke about.

In 1990, we were asked to share our experiences with a group of gay Asian Americans. That meeting was a turning point for us. After we spoke, we were moved by the tears on the faces of the audience. They told us of the pain that gays and lesbians faced. In turn, they opened up our minds and hearts, and we felt compelled to try to break the silence in our community. Supported by Japanese American and Anglo straight allies, clergy and churches in the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church, and PFLAG, we spoke out at conventions and to church groups and college classes.

Reaching out to the Asian American community has been difficult. We have found that our community does not like to deal with subjects that are "uncomfortable" or outside the normal scope of daily conversation. Thus, as parents of a gay daughter, we were amazed and touched when the national JACL endorsed same-sex marriages in 1994. It was a bold and courageous decision – and one that profoundly inspired us. To both of us, it was sign that our otherwise closed community might be cracking open the door ever so slightly to gays and lesbians.

Since 1994, that door has been pushed wide open. Just as the society has become more accepting of gays and lesbians, Japanese Americans and Asian Americans more generally have also become more accepting. In part, open support for gays and lesbians from community organizations, elected officials, and others as well as positive media stories have helped shift public opinion. For example, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center found that 63% of Japanese Americans voters supported marriage equality for gays and lesbians and that between 2000 and 2008, Asian American voters shifted the most in favor of marriage equality.  That support for the freedom to marry makes us very pleased. Ellen and I have been married for 44 years. We think of our own wedding day, when we publicly declared to the world our love and commitment to each other. It was a day we cherished and shared by our families and friends.

However, it was a day that I never thought our daughter Valerie would be able to celebrate.  When the California Supreme Court gave the right to marry to gays and lesbians in May 2008, our daughter gained something that is both precious and common – the basic right to marry the person of her choice. Her mother and I were thrilled that our daughter could marry!

Sadly, the passage of Proposition 8 took away that right just a few months later.  Fundamentalist church groups donated much of the funding that helped to pass Prop 8 and deny full equality to a significant group of people, including our daughter. We vow to help regain Valerie's right to marry, starting with repealing Prop 8 in California. The fight begins with building support for marriage equality in both Asian American and Christian communities – a difficult battle, but not an impossible one. But a fight that needs other parents, siblings, friends of gays and lesbians to get involved.

To get involved in the fight for marriage equality, contact API Equality-LA, www.apiequalityla.org, or Asian Pacific Islander PFLAG, apipflag@yahoo.com.

Harold and Ellen Kameya are long-time residents of Granada Hills. Harold is a retired electronics engineer and Ellen is a retired school teacher. They now devote their time to their family and supporting organizations like API PFLAG, California Faith for Equality, and API Equality-LA.


Asian American Youth, Leaders Urge a Stop to School Bullying

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and allies have come together to stop the bullying of students.

By Nalea J. Ko, Reporter
Published November 19, 2010

Thousands of YouTubers responded by creating anti-bullying videos when news headlines broke nationwide of teens committing suicide after allegedly being harassed because of their sexual orientation.

One campaign called the "It Gets Better Project," motivated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) supporters to create YouTube videos. Those supporters include President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, comedienne Kathy Griffin, singer Ke$ha and Kermit the Frog, among other big names.

Kristel Yoneda, 27, says memories of being taunted in high school with homophobic slurs like "dyke" inspired her to create an "It Gets Better" video.

"I had seen on the news all these stories about these teens committing suicide. I had remembered all the hell that I had gone through in high school. I thought, 'you know, I have a camera. Why don't I document how I feel?'" Yoneda said via telephone from her workplace in California about growing up in Hawaii.

It was the deaths of teens like Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase and Tyler Clementi that spurred Yoneda to voice her concerns on YouTube. These teens, who were perceived to be or identified as gay, were allegedly bullied and tormented before their deaths this year.

The reported bullying of these suicide victims included alleged harassment in school, online and at home. 

Yoneda explained that she assumed her friends and old high school classmates from Hawaii would view her video to better understand her experience as an LGBT teenager who was bullied.

But the Japanese American says she was surprised when she received e-mails from bully victims after posting her video on Facebook.

"I think most of the people contacted me through e-mail and then they would tell me basically how they saw my video and what they thought of it. Then they would tell me their stories. A lot of their stories were way worse than mine," Yoneda explained. "It's kind of sad to think that there are so many people out there suffering."

Yoneda essentially became an online counselor to the bully victims who contacted her. The 27-year-old corresponded with those who "needed someone to talk to or needed a friend" because they had previously endured bullying as a result of their sexual orientation.

While some praise campaigns such as "It Gets Better," others say LGBT youth need to know how to make their situation better now.

"I think for young people they want to make sure that it's not prolonged or put off until a future date, of things getting better," said Rev. Jonipher Kwong, director of API Equality-LA.

Kwong was the moderator of a Nov. 9 panel, which took place in San Gabriel Valley, Calif. Those on the three-person panel discussed bullying of LGBT students in schools and ways to combat harassment.

"There's no shame in it, both exposing the bullies and the violent behavior that goes on," Kwong said. "I think that's the other part that we as Asian Pacific Islanders need to be cognizant about is that sometimes out of fear of causing shame on our family we don't talk about these issues."

"I think the shameful part would be that if we were to live a life or a lie."

The panel, which included two Asian American youth, discussed the various laws that protect LGBT students in California.

Laws such as the Safe Place to Learn Act and the Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act are designed to provide a safe learning environment for students.

But students like 16-year-old Kimiko Nishitsuji, who was also on the panel, know that bullying often goes on despite legislation.

Nishitsuji created a video on YouTube to discuss her bullying experience in middle school in 2005. A football player started taunting her with names like "queer" and "freak," Nishitsuji explained. The taunting continued.

When the news broke that another youth had committed suicide, the Hapa teen organized a candlelight vigil to raise awareness about bullying in school.

"To be honest it really pissed me off that bullying played a role in ending six young lives," said Nishitsuji, who is the president of the GSA Network club at Gabrielino High School, about creating a vigil. "So I called a friend who also lives in the San Gabriel Valley late at night and kept pestering her to help [with the vigil]."

Nishitsuji and about 25 others held signs with the images of teen suicide victims at the Oct. 8 vigil.
Some LGBT community leaders say bully victims can make their situation better immediately by reaching out to friends, parents and officials in their schools.

"Things can get better now," said Daniel Solis, program manager of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, or GSA Network. "Students everyday in schools all over the country are standing up for themselves and making change in their schools. You don't need to wait until you get out of school to safely be yourself."

The GSA Network has created a program called "Make it Better" to help combat bullying of LGBT students.

Some 200,000 California high school and middle school students reported being harassed because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, according to a 2004 study conducted in 2004 by the California Safe Schools Coalition.

The study is in part based on a 2003 survey conducted in partnership with the GSA Network.
Yoneda says the presence of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace could create a "scary environment" for bullying victims. But she hopes others find comfort in hearing her story on YouTube.

"I mean really the people that really treated you like crap they're really not going to matter. I mean that's not just for gay kids getting bullied that's for anybody," Yoneda said. "It's hard to see that when you're in high school. But life gets so much better."


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On this page are third-party educational resources that may serve as a starting point to generate greater cultural awareness and exchange of multicultural ideas. Asians & Friends Denver is not responsible for content and the following is for informative, education purposes only.

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