Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
January 7, 2011
The Power of Gentle Action.
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Hello everyone! Welcome to 2011! We wish this will be a good year for all of you. For ourselves, this time of year we look forward and plan the steps to reach our goals. We also have a tradition of looking backwards and reminisce where we have been. On New Year’s Day, we reminisced with good friends in a cozy San Francisco restaurant and this story came up, as it always does because it remains powerfully etched in our memories.
Belinda was invited to come to a catholic high school one evening and present our workshop to a group of Philippine parents. We have a basic workshop that can be tailored to a number of audiences. This one was tailored to parents who may or may not have an LGBT child. A person from another organization was to deliver a talk on HIV/AIDS, but he cancelled at the last minute. Belinda asked John to substitute, not to talk about HIV/Aids, but to tell the story of Al and Jane Nakatani. So John spoke and Belinda spoke, and then it was time for Q&A.
John is sitting down slightly behind Belinda who is standing in front of the parents answering questions. All of a sudden a man from the back of the room says: “You should pray and ask God to save your son!” We get this sometimes, uninformed people firm in their religious belief that to be gay is a choice to be undone with the help of God. Our son does not need to be saved, he is happy with who he is. The man doesn’t stop with just that comment though; he gets up and begins to move toward Belinda all the while gesticulating and spouting that misguided religious mantra: God can save our son and we should ask and if we don’t we are as guilty as he is. Stuff like that. John is worried about Belinda’s safety. He gets up and as he does something else happens, something wondrous, powerful, magical. The dozen or so women in the audience rise as if one and form a protective circle around Belinda. There is no command, no signal; they just act. When the circle is formed, the two women closest to the man turn to him and begin to talk, gently, softly, but firmly. And soon the danger is averted. The man returns to his seat.
If you are waiting for us to tell you what it means, you’re going to be disappointed. We don’t know, but this memory remains an unpolished gem kept in our treasure chest with other unpolished gems that some day may reveal their meaning. Somewhere we read that Asian women are more conservative than their western counterparts and that Filipinas are the most conservative. Among the women that evening there must have been some for whom our message was contrary to all they were taught and believed in, yet something more powerful made them get up to protect. And maybe in that, this more powerful ‘something,’ is a key to overcome that deep-seated homophobia that we so often encounter.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org