I was born in 1940 on the island of Maui. The population was very small at that time, perhaps only 30,000. My early days as a child were spent on a farm, and hard work by my parents, aunts and uncles was the norm. Life seemed to be simple and uncomplicated. After graduation from high school, I studied engineering in Oregon
When I first heard the words “gay” and “gay rights” in the 1970s, I was puzzled. I didn’t know anything about sexual orientation. I assumed that, of course, all men were physically attracted to the opposite sex. Then, in addition, gay men were also attracted to the same sex. That was too difficult for me to comprehend then, and since our family didn’t fit Freud’s concept of an overbearing mother and a cold father, I pushed the subject out of my mind.
In 1988, I saw evidence that our daughter might be gay. I asked for a family meeting with my wife and daughter while our two sons were out of the house. After some preliminaries, I asked my daughter if she was a lesbian. She was caught by surprise and I could see gears spinning in her head. She finally said yes. Although half-expecting the answer, it was still a shock to me, and a complete surprise to Ellen.
Looking back, I can compare our swirling emotions at that time to being tossed out into the open sea. We were flailing away in the water, concerned only about our survival, and not paying attention to our daughter’s well-being.
After a year and a half of emotional pain and tears, we finally found our way to a PFLAG meeting where our healing and education began. As the only Asian parents in the LA PFLAG, we soon found ourselves speaking to church groups and other organizations. Our aim was to break the silence on the issue and to state that sexual orientation was not a choice.
Though nervous at first, we were urged by our ministers to go out and speak the truth as we knew it. Eventually, supportive Asian ministers also were found. Since the Christian church has been responsible for causing the most grief, pain and suffering of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders throughout the centuries, we wanted to speak to churches. We have been invited to speak at a number of churches who wanted to learn about a topic previously treated with silence by the Asian community.
For more conservative churches, ministers are reluctant to discuss the topic of sexual orientation. They might be afraid that the devisive issue would split their church, or perhaps their jobs would be jeopardized. I therefore urge all Christians to find their own pathways in reconciling their personal religious beliefs to the reality that sexual orientation is NOT a choice.