This workshop provides an API-centered conversation about LGBTQIA identities, including discussion of how many of our constructions of sexuality and gender are often centered on Western understandings. This workshop will provide vocabulary around gender identity, sexual orientation, and transgender issues, discuss privilege, power, and oppression related to LGBTQIA issues, and provide space for participants to discuss LGBTQIA identities within API diasporas, centered on Japanese American identities.
Andy Su (pronouns: they/he) is a 1.5 generation Taiwanese American from New York. While in college, they organized with student of color and queer student groups to push for access and retention resources from administrators. Since graduating in 2015, they've had the privilege of serving as the community organizer for API Equality-LA. They enjoy meeting and learning with people who believe in individual and collective transformation for racial and queer justice.
Claudia Chen (pronouns: they/them) is a queer Taiwanese American community advocate who has facilitated trainings and developed curriculum for organizations such as GSA Network and ImMEDIAte Justice. She is especially invested in empowerment for marginalized communities. In her free time, she walks other people's dogs, hikes, and writes recreational poetry.
Michael’s (pronouns: he/him) hometown is Arcadia, CA. He studied Chemistry at UC San Diego and moved back to LA about a year ago. Since then, he’s been increasingly interested in education and now aspiring to become an educator in his community. His involvement with API Equality-LA started in July and he says it’s been a transformative experience. He has attended several night markets for outreach and recruitment of volunteers, and he’s currently a member of the CORE committee. He says “it’s just been a pleasure surrounding myself with passionate individuals.”
Religion, Spirituality, and Inclusion
This workshop will provide an opportunity for attendees to hear from Buddhist and Christian individuals and their personal experiences around the inclusion of LGBTQ community members within their religious and Nikkei context. Attendees will have time at the end of the panel to ask questions.
Diane Michiko Ujiiye (pronouns: she/hers) is completing a Masters in Divinity (MDiv) at Fuller Theological Seminary. Diane is the out-going executive director of Asian and Pacific Islanders California Action Network, and former chair of the California Commission on APIA Affairs. During her 20 years at the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Diane managed multi-ethnic adolescent treatment, gang intervention, HIV/AIDS prevention and training, tobacco control, and community organizing. Her civic engagement, advocacy, and cultural considerations trainings have been presented to LAUSD, Stanford University, UCLA, and the LA County Probation Department. She was recognized as one of 100 “Most Influential People” by the Los Angeles Times. In 2014, Diane received a Public Service commendation by the California State Legislature during API Heritage month.
Amy Umezu (pronouns: she/her) was born in Los Angeles, and raised in the SF Bay Area. She graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Studio Art and Communications. Amy currently works as a freelance storyboard artist in the film/tv industry. Her hobbies include drawing, reading comic books, and watching reruns of Law and Order and 80s sitcoms. Outside of her fun hobbies, one of Amy’s main interests is studying Jodo Shinshu and learning how to share the Buddha-Dharma and Compassionate Primal Vow with others.
Jessica Yamane (pronouns: she/her) identifies as a beloved child of God; she is also queer. She grew up in the shadow of the Santa Anita Racetrack, a site that served as an Assembly Center for Japanese Americans bereft of their homes, belongings, and identities under Executive Order 9066. Jessica identifies as Chinese-Japanese-American, and she sees many of the challenges her ancestors faced confronting her clients in the present day. At her day job, Jessica works as an immigration attorney for unaccompanied minors at CARECEN. Her zest for life is fueled by her faith, partner, family, and faith village, the Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles.
Reverend John Iwohara (pronouns: he/him) was born April 17, 1962, Long Beach, CA. He grew up in Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, and he participated in a bussing program traveling all the way to San Fernando Valley every day as part of LAUSD plan to desegregate schools. Rev. Iwohara graduated UCLA in 1984 with a B.A. in Psychology and in 1987, he went on to earn his M.A in Community/Social Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, located in Canada. Rev. Iwohara went on to attend Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan and obtained an M.A. in Shinshu Studies in 1990. He then continued his studies to complete the Doctorate Program in Shinshu Studies in 1993. After, Rev. Iwohara returned to the US and was assigned to temples in Fresno (1994), Vista (1996), Seattle (1998), and Venice (2002). He is currently serving at Gardena Buddhist Church.
Reverend Dr. Kevin Doi (pronouns: he/him) is a church planter and founding pastor of Epic Church in Fullerton, California. He is co-founder of JOYA Scholars, a non-profit organization inspiring and preparing students from underserved neighborhoods in Fullerton toward higher education. He has served on the boards of Solidarity and Oasis USA, global community development organizations. Kevin earned his Doctor of Ministry with distinction in Contextual Theology from Northern Seminary in Chicago and received his M.Div. from Fuller Seminary. Kevin is a D.Min adjunct professor with the Center of Asian American Theology and Ministry at Fuller Seminary.
Let’s Talk About Sex: Exploring Desire and and Consent
The focus of this workshop will be to explore the profound sense of silence around JA LGBT sexuality and explore the impact this has had on sex positivity, risk, access to resources around sexual wellness and the stigma of LGBT sex especially as informed by religious dogma. We will examine how racism, and the forced assimilation of the JA community has stripped it of its rich sex positive heritage by exploring in historical context the way sex and LGBT sex played a large part in the cultural history and imagination of Japanese cultural life. We will also examine current ways this legacy is still present in contemporary Japan and explore if this also is true for the JA community at large and JA LGBT community in particular, and if not, why is that so? The workshop will be activity based, participants will dialogue in small groups and share with each other at large. Facilitators will provide a framework, definitions and context for a rich discussion.
Dana Furuyama (pronouns: she/her) is working towards obtaining her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Southern California. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and earned her B.A. in English at the University of California, Davis with a minor in Psychology. After graduating, she spent time in Chicago working as a volunteer coordinator for a interim housing shelter for adults experiencing homelessness. She then spent time in Sacramento working as a high school youth mentor. In her free time, Dana enjoys singing her heart out at karaoke, hiking, yoga, swimming, cooking, and gardening.
Ray Fernandez (pronouns: he/him) is a mixed boy, generation yonsei, whose great-grandmother arrived from Japan through Angel island as a picture bride in 1916. He grew up in the San Gabriel valley, he has a clinical masters in psychology with a specialization in LGBT psychology. Ray has been out as a gay man for 25 years now and is radical activist and lover of all things lgbt and queer.
Nikkei LGBTQIA Organizing and Activism
This workshop will be an inspiring and collective learning space for Nikkei LGBTQIA community members and allies to harness the practice, framework, and abilities to strengthen their current organizing with greater inclusivity and intersectionality. Community members will have the opportunity to dialogue and reflect in an open roundtable fashion and small group breakouts to share and learn resources/skills/practices on how we can infuse our current organizing with greater intentionality and connection to multiple movements.
a.t. furuya (See Lunchtime Plenary for Bio)
traci ishigo (she/they) is a trauma-informed yoga teacher, USC candidate for a Master in Social Work, and multidisciplinary organizer informed by the personal, the Japanese American experience, and her work within diverse communities. traci currently organizes with the #VigilantLove network against Islamophobia and Violence, the Bridging Community Solidarity Arts Fellowship for Japanese and Muslim American college students, the Women’s Policy Institute Religious Rights in the Criminal Justice System LA County team, the Asian Pacific Islander Reentry & Inclusion through Support Empowerment program, and the AF3IRM School of Youth Activism. traci offers a weekly restorative class at People’s Yoga in East LA, as well as an all-levels gentle yoga series called “mottainai yoga” at the Japanese American National Museum on Saturday afternoons, open to the public.