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2020 U.S. – Japan Rainbow Camp for LGBTQ Families
By Angeline Acain
Although Japanese LGBTQ families don’t share the same freedoms as Americans, there are organizations in Japan working to change that. Nijiiro Diversity and partner groups, Good Aging Yells and Nijiiro Kazoku are working to improve the lives of LGBTQ families in Japan. Established in 2013, Nijiiro Diversity was the first organization in Japan to address workplace issues for LGBTQ people and remains a leader in LGBTQ rights activism. In 2015, Nijiiro Diversity published, LGBTQ Guide for Workplaces, and in 2018 they published, Transgender Workplace Handbook. The group also provides research, educational training, and consulting, and has worked with universities, government agencies, and 160 corporations including Goldman Sachs, Nissan, Panasonic, and Sony.
In October 2021, the group’s organizers held an event originally called, 2020 US-Japan Rainbow Camp, targeting LGBTQ families and LGBTQ youth that are interested in raising children. The event was originally scheduled to take place in Osaka in October 2020.
A Tribute to
By Angeline Acain
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this. Flavia Francesquini, a long time contributing writer and Assistant Editor to Gay Parent Magazine, passed away this September after a long illness. She was 52. Flavia was not just a contributing writer but she was also a dear and long-time friend. Originally from Brazil, she and I met at a lesbian support group thirty years ago when we both lived in Hawaii. When we both became new parents, our young children played together. We both moved to the east coast and luckily, we were driving distance from each other. While Flavia was in her 30s, she graduated from Smith College with a BA in Psychology; she proudly told her friends that feminist icon Gloria Steinem was giving the commencement address at her graduation. Flavia was tall, vivacious, a witty story teller, and her great sense of fun and humor always made everyone around her laugh and smile.
Flavia offered to write for Gay Parent Magazine (GPM) and her abilities as a great story teller was also apparent in her writing ability. She wrote for GPM from 1998 to 2018. In GPM’s very first issue Flavia wrote about the process she and her partner at the time went through to become pregnant in the article titled, A Story About Us. She wrote, “Sometimes I think of those days and I’m sure his doorman thought we were dealing drugs! We would take our precious brown bag home and inject the sperm with the help of a small syringe.” In GPM’s second issue, she wrote the article titled, Labor of Love, where she described her experience of giving birth. She wrote, “The nurse hooked me up to an IV and slowly (but surely) the contractions started. At first I enjoyed watching the monitor showing how long and strong each contraction was. The numbers would go up to 10 or 11 and I was still finding it amusing. My partner had been very supportive so far. She let me hold one of her hands while she used the other to eat a plate of spaghetti…On the way to the delivery room, my nurse told me to relax. When there was no sign of relief on my face, she leaned over and said, ‘Happiness this big only comes a few times a lifetime. Pretty soon your life will change forever and you will want to remember every second of the next hour. Enjoy!’” Flavia, her ex partner, and son are featured on the cover of GPM’s second issue published in 1999.
Flavia started writing the column, No Drama Mama Parenting Tips, for GPM in 2012 after she became a certified wellness counselor, life coach and parent coach. She gave helpful advice to GPM’s audience on topics including the following (a snippet of her advice is in parenthesis): a stranger asking which one is the real dad (We are a family, that is all there is to it.), a 16 year old uncomfortable with her mother’s same-gender relationship (It may help her to get to know other teens with same-sex parents and COLAGE is a great way to connect with other families, as is PFLAG.), and one parent feeling shunned by their 6 year old (Find something he enjoys for a bonding activity.).
Gay Parent Magazine had a table at the annual LGBTQ Expo in New York City for several years and Flavia loved attending the expos. She was a like a kid in a candy store; one year she rode the “mechanical bull” and took advantage of getting a free professional portrait with her wife.
In addition to writing about her own life, Flavia wrote stories about many other LGBTQ parents including luminaries, singer Chely Wright, drummer Patty Schemel, actor Karamo Brown, and actors/comedians, Alec Mapa, Judy Gold, and Wanda Sykes. In many of these articles she wrote, Flavia would begin with an anecdote from her own life. The following is an excerpt from her article titled, Judy Gold, Up Close and Personal: “My mom was the type of woman who wore blue sunglasses and weird hats to school functions. She hated housework and preferred books to children. I thought that having a quirky artistic-type mom in a conservative Italian neighborhood in Brazil was tough. Add the fact that she was the only divorcee around meant I had a lot of explaining to do before I was even allowed to play with some of the kids on my block. My friends looked at my mom in the same way they looked at lions in a zoo, fascinated, slightly scared and grateful that they didn’t have to live with her. It took me years before I realized just how lucky I was.”
This is an excerpt from Flavia’s article on Wanda Sykes titled, Funny Mommy: “As I stood in line at the bank, a small child stood next to me holding his mom’s hand. He stared at me very intently for a few seconds before asking a great question, ‘are you a girl giant?’ His petite mom became a well of apologies but really, that question made it totally worth running errands in six-inch heels. I have a child too, and I made the mistake of teaching him to talk so I get it. Kids are unpredictable, but I have long believed that being able to laugh at ourselves - and our children - is our saving grace, and what keeps us sane.”
Flavia is survived by her son and wife, by her mother, sister, and brother in Brazil, and many people that loved her. I deeply miss my friend Flavia. But as I read her writings in GPM–and chuckle at her wit…her spirit lives on in her words.
Angeline Acain is the publisher and editor of Gay Parent Magazine.
Photos courtesy of Angeline Acain
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