Have You Seen Our Fabulous Wall of Pride Exhibit?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

March 25, 2011

Have You Seen Our Fabulous Wall of Pride Exhibit?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

It Started With a Few Display Boards

You should come see it, you really should. The Wall of Pride is our most asked for program and we love putting it together. To think, it started as an afterthought to our annual banquet. Each year we organize a Family Presentation Banquet. It is an event where API LGBTs honor those family members who remain loving and caring during and after they came out. The way it works is we ask API LGBTs who want to honor someone to submit a 100-word written testimony plus a color photograph of the persons to be honored. Once submitted, we convert the testimony and photograph to a 20 X 30 inch display board: photograph on top and testimony below as caption. The boards are then prominently displayed during our banquet along with those of previous years. After seven banquets we have 45 boards.

A few years ago, we were invited to set up our booth at a diversity fair. Belinda thought it would be a good idea to bring a few boards and put them on stands in front of the booth to increase visibility and attract people. The result was amazing. People came over, read the text and asked all kinds of questions (at least, those who didn’t recoil once they figured out who we were and what we do. We have had a few of those). The Wall of Pride Exhibit was born. We began showing our boards, all of them or just some of them, in high schools, universities, conferences, workshops, and public places like Oakland’s City Hall. And as the word spread, people began to ask for them.

Then Dreamed to Make It Bigger

For a while we just showed just the boards, but eventually decided to expand the exhibit with other mementos from our banquet. We have photographs, videos, comments written in booklets we leave on tables during the banquet, and, most of all, we have emotional testimony from both the API LGBTs an the people they are honoring. We asked curators questions about how it is done. We went to exhibits to see what we liked. We brainstormed a theme by trying to answer the question: What exactly do we want to accomplish with our exhibit. Our Wall of Pride is a visual communication from API families with LGBT children to the API community and especially those in that community who fear shame and dishonor and so remain silent about their own LGBT children. It’s a shout: “Look! Despite of what you think, you are not alone!” We also want our exhibit to impart to those who view it the indescribable emotions that reign at our banquet. We still need that theme.

Now We’re Working to Make the Dream a Reality

We have some ways to go before our dream for the exhibit becomes reality. It requires more money than we have, but slowly and surely we are getting there. People are donating their time and talents to make it work. In the meantime, we show what we have. From May 2 through 6, our exhibit will be at the University of San Francisco. In return, the people there will design three banners and donate those to us when the exhibit is done. From May 9 to 14, we’ll be at Stanford. Saturday the 14th, though, is special as we are only showing the Philippine portion of our Wall of Pride for the Pilipino Youth Leadership Conference.

If you haven’t yet, come see us. Our website has the exhibit schedule as it unfolds.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

 

It’s Not Just How You Come Out, but Also Whom You Come Out To.

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

March 18, 2011

It’s Not Just How You Come Out, but Also Whom You Come Out To.

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Everybody Has Questions

We participate in a series of seminars on fund raising for nonprofit organizations. The seminar has been going on for a while and we all know each other pretty well. During the seminar we often form teams and during the last one we teamed with two people from two other nonprofits. The assigned task for which the team was formed was completed in record time and talk turned to what we do. One member of our team has a lesbian sister living in Mexico. She is out to her parents and siblings, but not to her grandmother. The question at first was: “How do you tell your grandmother?” but then turned into into: “Who should tell the grandmother, the lesbian sister or the mother?”

We Can Help . . .

We conduct a workshop on coming out. The information for the workshop comes from studies, interviews, and anecdotes collected over the years. So, for example, we say that API LGBTs hesitate to come out because they fear disappointing their parents, losing their love, getting kicked out or being ignored and silenced. Parents, on the other hand, are often confused and hurt when their child comes out to them. We know we were, we had no clue, and until our son sent us literature, we did not know where to get a clue. Our workshop talks about obstacles, strategies to overcome the obstacles, and we even have a small section on whom to come out to. Coming out to parents is usually a top priority, but we know that coming out to friends, siblings, cousins, or aunties may be easier at first and satisfying for a while. We have anecdotes where coming out to parents took years, where parents accepting also took years. Then too, we know people who never intend to come out.

. . . But You Make the Final Decision

Coming out is intensely personal and so is whom you come out to. All the ‘lessons learned’ of our workshop are generalizations from other people, not you. We have feedback that indicates that our workshop helps, but in the end the decision when, how, and to whom to come out belongs to you. If coming out to your parents seems daunting, start slow and prepare. Get to know yourself: how do you deal with conflict, what are or aren’t you comfortable with, how do you communicate, how do you react under pressure, how do you relate to other people. Prepare yourself for the inevitable questions that will come your way. Ask other LGBTs who are out to their parents what some of these questions are, or you can contact us. Finally, build a solid support network of people whom you trust, who are willing to listen and who love you for who you are. We have a friend who became active in our little nonprofit and so built her community. After awhile, she introduced her parents to other API parents with LGBT children just to show that they were not alone. All that took a couple of years and she told us it was difficult, but in the end she got her family back.

 

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org.

Those Jersey Boys Are Tying the Knot

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

March 11, 2011

Those Jersey Boys Are Tying the Knot

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Our Son Is Getting Married

A ‘save the date’ card came in the mail, a very original one. You may have seen posters for the musical Those Jersey Boys: four men standing on a white stage, their backs to the camera, each with one upraised arm in a jubilant greeting, all facing a red horizon with what looks like klieg lights above it. Well, the card is the same except there are only two men and the caption reads: “These Jersey Boys Tie the Knot. Thursday Evening, July 14. Bloomfield, New Jersey.” We are so happy, our son is getting married.

Why Is Our Son Getting Married

Our son, Lance, and his partner of fifteen years, Francis, live in New Jersey. That state was one of the first to enact domestic partnerships in July of 2004 and then, in February 2007, Civil Unions. Lance and Francis are in a civil union and thus have all the rights New Jersey bestows on married couples, but none of the 1000 or so rights the federal government bestows. So: they have been together for 15 years, they own a house together, they have all the same rights as a New Jersey married couple, and they are not going to get any federal rights. Why marry? In the first place, they don’t refer to the July 14 (their anniversary) ceremony as a wedding and they are not getting married, they are not allowed. For them, it is a commitment ceremony and they want to do it, because that is as close as they are legally allowed to come to a formal expression of mutual love. They do it because just as heterosexual couples announce their love for each other in a formal ceremony linking their lives and futures together in front of family and friends, so do Lance and Francis want to express their love for each other in front of family and friends.

What Do His Parents Think

We are ecstatic. The last of our three children to link his life publicly and with ceremony to a man whom he loves, Lance and Francis’ wedding means that all our children are a couple. We refer to the ceremony as a wedding. If it feels like a wedding, if it looks like a wedding, if it achieves a purpose like a wedding, then it is a wedding. The planned ceremony has all the pomp and circumstance we have experienced with the weddings of his brother and sister. It has a professional singer, it has rose petals strewn in the path of the couple walking with steps timed to the measures of a song toward the place where scripted vows will be exchanged, niece and nephew will bear the rings, Lance’s sister will read a careful selected, appropriate piece, Francis’ sister will do the same, there will be food and dancing and toasts. And all that in front of their family and friends. We have known Francis for a slightly shorter time than he and Lance have been together. He stays with us on his west coast antiquing trips and he has helped us furnish our house with Asian antiques. Still, it is marvelous to refer to him as our son-in-law and not to have to think twice.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

 

The Times They Are A Changing, But Very Unevenly

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

March 4, 2011

The Times They Are A Changing, But Very Unevenly

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Banquet as Milestone

We attended GAPA’s (Gay Asian Pacific Alliance) 22nd banquet last Saturday. We went to support an ally and with the intention of spending some festive times with friends and colleagues of long standing and have light conversations around a table loaded down with good food. We did that, but with the conversations came the sudden and unexpected realization that times are not just changing, but changing at wildly different rates. GAPA was born in January 1988 to, as someone at our table said, provide “a family” for gay Asian men who were isolated from their families. Back then coming out was difficult for APIs and families usually rejected those who did. GAPA was to be a safe space for socializing, community building, and becoming politically involved. Though the need for all that is still there, the need for a GAPA has lessened because a younger generation uses extensive electronic networking to do what GAPA did back then. And so, after a mere 23 years, GAPA finds itself searching for a different purpose to harness the knowledge and experience gained over the years.

Things Have Changed . . .

Before the 1969 Stonewall riots, America was virally anti-LGBT with laws on the books allowing police raids of LGBT favorite gathering places. Forty plus years later, LGBTs can serve in the military, the federal Department of Justice no longer defends the Defense of Marriage Act, states are passing laws for equal rights and marriage equality, and polls find that Americans are more and more inclined to view being LGBT as less and less unusual. June is the official gay pride month and almost every major city has a gay pride parade then. And in our own state, our attorney general urged courts to allow the resumption of same sex marriages, while courts take their time to sort out Proposition 8.

. . . But Some Things Are Still the Same

Although LGBTs can serve in the military, they do not enjoy spousal rights. Religious leaders and conservative politicians are threatening major battles to reinstate the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and to retain the Defense of Marriage Act. In some states marriage equality gains have been reversed and in others the battle has stalled. Newt Gingrich, a possible GOP candidate for president, helped raise $200,000 for a campaign to remove three Iowa supreme court judges who voted for marriage equality. And in Michigan, the state senate moved to overturn health benefits for same sex partners. And from where we sit, there will be this for a very, very long time: “How do I start a conversation with my family to tell them that I am LGBT?”

A Simile

Social justice change is like an amoeba. It is shapeless blob of cytoplasm and when it moves part of its cytoplasm flows around any obstacle in its path while the rest continues forward. Taking time to dissolve the obstacles, the amoeba’s forward progress is relentless and implacable.

 

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

Social Justice: Achieved From the Bottom Up or Top Down?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

February 18, 2011

Social Justice: Achieved From the Bottom Up or Top Down?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

From the Bottom UP

Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride exists to end the isolation of Asian and Pacific Islander families with LGBT members. We do this by providing a safe space to talk one-on-one with parents or family and education through our programs and workshops. We do it this way because there is an immediate need from those who seek answers. But this way we are only connecting with people who want to know and not with those who are convinced that being LGBT is wrong and deny their LGBT member their family’s support. Our strategy in working with individual families, working from the bottom up, is to build an ever growing community of accepting families that may serve as models for those who do not. It is a two step process: first get families to accept, then get them to testify. Sometimes the second step is more difficult than the first because that API habit of keeping shameful things within the family is strongly ingrained. Still we do have success stories.

From the Top Down

We don’t believe that just changing individual attitudes will achieve social justice. To understand this, just ask why APIs reject their LGBT children. They do so because of the shame associated with being LGBT and the consequence of that shame, namely, rejection from their ethnic community. API families live within a context of their ethnic communities and to focus on just the family ignores the impact of tradition, culture, and community on family behavior. There is a field of inquiry termed “structural racism” which we adopted and call “structural homophobia.” There are policies and practices in place that automatically cause social injustice. The denial of same sex marriage is one such structural device. What is one of the first things you fill out on an employment form? Isn’t it: Are you married? As soon as you mark “Yes” all sorts of benefits automatically accrue to you. But what if you want to be married but are not allowed, then no benefits. There are other examples where structural arrangements foster social injustice, because those structural arrangements favor the dominant group at the expense of those on the margins.

We Need to Do Bottom Up And Top Down

What Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride does at the family level is necessary but insufficient. What organizations do at the national level, for example, fight for marriage equality is necessary but also insufficient. Is there racial justice almost 150 years after the Confederacy surrendered? Does a glass ceiling exist 92 years after women achieved the right to vote? It seems to us that attitudes must change and then laws and then the work to remove all those structural remnants of previous laws that enshrined obsolete attitudes begins. Again, marriage equality provides us with a good example. Laws are on the books that prevent same sex marriage and nasty campaigns still result in the occasional ballot box victory retaining those laws. But the opposition to marriage equality is steadily eroding. The Pew Research Center reports that after 15 years of polling less then half the public opposes same sex marriage and 42% actively support it. Social justice is achieved by working from the bottom up to change attitudes and from the top down to change structures.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

 

Can Children Teach Parents? They’d Better!

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

February 11, 2011

Can Children Teach Parents? They’d Better!

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Antithesis—The Destabilizing Event

You’re sitting at the table. Seated across from you is your son or daughter. He or she just told you of their sexual orientation different from yours: he is gay or she is lesbian. You sit thunderstruck, in the time it took for them to tell you, the world as you knew it is obliterated. All you thought you knew has gone. And what they just told you, you have no way to connect with any mental or experiential frame because you don’t have one, you don’t know anything about “that stuff.” More likely, all you know is what you picked up in careless conversations with friends or from misguided clergy; all of what you know about “that stuff” is dreadful. That is why you are so totally at sea.

Thesis—Getting Your World Back Together

Now what? Actually, we have a few recommendations for you here. One, while still in the violent whirlpool of your emotions hang on to this: the person in front of you is the same person he or she was before they told you; still the person you taught how to walk and then walked to kindergarten; still the person who snuck out of the house and came home late; still the person whom you argued with and sent to college. They did not change in those few seconds it took to complete that terrible sentence. Second, ask them for patience and time so you can put your world back together, at least as much time as it took them to gather the courage to tell you. And third, begin to learn. Reach out because contrary to what you think, you are not the only API parent with LGBT children. Ask your LGBT child questions, ask them for literature. They know far more than you do, because as an API family you never talked about sex, but they had to and went some place where they could. You can also go to our website or call our hotline. We have information and contacts. But learn!

Synthesis—All Is Well With the World Again

Your learning process may take years, especially if you want to get into the details of sexual orientation and gender identity and the many gender expressions. There is a whole universe of new things to learn, but you don’t need to learn all that. Your goal is simply to accept, love and respect your son or daughter. That should not take that long for soon you will learn that to have a sexual orientation different from what is accepted as the norm is actually quite natural and has been part of the human condition since there were humans. It is also far more prevalent than you thought it was. And lo, LGBTs are not at all the schemers with an agenda to pervert the children of America. Your child will do you proud, he will achieve things to brag about to family and friends. And the nicest revelation: A child teaching parents and introducing them to a whole new world different yet the same. Now that is worth celebrating.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

Ever Wonder What Heterosexual People Experience When Introduced To the LGBT Community?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

January 28, 2011

Ever Wonder What Heterosexual People Experience When Introduced To the LGBT Community?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Today, we have a guest blogger. Her name is Rachel Heng, a high school senior. Her high school has a unique program that requires all students to complete benchmark projects if they want to graduate. While freshmen, they must complete a community oriented project; as sophomores they take on a project with a world perspective; for seniors the theme is introspection. There is no project for juniors because SATs and ACTs absorb most of their attention. There is a community service aspect to all these projects. Students do research and go out into the community to find a consultant to help answer the essential question of their project.

For her senior project Rachel chose the topic “acceptance of homosexuality within Asian and Pacific Islander families” and chose Belinda for her consultant. On January 11, Belinda and Rachel attended the “Advocacy Through Everyday Conversations” workshop in Oakland where Belinda was a panelist. What follows is Rachel’s report. It speaks for itself.

                                                                                                                                                           

Report on “Advocacy Through Everyday Conversations”

To be honest, I was really nervous for this first workshop. For one, I had never been to a workshop of any kind. What would I do there? Second of all, what if I was not welcome there? Maybe the latter was a little irrational as the workshop was open to everyone who wanted to be there, but nevertheless, I was not an LGBTQ. What if I said something tactless and insulting? What if my shallow understanding of the circumstances surrounding being an LGBT got in the way of really learning anything at the workshop? In any case, I did not have time to go through every scenario of worst cases possible because my consultant, Belinda Dronkers-Laureta and I pulled up to Emerson Elementary School, and I was past the point of no return.

After a little pre-workshop food and settling into our chairs, the workshop was nearly underway. I met a pleasant gentleman by the name of Dave Chandler. He was a speaker at the night’s event. We shook hands, and I stumbled over my words explaining that I was there with Belinda. Embarrassed, and probably red in the face, I sat down to listen to the introductions. We began with some background on our speakers who also included Andrea Shorter, Judy Appel, and, of course, Belinda Dronkers-Laureta. So, like the title of the workshop suggested, the speakers focused on conversations an LGBT might have in trying to make a straight person understand that this sexuality was as normal as any other. I never thought about it in that sense because I always just held the opinion that homosexuality was not an awkward topic to discuss. It was an eye opener.

At the workshop’s breakout session, we were supposed to introduce ourselves to the person next to us. I met a woman named Liz. Liz is currently in court fighting for custody and visitation rights of her child. Liz is also a lesbian. At the end of the workshop, I met another woman named Norma. Norma is a Chinese woman who had not talked to her family for four years – they excommunicated her because she is a lesbian. Meeting these two people made me sad because they just further confirmed what I already knew: that gay or straight people are people, and we all feel the same emotions.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

Are You Taking Every Opportunity to Tell Your Story?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

January 21, 2011

Are You Taking Every Opportunity to Tell Your Story?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Why tell your story?

Whether we are LGBT, parents, or allies we all have personal stories. Telling personal stories is an effective way to motivate others to act. People act when they connect with a social issue through their values. People formulate values based on cultural norms, but people understand and invoke their values through emotion. A personal story is a means to communicate your experience to another person in a way he or she can respond to—by connecting with their emotion. We live in times when there is an ongoing conversation about LGBT social justice issues: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, marriage equality, discriminatory immigration laws, bullying, suicides. These social conversations offer us an opportunity to tell our stories so that we can help change minds and build acceptance and respect for LGBTs.

How to tell your story.

To tell your personal story effectively, focus on key decisions, those decisions made during a crisis. For example, when did you decide to come out to your parents? Or, when did you decide to accept and respect your LGBT child? A good personal story is a series of decisions that are connected by a structure, the plot, so to speak. The structure starts with the characters involved, when and where and how the crisis occurred, the decision made and its consequences. The story is fleshed out with additional details, such as: how big a challenge was the decision? Did the decision take courage? Keep in mind that the reason to tell a personal story is to connect with another person so that that other person is motivated to act.

When to tell your story.

Whenever you have an opportunity. If you prepare for all contingencies, you create a modular story and use the individual modules depending on the opportunity. When you are invited to tell your story at a symposium, tell the full story in all its detail. When you are asked a specific question during an informal conversation, tell that part of the story that directly answers the question. For example: “What did you do when your son told you he was gay?” Answer: “I cried a lot, then I read a lot.” In many instances you gradually get to tell your whole story, over time and perhaps in an order that you did not foresee. We think this is positive; the people who are asking probably want to get involved.

Telling your story is a key way to connect with the values of others and motivate them to act. That is why religions, cultures, and even companies tell stories to communicate the values of tradition and culture. One final word: practice, practice, practice the telling of your personal story.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

How Do We Talk to Those We Should Be Talking To?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

January 14, 2011

How Do We Talk to Those We Should Be Talking To?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Our task is derived from our mission statement, which, in turn, is the answer to why we exist, namely, to keep API families together once one of theirs has come out as LGBT. How do we do that? We communicate along several channels: provide resources, conduct workshops, have one-on-ones, participate on panels, in short, we try to communicate in the full meaning of that term. We try to reach within people to cut through the tangle of cultural values that are often contradictory. We sometimes think that we are preaching to the choir. Who should we be talking to?

When a child comes out to his or her family, there are three possible basic scenarios. One, parents readily accept and life goes on as before. Two, parents are in shock and confused and seek to understand. Three, parents unequivocally reject and the family is torn apart. We try to enlist the help of the first group of parents in our work; we communicate with the second group when they come with questions; but we do not talk to third group, because they do not want to talk to us. But we should be talking to that third group.

There are several reasons why API parents reject their LGBT child. An important one is fear of being ostracized by their API community. Incidentally, that is also a reason why API LGBT children don’t want to come out to their parents; they fear bringing shame to their family and that then the family will be ostracized. If we follow the causal rope to the cause of rejection, let’s just go ahead and call it the cause of API homophobia, one strand leads to the API community to which the parents belong. So, we should be talking not only to those intransigent parents but their community as well.

We once had a volunteer identify and list the several API communities living in the Bay Area. She identified 51, the largest ones being Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, South Asian, and Vietnamese. In some of those communities no word exists for gay or lesbian and in others the words used are inaccurate. For example, in the Philippines the word “bakla’ is often used to describe a gay person. It means “man acting like a woman,” or “womanish man.” A gay person is not acting like a woman he is acting himself. How do you talk to parents who are more comfortable in their own language, but whose language does not contain words that are the subject of conversation. Would it be fair to say that if there is no word, there is no concept?

API communities in America are immigrant communities and live lives within the larger American community. There is strength and security in strongly identifying with an API community while trying to advance in the larger, American one. But that larger community also has some severe hang-ups when it comes to LGBTs. Should be we talking to that community as well? During the Proposition 8 campaign, we personally experienced the large gap that exists between the greater American community and communities of color.

We know that we need to talk to an array of individuals and communities. We are struggling with how best to do that. We ask for help from other volunteer organizations and leverage what we know with what they know. Still, it does not seem good enough. If we had the funds we would commission plays, dances, operas, paintings, poems, anything that will start a conversation with any person or group at any level. In the meantime, we do what we do and learn and improve.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org

 

The Power of Gentle Action.

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

A Trans Comes Out; We Are Still Astonished

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

28 February 2014

A Trans Comes Out; We Are Still Astonished

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

The doorbell rings. We open the door and there stands the man we were expecting, right on time. We have known him for years. We call only him when we have a specific job to do for he is the consummate craftsman, the best at what he does on the east side of the bay and probably the other side as well, but he doesn’t go there. He inherited the business from his father and has been honing what he does since he was about ten years old. Now, nearing sixty, evidence of a hard working life shows in his deeply grooved face, the calloused hands with crooked fingers, and our knowledge of his knee and shoulder operations.

He stands there smiling, but something is different. He always had his shoulder length hair in a ponytail and wore those large, gold hoop earrings, but he never shaped and shaded his eye brows or rouged his cheeks, and we definitely never saw him with painted nails festooned with nail art. He came in, went about his business and kept up the banter, but over the several days it took to complete our job, he sketched out his story.

He wants to be a woman and for over forty years of his life thought he was a freak for rejecting what the doctor said he was at birth. He kept his desire a secret. A couple of years ago he decided to remove the veil from his true gender identity. It cost him his marriage and one of his children demanded that if he wants to see his grandchildren, then he must show up and act as a man whenever he comes over.

He told us of a place in San Jose where he and others can go and be safe. They borrow or rent clothes there and dress up and are themselves. He told of married men deep in the closet who for a few hours each week lounge in this safe place expressing the identity they badly want and then, when it is time to leave, revert to the identity they must present to the world. A few hours a week being who you are the rest of the week living a lie, it must be excruciating.

All our transgender friends were introduced to us as transgender and so this was a new experience. And as we sat and talked with her we had to work at reminding ourselves that what we saw is not what she wants us to see. She wants to be a woman and wants us to see and treat her as a woman. That is what matters. But, it’ll take getting used to.

The doorbell rings. We open the door and there stands the woman we were expecting, right on time.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

 

Was That The Cracking Of A Rock We heard?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

20 September 2013

Was That The Cracking Of A Rock We heard?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

This is what Pope Francis said while talking to reporters on a flight back to Rome: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” (He spoke Italian but used the English word “gay.”) His predecessors judged. Pope Benedict wrote that homosexuality is “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” And Pope John Paul labeled homosexuality “an ideology of evil.”

The Vatican quickly explained that Pope Francis did not repudiate the Church’s stance on homosexuality. It is still wrong, but the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the head of all the Catholics in the world send a message of humility, “who am I to judge,” and so extended the most tentative of invitations to LGBTs around the world to join him and help reconcile dogma with reality.

This is big! Religious intransigence is a formidable obstacle on the road to equal justice and the monolithic religions, Catholicism and LDS Church, are the most formidable of all. This may be bigger than the Supreme Court’s decision allowing same sex marriage in California. We need laws to legitimize our actions toward inclusive justice and equality, but the work is in convincing people the law is just and fair and eliminating prejudice is the goal. That change requires the changing of a dialogue that has deep roots in religious dogma and acquired social values. It is arduous work; it will take generations.

Paula Deen is an example. She was born in 1947 and came of age when the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law. She has signed books all over the country and must have seen people of color in occupations other than servant. Yet almost 50 years after the law was passed, this former “queen” of the Food Network uttered the unbelievably racists comments in public without realizing just how racist they were. Remember the interview when she introduced Hollis Johnson, the young man in her life who is “as black as this board” gesturing toward a black backdrop and whom she invited to step forward, because “we can’t see you against that black board.”

Like Paula Deen, religious homophobes live in cocoons where their hateful speech is accepted, where regardless of the law they can fanatically dedicate themselves to political goals or religious beliefs that are the antitheses of a free and just community. But now a humble Pope cracked their protective cover ever so slightly and put their dogmas and beliefs in doubt. His message is do not judge, do not command, just try to understand. It is a small step, but large enough to measure and grow.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride: www.apifamilypride.org

 

A Student Asks: How Can API Families Become Accepting of their LGBT Children?

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

July 19, 2013

A Student Asks: How Can API Families Become Accepting of their LGBT Children?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

A high school in our town requires its senior students to complete and present a community based exit project. The student selects the topic, formulates an essential question, and then goes out into the community to find a consultant who’ll help answer the essential question. The consultant acts as a mentor for the student during the project.

Belinda mentored her third student this year. The student is a young lady who emigrated from China three years ago and her essential question was: How can the family bond of the Asian and Pacific Islander collectivist cultures become more accepting of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth? In her final report, she wrote that she became interested in this subject because of two experiences. The first experience came from a post on a “twitter-like website” from China about a Chinese gay man who came out to his parents. His coming-out turned tragic. His parents were unaccepting and the mother gathered the family, including grandparents, to try and persuade him to see a doctor to have his homosexuality “cured.” Familial pressure, and probably societal pressure as well, drove the 29-year old man to despair and he committed suicide.

The second experience came when her “best cousin” came out just to her and nobody else because she was afraid that her family would not accept her. Belinda’s student’s essential question was crafted because she wanted to help her cousin, prevent the tragedy that befell the Chinese gay man, and still keep her family together.

With the euphoria of recent legal victories still fresh in our minds and the certain knowledge that those victories will change attitudes in the long run, in the here and now we are back in the reality of overcoming the deep homophobic strain that exists in API communities. APIs respond to anything homosexual with silence and the lack of discussion perpetuates ignorance. Many APIs still believe their children “acquire the LGBT lifestyle” through exposure to lax American mores. A South Asian man told an interviewer that he didn’t want to come out to his mother in English, so he came out in his native tongue because he wanted to emphasize that being LGBT is solely about him and not about him becoming Americanized.

It wouldn’t be fair to ask an 18-year old high school senior what the answer to her essential question is, although we would dearly want to know. But we do know this: change does not happen by just changing the rules, the task is to have people accept the change in the rules. We believe that to have people accept change requires engagement, finding and parading role models, and emphasizing the role of family in API cultures.

There is progress. We and other organizations like us are engaging those who resist; there are many more API role models than ever before; and there are those API families who, though not quite accepting of their API children, still realize the importance of family bonds and do not abandon them. Perhaps small progress, but progress nevertheless. And there is this: an 18-year old girl, recently from China, a land where LGBTs are treated as outcasts, had the courage to ask the question because she wanted to keep her family together.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

 

 

What Was It Like To Be LGBT In The 1950s?

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

July 12, 2013

What Was It Like To Be LGBT In The 1950s?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

During a recent meeting, a participant introduced us to the Pye/Harris Legacy Project. Ed Pye and Bob Harris were a loving couple for fifty-eight years. Their life together ended in 2005 when Mr. Harris died. Mr. Pye passed away in 2012 but not before he co-founded the PHLP to continue their lifetime of working and giving. One area of interest to the PHLP is “equal treatment and rights for the gay and lesbian community.”

PHLP plans to make four videos collectively called the “Coming Out Series.” Two have come out already and the person who introduced us to PHLP was kind enough to send us those. You can also watch them on YouTube, just enter the titles Coming Out In the 1950s and Coming Out In the 1960s.

The 1950s one is fascinating. This generation—two high school students and a college sophomore—asks people from two, three generations ago what it was like to be gay or lesbian back then. They wonder how much more difficult it was to find other gay people, when today, though much easier, it can still be difficult. How would you identify another gay or lesbian person? Hand-signals? Secret codes? Special eye contact? How would you meet? How were LGBT communities formed?

The answers are both stirring and sad. Stirring because they are a marker of how far our community has progressed, sad because they are a marker of the anguish and despair people suffered at a time when it was illegal to be gay or lesbian. One respondent said: “I knew I was gay but had no opportunity to express that fact.” Another told of searching for friendly lesbians and not finding any. A third recounted how in college he was booted out of ROTC, because he filled out a questionnaire admitting to having “homosexual tendencies.” He was honest, but it outed him.

The 1950s is referred to as a reign of terror, a cruel period when people were treated cruelly. Gay and lesbian people were arrested, fired, thrown in jail, committed to mental institutions, subjected to electro-therapy. Police raided known gay bars and, according to one responded, also lesbian bars but the latter nowhere near as frequently. The police would swoop in, load patrons on buses, book them, throw them in jail, only drop the charges and let everybody go on Monday. But the damage was done because the three San Francisco newspapers published the names of all who were arrested and many were fired from their job as a result.

What do you do when you think you are different from everybody else and who you are is illegal? That question of community or lack thereof was for us the most depressing to hear.

Question: “How did you built a group, create a sense of community?”

Answer: “I have never felt a sense of a gay community.”

Question: “What advice would you give young LGBT people?”

Answer: “Create a community where you can feel completely safe, find a place to meet and where you are accepted . Hold each other to the very highest of expectations. Establish core values of acceptance not just tolerance. Tell as many friends as you can, friends you can tell and still keep as friends.”

Finally this: you cannot learn about anyone from watching media images and reading propositions. You have to be and participate.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

Much Work Still Confronts Us, But There Is Light At The End Of The Tunnel

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

July 5, 2013

Much Work Still Confronts Us, But There Is Light At The End Of The Tunnel

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

We learned a new word this week: mumpsimus. It means a view stubbornly held in spite of clear evidence that it is wrong. It also can refer to a person who holds such a view. Immediately, we thought how appropriate it would be to use that word for people who are still against same sex marriage despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA and Prop. 8. We wondered what the plural of mumpsimus is so we could use it on groups of people. But thinking about the great sentences we could write, we realized that we couldn’t use the word just yet. What exactly did the Supreme Court rule?

We are not lawyers, but it seems to us that the Supreme Court did not say anything about the constitutionality of same sex marriage. In the case of DOMA, the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the Federal government to refuse “to acknowledge a status [of a group of persons] the State finds to be dignified and proper.” In other words, if the State says two people are married, the Federal government cannot say they are not. Prop 8 is even less ambiguous: the people who were there to defend it, had no business defending it, leaving Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional as the final decision on the matter for now. If we understand all this correctly, marriage is the business of the state and not the federal government and Prop 8’s unconstitutionality, that is, the unconstitutionality of denying marriage to same sex couples, applies only in California.

The people who wish to preserve marriage as only between a man and woman are not going to give up. Like bamboo, they search for a crack in the concrete from which to send up shoots that eventually wrecks the structure. Thirty-seven states and limited court rulings are with them. Already we hear this argument: The Supreme Court ruled that marriage is the province of the state. The people of California have voted that marriage is only between a man and a woman, therefore there can be no same sex marriage in California. And this: The reversal of Prop 8 only applies to the two same sex couples who brought the suit, therefore only they can get married. Some of the arguments we hear and read about are incredulous, but not to those grasping at straws to preserve an outdated notion.

We are, of course, as tenacious as they are. And behind us are: two Supreme Court rulings that can be expanded upon, the only federal ruling declaring that the prohibition against same sex marriage in unconstitutional (Judge Walker’s) and that may be used as a precedent in other states, and a growing segment of America’s population that has already moved beyond he court’s ruling. The only question remaining is not if America as a country will allow same-sex marriage, but when.

The word mumpsimus originates with an illiterate priest who when celebrating mass said “quod in ore mumpsimus” instead of “quod in ore sumpsimus” (‘which we have taken into the mouth’). When a young priest tried to correct him, he retorted that he had been saying it that way for forty years and added, “I will not change my old mumpsimus for your new sumpsimus.” Its plural is mumpsimuses. We can’t wait to apply this glorious word.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

 

Let’s Celebrate Now, Tomorrow Is Time Enough To Reflect

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

June 28, 2013

Let’s Celebrate Now, Tomorrow Is Time Enough To Reflect

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

What an extraordinary week this was. The Supreme Court’s decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 are milestones that will be taught in history books to children who will wonder what the fuss was all about. They are milestones for so many who worked with implacable faith to make what can now happen, happen. Now is a time for celebration, a time for jubilation. Soon enough there will come the realization that this victory was really not quiet what we would have liked, that the court was sharply divided, that much work remains to be done, and that complacency cannot be allowed to take hold of us. But not now.

One of the highlights for us was the majestic language Justice Kennedy used to announce the decision. He read:

DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper.

. . .

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

“Entitled to recognition and protection” . . . “dignified and proper” . . . “protect in personhood and dignity,” words that much more eloquently echo what we always insisted: there is no difference between our gay son’s 16-year relationship with his partner and the relationships of his sister and brother with their partners. Theirs was allowed to be enshrined in marriage, why wasn’t his?

Another highlight came when Nancy Pelosi reacted to Michelle Bachman’s comments on the ruling (see it here). Bachman had spouted her usual inane drivel and a reporter asked Representative Pelosi for her reaction. Listening to the reporter with hands clasped in front, she unclasped her hands, raised them up, palms up, elbows tucked, in a classic gesture of indifference and said: “Who cares?”

An amazing highlight came from a Catholic priest. Monsignor Charles Pope saw the light, and proposed that the Catholic Church use the word Holy Matrimony instead of marriage. He wrote that the traditional meaning of the word marriage is being redefined and that it already no longer means what the Church wants it to mean. Instead, he suggests the Church should use “Holy Matrimony” instead of marriage. We agree. If a couple persists in believing that marriage is only between a man and a woman and wants the blessing of a God who also believes that, then find the right church, but do not impose that silliness on others.

The greatest highlights came from the faces of our friends. The sparkling eyes, the continuous smiles, the lighter steps, the joy. “We did it!” That’s right, we did. Paraphrasing Winston Churchill: Americans can be counted on to do the right thing, after they have done all the wrong things. Tomorrow is Pink Saturday and the day after that, Pride Day: Let’s really celebrate.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

 

Standing Atop A Mountain, Looking Down On Other Mountains

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

June 21, 2013

Standing Atop A Mountain, Looking Down On Other Mountains

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Next week is THE week. The Supreme Court reshapes America’s social landscape with decisions about marriage, education, and voting. Did you notice how the media is picking up the pace reporting on what is going to happen? The New York Times’ Supreme Court reporter, Adam Liptak, wrote an article that the court’s decisions would redefine the meaning of legal equality. There are two types of equality, Mr. Liptak writes, formal equality and dynamic equality.

Formal equality means that same gender couples are treated exactly the same as opposite gender couples. The LGBT community does not have formal equality. However, not all justices favor formal equality; some prefer dynamic equality, “one that takes account of the weight of history and of modern disparities.” The LGBT community doesn’t have that type of equality either, but attaining that type of equality relies more on the political process than a judicial fiat.

We sat around the dinner table and speculated right along with everybody else. What if. . . What if . . . What if the Supreme Court confines its decision to just DOMA and Prop 8 and rules both unconstitutional? If that were to happen, we believe the federal government must accept same gender marriages in states where such marriages are allowed and in California same gender marriages can once again be celebrated. That would be dynamic equality, because there are thirty-seven states that define marriage as only between a man and a woman and the ruling wouldn’t touch those laws. To change the laws in those 37 states requires a determined political push that in turn requires changing hearts and minds.

Ruling DOMA and Prop 8 unconstitutional would be a triumph, but like an army advancing too rapidly, there would be much work left to mop up large pockets of resistance. Embedded in our way of life are many state laws that contain prohibitions against LGBTs and prevent LGBTs from enjoying America’s most sublime promise: equal protection under the law. Then there are still the deeply rooted beliefs that will last for generations. At the very least, with equal protection laws to support us, these habits will become increasingly more difficult to cling to. Almost 50 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, Paula Deen is still a racist but the cost to her for being one is great.

Belinda said that having the Supreme Court rule DOMA and Prop 8 unconstitutional means that we scaled the top of a high mountain and while there will be many more mountains to scale, we can see their peaks from this one.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

Public Recognition Of Private Courage

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

June 14, 2013

Public Recognition Of Private Courage

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Tomorrow is our annual Presentation Banquet. Except for those last minute issues that always crop up, all the planning is done, booklets printed, and venue and food arranged. We thought we’d share with you testimonies from the four LGBT persons who are honoring their families.

Aditya Adiredja honors his mother and step-father, Hany and Tim Shindelus.

My mother challenged my step-father Tim’s initial discomfort with LGBT persons by focusing him on the love, instead of the genders of those who love. She succeeded, now they both are very interested in hearing about my dating life. They also support my volunteer work. Tim even allowed me to record our conversation about gay marriage for Breakthrough Conversations, a grassroots movement for equality. My mom came to API Family Pride Presentation Banquet last year and was so intrigued by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence!

My parents’ unconditional love and support are instrumental in my continued development as a gay man.

Jethro Patalinghug honors his parents Virginia and Nestor.

My parents, Nestor and Virginia Patalinghug, taught me that it isn’t difficult to accept people and think of them as equal human beings. My sexuality was not an issue for them but something they automatically knew how to handle. I never had to come out of the closet; it was a conversation they themselves initiated.

Most importantly, I honor my parents for teaching me how to become a better human being and how to navigate with pride and honor in this sometimes harsh and difficult world. My mother ensured my deep feeling for valuing equal rights. She is the greatest influence and inspiration for my activism and advocacy for LGBT Rights.

Nicole Salde honors her mother Eva.

She has always been a loving mother, supporter, companion, and number-one fan. When I came out to her 7 years ago, she was initially in shock. She didn’t know how to accept or support me. She sought advice from friends, co-workers, and family. Even though she had never talked about homosexuality, she initiated conversation when I was afraid. She helped me come out to my father and brothers. She even opened her home to me and my partner, Kira. She supports my individuality, instead of judging me for being different. My mom has taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I am truly blessed.

Lily Wong honors her whole family for their support.

To love is to release attachments and to give each other freedom to be. Coming out to my family took getting over my fears of rejection and alienation. I honor my immediate family and aunt because, in their own unique ways they have shown me that knowing I am queer doesn’t change the fact that they care for my well-being and desire for me to have the best quality of life.

Most importantly, they are learning to be at peace with my whole being and understand, support, and respect my relationship with my partner.

We are so proud of these API LGBTs and their families and the fifty that were honored in past banquets. They make API Family Pride’s work easier by example and by showing that when your child comes out, it is not the end of the world.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

 

A Change In Reality Is An Opportunity To Learn

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

June 7, 2013

A Change In Reality Is An Opportunity To Learn

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

In one of the di Rosa’s galleries in Napa, there is a piece of art that depicts a book lying on its side, on top is a saucer with a cupcake and next to the cupcake, a burnt match stick. We looked at it and tried to read what the artist is saying. We walked around it, moved closer, and suddenly realized the whole thing is made of ceramic. It was amazing. In the moment we grasped that the work was not made of real objects, but from carefully crafted ceramic, our idea of what we were seeing changed radically.

An API mother sits with her daughter, leisurely breakfasting. The daughter is home from college, and she and her mother are talking about school, the future, expectations. Then the daughter carefully tells her mother that she is a lesbian. In the moment the mother grasps what she is really hearing, the daughter in front of her changes from a beloved daughter to an unknown girl.

This is probably what people mean when they say everything is subjective. Still, it is amazing to experience an abrupt change in reality caused by a sudden awareness. It also makes the work API Family Pride does difficult. We tried to counsel parents: “The child you see in front of you, is the same child they were the second before you were told.” That doesn’t work, because it isn’t true. The sudden awareness changed the son or daughter from a person known and bragged about to one unknown and difficult to talk about. We believe, though, that in that moment begins a journey of learning.

The son or daughter in front of you represents a reality you are unprepared for, but one thing has not changed: they are still your child; start with that. They told you something fundamental about themselves, something you don’t know anything about because sex or sexuality or gender identity was not ever discussed. Your son or daughter did not offend you, on the contrary, they told you who they were because you are important in their lives and they want you to be part of their lives.

The journey of learning has but one purpose: to make come true the statement: “The child you see in front of you, is the same child they were the second before you were told.” It sounds contradictory and it is difficult, but that is where you will arrive if you make the effort. During your journey you will examine believes that you thought were true and discover that, just as the reality of your child changed when you were told they were LGBT, the believes you held dear for so long are changed and some of them no longer apply.

From our own experience we can tell you that once on the path of discovery, the insights you’ll gain bring great satisfaction. When we faltered, there were always the truths we clung to as life vests: He is our son, he does not purposely offend us. A very religious mother told us that at first she couldn’t understand why her son “wanted to be gay,” but “God made him, and God wouldn’t make him bad” was her life vest to keep learning.

One more thing, perhaps the most important thing, always maintain the conversation, make yourself approachable and keep yourself available, because here is where the child teaches the parent.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

 

Will June Bring Genderless Marriage?

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The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

May 31, 2013

Will June Bring Genderless Marriage?

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Tomorrow starts the month of June. Sometime during that month the Supreme Court renders its decision on gay marriage. Or will it? Is it not ironic that in the days leading up to the hearings, there was no way short of going on a foreign trip to escape the opinions and pontificates pouring from all the media distribution channels. Such wisdom! Then when the hearings were over: nothing!

We tried to read as many of the articles we could to get a sense of all what people were saying. There was the question of standing. When two couples sued the state of California to overturn Prop 8, both the state’s governor and attorney general agreed with the plaintiffs and refused to defend the law. So who would? A group of private citizens said they would. Do they have the legal right to do that? Five justices apparently don’t think they do and if they get together and make that their final decision the case is dismissed. But that would make same gender marriage only legal in California without setting a precedent for the other states.

Then there was the “shadow of Roe v Wade” argument. In that case the Supreme Court found that the right to an abortion is a fundamental right. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg thought that the judgment went too far too fast. Many scholars believe that the ruling stopped the democratic processes in states where the matter of abortion should be resolved and instead polarized the nation and started a cultural war that is with us still today. The justices, the shadow argument goes, will want to avoid a similar overreach.

Pundits were counting noses. Who among the justices were for Pro 8 and who against and why? It made for interesting if futile reading. This justice would be against because of his or her past record; that justice would be for because of his or her previous writings. Some believed the justices were looking for away to either wiggle out of the case altogether or to construct a ruling that would apply to the narrowest of application. Some gave up and said nobody can predict how the justices are going to decide.

We read a few articles that June’s ruling, though important, would not matter in the long run. The tide is turning against those who oppose genderless marriages. We agree, but only in principle. A ruling upholding Prop 8 would be devastating, a ruling declaring it unconstitutional would be a foundation from which to grow and blossom justice. To paraphrase Dr. King: the time is now, waiting too often means never.

We have a gay son who is in a seventeen-year committed relationship. In 2011 we wrote about his commitment ceremony, but he is not married, does not enjoy the social respect marriage still brings and does not benefit from the economic security married couples have. We think it is time to take away the ability to build a fence around a social construct that is available only to a few. If marriage is an affirmation of love and a willingness to commit, then everybody who loves should be able to marry.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org