The initial eight days beginning the month of May were a whirlwind: my first in-person speaking engagement with Aiden in over two years, an Okaeri virtual workshop about well-being, a final farewell to my brother who passed away in January, a virtual support meeting for our Asian American Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ community and, of course, Mother’s Day. It seems like a lot, but these were all places I wanted to be, and so as busy as it seemed, it was a smooth and gentle flow from one event to another with moments of rest.
All of these events highlighted the themes for the month of May: Mother’s Day, Mental Health Awareness and Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage. I realize how I have been touched by the intersectionality of all of these themes, and I have grown from their influence.
Mental health, which continues to be a stigma for our AAPI community, has been a place where I have ventured into unfamiliar spaces. It wasn’t always fun, but having good mental health continues to inform how I feel about who I am and how I show up in the world.
My life today, though busy, is also filled with times of rest, walking, appreciating nature, flowers and candles. It is filled with watching BritBox detective programs, which I love, and getting to know Hercule Poirot, Inspector Morse or Lewis. It is taking time to rest and read books I love like Harry Bosch or Brene Brown.
Mental health, for me, is finding balance in my life, so that I can be present in the best possible way. And should I need professional help, I am not filled with shame to reach out for support. It is what has kept our family together because we didn’t have all the answers.
Talking about reading a good book, I just finished an old classic, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Anna Quindlen in the forward says, “The best anyone can say is that it is a story about what it means to be human.” I strive to be a good human being, but I am also learning what that means. This is all part of my journey still.
At the same time, I was reading Pema Chodrin’s “Welcoming the Unwelcome.” My favorite quote in this book was, “Some people naturally bring out the best in us. In their presence, we become more noble, brave and altruistic. We become less cynical, petty and self-doubting.” I realize the people I love to spend the most time with fall into the first category … thank you to those who make me more noble, brave and altruistic!
I continue to grow and learn more about my Asian American history and family. Recently, I met with a cousin from Ohio and one from San Diego to talk about family history. We shared pictures, stories and documents about our family.
Along with meeting with my family, I loved attending the PFLAG National API Connects space, where even more discussion about our AAPI heritage and family took place. At our last meeting, we had people representing the Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian LGBTQ+ communities.
I was thrilled to have one of the LGBTQ+ individuals ask for support, and we were able to connect him with another gay man from his ethnicity and another organization that specifically supports his culture.
If any AAPI individual needs support around the LGBTQ+ topic, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://pflag.org/connects/communities/aapi for additional information about support or resources.
Finally, celebrating Mother’s Day with Aiden, Mary, Stefen, Cat and Papa just brought everything together for me. They are the best thing for my mental health; they nourish my spirit and have taught me to be a better mother, wife and human being.
Aiden coming out has led me back to my AAPI community and understanding how my heritage has influenced me to be the person I am today. Dolly Parton says, “Find out who you are. Do it on purpose.” Even as a senior citizen, I am discovering more of who I am … and, yes, Dolly, I am living my life on purpose and with purpose.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, both biological and chosen!
Happy AAPI Month to all that share this rich culture!
Happy Mental Health Month to all of us that reach out for support so we can be the best humans possible!
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.”