Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ending API Families' Isolation

The Asian & Pacific Islander (API) Family Pride Banquet was presented again at the Hotel Whitcomb on May 30, 2009. Greeter and board member Daniel Bao made guests feel welcome and he and his family were featured in the Family Honor Role program and in the “Wall of Pride” display that ran along the length of the ballroom. API Family Pride Director Belinda Bronkers-Laureta and her husband John also extended cordial greetings to attendees.

The goal of API Family Pride is to end the isolation of families with LGBT members, and support parents who support their LGBT children. Family Pride feels that the passage of Proposition 8 made it clear that much work needs to be done for the respect, acceptance, and inclusion for API LGBT’s, and for human rights for everyone.

Emcees Trinity Odona and Desiree Thompson kept the program moving through the evening, and the entertainment was first rate. Heiwa Taiko women drummers, who were a big hit at Maitri’s Bliss, kicked off the banquet with a bang. Excellent singer Salvador Real charmed the audience with his voice and Pride of the Pacific Islands hula dancers added the perfect touch between the awards ceremonies.

Acclaimed lesbian civil rights leader Helen Zia honored her mother Beilin for her determined survival in China, her adjustment to life in America, and her embrace of Helen and her partner. Beilin Zia was abandoned as a child in China by her family and endured hardship and the Japanese occupation during the war. But she maintained a positive attitude and moved to the U.S., married, and raised six children. And she welcomed Helen’s lover Lia Shigemura into the family.

Hard-working and highly regarded Tawal Panyacosit, who is the Director of API Equality, honored his mother Lily. His sister Shirley and his nieces Eden and Celeste shared in the ceremony.

Beilin Zia, Lily Panyacosit, and the other honorees, the Lok family, and Rev. John Oda and Rev. Jeffrey Kuan received stunning crystal sculpture awards. And the honorees were assured that they would join future “Wall of Pride” displays, with large family photographs and tributes.

The buffet dinner was varied and delicious, and there were three choices of cakes. GAPA was well represented, and API Wellness Center supporters were present. Famous military resistor Stephen Funk greeted friends, and spoke about his new job battling HIV/AIDS at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Funk sat with his fellow veterans from the Alexander Hamilton American Legion, which is well known for their monthly bingo game with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. An API Family Pride Day Proclamation from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office was read, and there was quick check over of silent auction treasures before the auction and the banquet ended.

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