My Story As A Parent (pt.2)

Ellen Kameya

I was born and raised in Hawaii.  I was raised to believe that I was but ONE member of our huge extended family.  Everything I did (negative or positive) reflected on my entire extended family.

I attended Japanese language school and Christian Sunday school, which solidified values I was taught at home.  Life felt in sync in all areas of my life.

I had always dreamt of a comfortable life by following the values I had been taught.  Everything was great until my daughter Valerie came out to us in August 1988.  Our life was in shambles.  We needed to rebuild our family life.

When I talked to my Asian doctor about homosexuality, he said ”It’s a sin.  Your daughter is very selfish to cause you such pain.”

We were referred to the LA PFLAG by the counselor at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center in Hollywood. There I met parents and gays and lesbians who shared their stories.  I understood and became an activist in educating the public, targeting the Asian Pacific Islander community.

It was difficult in opening my mind to new ideas, but I did so and now came to new conclusions. As a parent, I learned that my fears were unfounded; there were straight allies with NO gay kids, my kid’s generation has a different understanding of LGBTs, so the problems we encounter are nil.

It was difficult overcoming the irrational fears of how our family life would change with a gay member.  It was difficult to figure out how to come out to family, extended family, Asian friends and co-workers, and the community.

People now say “Your are so brave to do what you do, going in public on such a controversial issue!”

I say, “You would do the same if it was your child.  It’s about love.”

The best thing about coming out as a parent of a gay child is the freedom to live an authentic life and not a double life.  Family and extended family can embrace me and my gay daughter and become part of the progressive movement.

Straight allies now march in the 3 parades each year:  Christopher West, Long Beach and the Lunar New Year.  Therefore, we currently march proudly with our Asian Pacific Islander GLBTs every year.

After over 20 years of advocacy, we have seen positive moves that make things better for young people. As gay people and their parents come out and demand equality, minds will be changed and legislation will follow.

Categories: Parents

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