National Coming Out Day

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day. It serves as a reminder that there are many gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender men and women who have not “come out” because they do not feel safe or comfortable doing so in their workplace, church or even in their own home.

A few months ago, while reporting on a story about Lt. Dan Choi, the soldier fighting the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, I met Harold Kameya who, along with his wife, founded a support network for Asian Pacific American parents with gay and lesbian children. “After our daughter came out to us, we suffered in tears and anguish for a year and a half,” he explained. “We then sought help at [a local] gay and lesbian center, where we learned about Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. We attended the Los Angeles PFLAG meetings, but we were the only Asians for many years.” Now, through API PFLAG, the Kameyas have provided hundreds of Asian parents and children with a culturally sensitive and supportive environment, while also helping to break the community’s silence on the issue.

I recently asked Mr. Kameya what advice he has for other API parents whose son or daughter has come out to them. He said this: “Please do not abandon your child. Learn all you can about areas you may not have studied in school and college—human sexuality and sexual orientation. Google and Wikipedia are the basic tools. Use common sense and education to find your own path in reconciling your religious beliefs to the reality that sexual orientation is not a choice.”

API PFLAG will be holding a National Coming Out Day mixer Sunday, Oct. 11, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Jia Lan Gallery (Conference Room), Ting’s Building, 701 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, Suite 298. Attendees are asked to bring a plate of finger food to share. For more info, please call Andre at (562) 697-7336 or (562) 686-1177.