The JACL Pacific Southwest District and the Church & Society Committee of Centenary United Methodist Church announce “Nikkei LGBTQ Crossroads: Our Stories,” a panel discussion to be held on Saturday, May 31, from 1 to 3 p.m at Centenary United Methodist Church, 300 S. Central Ave. (at Third Street) in Little Tokyo.
People of all generations are invited to learn more about gender, sexuality and LGBTQ (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer) stories in the Japanese American community. The panel of community members will speak to their individual experiences of navigating LGBTQ issues in the Nikkei community and in their areas of profession, as well as their hopes for LGBTQ inclusion and awareness in the future.
Following are profiles of the panelists:
• Mia Frances Yamamoto is a radical feminist Asian American transgender woman lawyer who has been practicing criminal defense in and around Los Angeles since 1974, first as a deputy public defender, then in private practice. She is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of UCLA Law School who has been involved in many professional, political and community organizations over the years, while representing, and advocating for, oppressed, marginalized and unpopular people.
• Bishop Roy I. Sano served in a variety of pastoral settings throughout his nearly 50 years as a United Methodist minister. From 1951-69, he pastored congregations located in various communities such as Oxnard, Loomis, and Los Angeles. He was a professor at Mills College in Oakland from 1969-75, and the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley from 1975-84. He was elected a bishop in the United Methodist Church in 1984, serving in the Denver (1984-1992) and Los Angeles (1992-2000) Episcopal areas. In retirement, he continues an active ministry as a noted speaker and writer.
• Eric Arimoto is a fourth-generation Japanese American gay man and a Pasadena-based marriage and family therapist intern whose clinical focus is working with LGBT persons — adults, youth, couples and groups — with special attention paid to multicultural perspectives, coming-out issues, self-esteem, relationships, existential issues, sexuality and addiction issues. He is interested in sharing his perspective that being gay and a Japanese son, brother, nephew, cousin, grandson, friend and community member are not mutually exclusive.
• riKu Matsuda, a senior intergroup relations specialist at the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, has worked in areas of youth organizing, leadership development, gender justice and sexual rights, media justice, immigrant/refugee rights and multi-ethnic community-building. For the past 10 years, Matsuda has programmed public radio at Pacifica’s 90.7 FM KPFK Los Angeles. He spends his spare time organizing for social justice and co-parenting Gingko and Sabji, two amazing pitbulls.
Eileen Ma, executive director of API Equality Los Angeles, will moderate the panel.
The organizers of the event hope that attendees will learn something new and be moved from the engaging stories of the panelists. This event is free and open to the public with refreshments provided during the reception. Donations are welcomed and will be supporting various organizations.
Email program coordinator traci ishigo at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.