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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 5, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 23
Japanese American Citizens League Seattle presents 'Family: An API LGBTQ Gathering'
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Japanese American Citizens League Seattle presents 'Family: An API LGBTQ Gathering'

Free conference welcomes Queer Asian/Pacific Islander youth and their families

Everyone is invited to the free all-day conference Family: An API LGBTQ Gathering geared toward LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islander youth, their families and allies, on June 13, 2015, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., at North Seattle College (9600 College Way N.). The event is sponsored by the Japanese American Citizens League, Pride Foundation, as well as local community organizations such as PFLAG, Tadaima, API Chaya, Asian Counseling and Referral Services and more.

Paul Tashima, President of the Seattle JACL chapter, said he hopes 'Family' will spark dialog and lead to support for those most vulnerable in the Asian Pacific Islander community and beyond.

'Over the last year, we've mourned casualties of the silence created within the Asian Pacific Islander community around LGBTQ issues,' Tashima said. 'Although isolation, bullying, and shame have always been problems for LGBTQ communities, cultural expectations within communities of color often magnify these issues by avoiding discussion altogether, which only makes it harder for individuals to reach out for support.'

The event is free, but requires registration either online at apifamilyevent.com or on the day of the event beginning at 9:30 a.m. at North Seattle College. Workshops offered for both LGBTQ youth/adults, as well as allies, will include: Trans 101, Social Media/Cyberbullying, Healthy Relationships, Religion, Multiracial LGBTQ Issues, Immigration, and sessions that provide more information on PFLAG and how students can start their own Gay-Straight Alliances (or reinvigorate current ones).

Keynote speakers will include nationally-renown educator and LGBTQ activist, Marsha Aizumi and her son Aiden Aizumi. The two authored a book, Two Spirits, One Heart about Aiden's transition from once coming out as a Lesbian, and ultimately, transitioning to male. Two Spirits, One Heart chronicles Marsha's personal journey from fear, uncertainty, and sadness to eventual unconditional love, acceptance, and support of her child who struggled to reconcile his gender identity.

Other featured speakers and performers include drag queen Miss Saigon Brown; Leo Segovia of the Ingersoll Gender Center which supports Transgender people in Seattle; Stephanie Nitahara, Regional Director of the Pacific Southwest District of JACL National; Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu, a seminarian and activist who works with groups such as the Gay Christian Network; Robert Shimabukuro, a longtime Asian American activist; and Kiyomi Fujikawa from API Chaya, a Seattle-based organization that seeks to end domestic violence.

The Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, which is leading the effort behind 'Family,' ultimately hopes to build an Asian Pacific Islander chapter of PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in conjunction with PFLAG Seattle to provide further services to youth and families.

'Family' is made possible by generous support from AT&T, the Pride Foundation, and a National JACL Legacy grant.

'JACL National is proud to support 'Family,' said Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director of the national Japanese American Citizens League in Washington, D.C. 'As one of the first non-LGBTQ organizations in the nation to support same-sex marriage, events like 'Family,' with their messages of acceptance and community, are a chance for supporters and members of the Nikkei (people of Japanese ancestry) LGBTQ community to listen, learn, and be inspired to greater action.'

About 'Family'
'Family: An API LGBTQ Gathering' is a free all-day conference for LGBTQ youth in the Asian and Pacific Islander community. The event stemmed from the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens' League desire to start an Asian American/Pacific Islander focused PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter in Seattle to provide cultural relevant support for both youth, as well as friends and allies. Led by Seattle JACL, 'Family' is the result of collaborative efforts and planning by groups such as Seattle PFLAG, API Chaya, Tadaima Radical Japanese Organizing in addition to support from a National JACL Legacy Grant, AT&T and The Pride Foundation.

About the JACL
The Japanese American Citizens League, the nation's oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, was founded in the 1920s to address issues of discrimination targeted specifically at persons of Japanese ancestry residing in the United States. The Seattle Chapter JACL has been unafraid to tackle difficult and, often, controversial issues related to the wartime experience of our community and other civil rights issues. While the JACL's founding mission was focused on protecting the civil rights of Americans of Japanese ancestry, today we are committed to protecting the rights of all segments of the Asian Pacific American community. www.jaclseattle.org

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