Monthly Archives: June 2013

Thoughts on Being an Ally


Boston’s Pride Festival is this Saturday. For those of you unfamiliar with Pride, it’s a celebration of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) communities. It’s an opportunity for LGBTQ folks to celebrate their communities and for us allies to celebrate them and our connections with them. For the third year in a row, The Genki Spark has the opportunity to participate in the festival, both marching in the parade (with taiko in a truck!) and perform on the festival stage. I’ve performed at the past two and am looking forward to this celebration again this year.


I’ve been putting off writing a piece on what it means to be an ally because I wanted to put a lot of thought into what I was going to write. Since the inception of this blog, I keep telling myself that I would write this piece around this time to let my LGBTQ friends and family know that I back them for who they are, and to let other allies know that they are not the only ones. This year I’ve decided to stop putting it off and just write what’s on my mind now.

This year is extra special for me because I have taken the role of organizing my Genki sisters for this event. It’s been stressful, exciting, and all together a roller coaster (mostly in my head). I offered my time to take this position on because as an ally, I thought to myself, “I need to step-up in being an ally to my LGBTQ folks.” I have people I hold very dear to my heart that identify as queer so being an ally to the LGBTQ community means that I have to be a visible ally. I was also inspired to write this piece because I read Jason Lydon’s blog entry on being an ally to LGBTQ youth.  (If you haven’t heard of Jason Lydon, he an amazing anti-prison organizer and founder of Black & Pink, an LGBTQ-focused effort on ending the prison-industrial complex.)  As someone who also works with youth and youth of color, I applaud his being an ally to a group that is often silenced differently than other young people.  While I can write a lot about what it means to be an ally to various groups, I thought given that June is Pride month, and in line with Jason’s train of thought, I want to share with you what I will be celebrating at this year’s Pride as a loud, proud, genki LGBTQ ally:

  • All the bright colors that people will be wearing.  What a great way to show off who you are in the biggest and boldest way possible
  • Young allies- It matters that you are here and I am grateful that there will be many allies for many, many Pride festivals to come
  • LGBTQ folks of color- I march alongside you because as an ally of color I know that I only understand part of the oppression that you experience.  In order end racism we must also end all other oppressions.
  • The singing, dancing, acting, jumping, marching, laughing, crying and other expressions that are part of being human
  • My LGBTQ friends and family- I embrace and celebrate all of the beautifully perfect person you are.

Special shout-out to my fellow allies…I’ll to see you on Saturday 




Bi-Racial Cheerios Ad gets some Heat


THUMBS UP! I woke up this morning and saw news about the new Cheerios ad featuring a bi-racial family and thought ‘WOW! That’s awesome!!’ Having been raised in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic (Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, Irish) household I never saw Bi-racial Cheerios Adfamilies like mine reflected in media images so commercials or ads that feature interracial/mixed heritage families have always caught my attention.

THUMBS DOWN! It’s confirmed … racism is alive and well.  Most of the news is reporting on the racist comments YouTube and Facebook are getting as a result of the ad. Really in 2013?

Growing up in the 70’s with a white step mom and mixed siblings, I was always the one singled out when we went out to the grocery store or to the doctor’s office. People would ask if I was adopted and I would feel embarrassed or confused. I’d like to think we were past that in the year 2013 but as the writer in Jezebel points out there are plenty of examples of parents being accused of not being the parents of mixed race children, and by the way, whose business would it be if I were adopted anyway?

Ads like these are a big deal and I hope we start to see lots of them. One thing I’ve appreciated is that this ad has gotten attention and prompted discussion with groups like AddictingInfo, Colorlines, providing a little more context then simply reporting on racial comments. I look forward to the day when multi-racial, multiethnic families are normal and really no big deal and maybe some day we’ll even see gay families in the supermarket ads — now that would be a good one.