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A Mother’s Take: Pride Is Love, Hope and Me

By June 21, 2024July 3rd, 2024No Comments

Marsha Aizumi

June is Pride Month! In keeping with the feeling of being proud and Nikkei, Okaeri has created an event called “Okaeri Matsuri” on June 29 from 4-9 p.m. It was formerly known as “Queer Obon,” but in keeping with our hope for greater inclusivity and welcome, we have changed the name to be more open to all faiths. Admission is free, but registration is required. We want to celebrate queer and trans joy inspired by Japanese summer festivals.

LOCATION: Terasaki Budokan, 249 S. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles, CA 90012


One of Okaeri Matsuri’s lead organizers, Keith Nishida, shared these thoughts: “We created this event so LGBTQ+ individuals can show up without leaving a part of who they are at home. Instead of feeling judged and rejected by the JA community, Okaeri Matsuri welcomes you to show up as all of who you are and feel loved, seen and safe.”

Okaeri Matsuri will feature odori dancing, food, drinks, games and other entertainment. You will also get to dance to the brand-new Okaeri Ondo song, which was created in partnership with Great Leap. Taiko Project will be performing, and Bibi Discoteca will grace the stage as well. We are excited that Gia Gunn will be returning to lead the dancing with Mariko and Cam. Azay will once again be our food vendor.

Do you want to practice some of the dances? Come to Nishi Hongwanji Temple parking lot at 815 First St. in Los Angeles. Here are the two practice sessions dates:

  • Sunday, June 23, from 2-4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 26, from 6-8 p.m.

In June, Aiden and I also spoke at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library.

Aiden and Marsha Aizumi at their book signing at the Monterey Park Library (Photo: Courtesy of Marsha Aizumi)

If you want to see a library that is not only beautiful as a venue but also openly supports LGBTQ+, please stop by and visit them. While some libraries are banning books or afraid to lift up LGBTQ+ stories, this library is visibly showing their Pride everywhere. Thank you to the staff at the Monterey Park library for lifting up our story, book and creating PRIDE displays throughout their library.

I would like to close with an excerpt from a poem that Aiden wrote, “What Is Pride?”

I am so proud of my son. And I am so proud of this amazing LGBTQ+ community that is filled with resilience, beauty and courage. HAPPY PRIDE EVERYONE!


It is lifting each other up. Standing together, crying together, and celebrating together.


Hope that we continue to overcome. Hope for tomorrow. Hope that one day, our lives as LGBTQ+ people will be seen for how wonderful we are.


It is waking up every day to face the world authentically as a queer, trans, Japanese American man. It is holding true to myself. It is being visible for the next generation of LGBTQ+ folks. It is honoring where we have been and knowing how much further we need to go and hoping my story, voice, life will somehow contribute to that progress.

— Aiden Takeo Aizumi

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.”