By PHIL SHIGEKUNI
On Saturday, Feb. 1, Marion and I marched with PFLAG, in the Chinatown New Year’s Parade. The pictures shown were taken at the start of the parade looking south on Hill Street. The route went north from Ord Street to the freeway, then turned east and proceeded south on Broadway.
As you might tell from the pictures, it was a happy event. Reading the photo above from left to right, there are the Kameyas: daughter Valerie, Harold, Ellen and Valerie’s daughter, Lauren; Carol Mannion and her husband, William (Carol leads a support group of LGBTQ people and their families — but more on that later); my wife, Marion; Rachel So; on the other side of me is John Brady and his wife, Min Sook, who have a gay son (as you can see from the sign she is carrying); and Clara Kramer. Kneeling in front of the banner is Beverly Toyama, who has a gay son, Tory.
PFLAG is the acronym for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Harold and Ellen were founders of the L.A. Chapter of API-PFLAG 16 years ago.
As we walked the parade route, I came to realize what a triumph this event represents. When Valerie came out to Harold and Ellen 25 years ago, it created quite a turmoil for them. Although their two sons were accepting of their sister, Harold and Ellen struggled with the shame they thought this revelation brought to their family.
Their triumph over their ignorance for the sake of their beloved daughter has greatly impressed me and Marion. We have been inspired to work with them to help others in our community accept and love the LGBTQ children in their families.
Carol Mannion and her husband have a gay son. They have taken up the PFLAG banner from Harold and Ellen. Her PFLAG support group meets at the Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church in Alhambra, each fourth Sunday of the month from 3 to 5 p.m.
Midway in the parade route we saw in the crowd signs written by conservative Christians proclaiming scriptures that supposedly condemn homosexuality.
Harold and Ellen are members of the United Church of Christ in Long Beach, which includes in its motto “Open and Affirming” of LGBTQ individuals. Marion and I are members of a United Methodist Church in Chatsworth, which, along with all Methodist churches, has as its motto “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.
I wonder if those sign carriers ever paused to think about how the scriptures have been used to subjugate human beings. Scripture verses were used by slave owners to justify slavery in the South. We fought a devastating civil war over the issue. Scripture was used to justify laws that prevented interracial marriage, which was not allowed to happen until the mid-1960s. And, or course, it is being used today to argue against same-sex marriage.
When I was attending a conservative JA Christian church after the war, I remember having the scriptures used to justify our internment — the part in the New Testament about being submissive to governmental authorities as part of our Christian responsibilities.
Marion commented to me what a happy time it was for us as we walked up and down the streets of Chinatown. Yes, all things considered, indeed it was.
Phil Shigekuni writes from San Fernando Valley and can be contacted at [email protected] The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.