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A Mother’s Take: All Are Welcome

By April 26, 2024July 8th, 2024No Comments

Marsha Aizumi

In March, my husband and I had the opportunity to speak at the San Gabriel City Council meeting. My husband graduated from the high school in this city, and so I asked him to speak, even though this is not his favorite thing to do. He would rather let me do the talking, but in this case, since he graduated from San Gabriel High School, I thought it was important that they hear from someone who lived and was educated in their city. So, I said, “Let’s both speak!”

The back story is that the San Gabriel City Council created a Health, Equity, Access Relations Commission to help with diversity, social justice, equity and safety in their community. Their goal was to raise awareness so that ALL people are respected. They hold events regarding mental health, anti-Asian hate and many other educational programs.

Recently, an All Are Welcome program was presented to support the LGBTQ+ community, and suddenly, there was a call to terminate the commission because “it is no longer needed.” With all that is going on in the world, it felt like this call for termination was based in anti-LGBTQ+ feelings or an ignorance to what is going on around the country.

Showing support at the San Gabriel City Council meeting (Photo: Courtesy of Marsha Aizumi)

A member of the HEAR Commission reached out to our PFLAG San Gabriel Valley chapter for support from parents. Hence, Tad and I decided to speak. Here is an excerpt from my speech:

My son was bullied and harassed in a high school in the San Gabriel Valley. I watched my son struggle every day … his grades go from As and Bs to Ds. He barely graduated. He was also suicidal, but I am a fortunate parent because he never lost hope (I started to cry here).

One of the ways our children live in hope is to see others who are advocating and sending messages that their lives matter. This is what the HEAR Commission is doing. Bringing hope. And with hope comes resilience.

For almost two hours, public comments were given. For every negative comment, there were four positive comments of support for the All Are Welcome program and the HEAR Commission. Besides parents speaking, there were students who came to support and many students who wrote in to have their thoughts read aloud at the meeting, since they were away at college. If these young people are an indication of our future, the country will be in good hands.

In the end, we do not know if our words and thoughts made a difference. But to me, the most important thing was that we stood up and made our voices heard. Were there LGBTQ+ individuals that were present and needed to see this overwhelming support for them? Were there parents who are hiding in fear and shame that needed to hear other parents that were supportive and proud of their children?

I watched with pride as my husband spoke. He was very nervous, but I know that he pushed through his fears to speak up for his son. Aiden, you would have been so proud of Papa.

I love an early 2000s TV show called “The West Wing.” It is a political drama written by an amazing writer, Aaron Sorkin. In one of the episodes in Season 1, I heard this line and have never forgotten it: “Decisions are made by people who show up.”

Tad and I showed up that night along with so many other parents, LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. We won’t know the ripple effect of our presence and our words, but all who spoke decided to show up and courageously be visible.

This year we all need to show up. With the 2024 elections only seven months away, our votes to make sure our country continues to be a place where all the people have a voice is vital. For those of us in support of the LGBTQ+ community, we need to make our voices heard by voting for those who will represent our interests. For those of us in the JA or API community, we need to vote not just for people who look like us but also who support our JA/API interests.

So many people want to “cut us down” and make us small, invisible and voiceless. People want to blame us for Covid or anything happening that is negative. But being involved in this issue in San Gabriel made me realize that united, our voices matter, and “going high” as Michelle Obama has stated can make us feel proud of who we are.

Please join me and show up this year in whatever way that you can to preserve our democracy and all that democracy means for each and every one of us. …

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

— From “The Greatest Showman,” sung by Keala Seattle (

Marsha Aizumi is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”