By KYLE BRADSHAW
Continuing the company’s celebration of Pride Month, the latest Google Doodle honors Kiyoshi Kuromiya, a Japanese American activist for civil rights and gay liberation.
Kiyoshi Kuromiya was born on May 9, 1943, in Wyoming, though his family’s home was in California. At the time, tensions were high between Japan and America, and the United States put those of Japanese descent into internment camps around the country. As such, Kuromiya was born inside of the Heart Mountain concentration camp.
After living on the West Coast for most of his life, Kuromiya moved to the eastern U.S. to attend the University of Pennsylvania starting in 1961. There, Kuromiya felt a need to get involved as an activist both for human rights and antiwar efforts. Among other protest events, the next year, he participated in the Congress for Racial Equality’s sit-ins at diners in Maryland.
In 1963, Kiyoshi Kuromiya had the privilege of being in attendance for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and in time Kuromiya became one of Dr. King’s aides.
Kuromiya formally came out as gay in 1965, at the first “Annual Reminder,” a yearly protest using picket signs to remind the public of the rights that the gay community simply did not have. Four years later, after the Stonewall Riots, Kiyoshi Kuromiya helped co-found the Gay Liberation Front, a group meant to help men deal with the loneliness of having a different sexual identity.
Kuromiya continued his activism work for decades after that, including boosting public awareness of the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s all the way through to the late ’90s. Kiyoshi Kuromiya died due to cancer-related complications on May 10, 2000, at the age of 57.
To get a more in-depth look at Kuromiya’s life, be sure to check out the special exhibit from the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation on Google Arts & Culture, which includes pictures of the man himself.
The Google Doodle honoring Kiyoshi Kuromiya depicts a building in the city, painted with a mural of Kuromiya. In a vignette to the left, you can see a protest in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, while the right-side shows a phone and the Progress Pride flag.
As for why Google chose this day to honor the respected activist, Kiyoshi Kuromiya was inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor on June 4, 2019.
Editor’s note: Kiyoshi Kuromiya is the nephew of Yoshito Kuromiya (1923-2018), one of the Heart Mountain draft resisters and author of “Beyond the Betrayal: The Memoir of a WWII Japanese American Draft Resister of Conscience” (University Press of Colorado).