Not coming out at work until 1991

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  • en

I was not out at work until 1991. I didn't even come out to a lot of my friends because frankly, I was battling my own internalized homophobia, trying not to be gay. And that's, I hope, something that young people now don't have to deal with. So, you know, I was dating some men, but I was also sometimes dating women. But people didn't know that, that part. And but I was battling it.

And it wasn't until I became a law professor in 1991 that I came out. And at that time I didn't really have a steady girlfriend or anything like that. But I came out to some of my colleagues that were law professors. And the reason I came out is because the law changed. In 1991, Hawaii became the third state in the country to prohibit employment discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and candidly, I didn't feel comfortable coming out knowing that I could have been fired until then for being gay.

And so I came out in 1991, two people at my office and then at the law school. And then in 1993, what after I became a judge, you know, I mean, I was, I wasn't announcing anything, but I ended up with my current my my partner with whom I had children. We actually didn't get together uh until like uh 1996.

And so I started bringing her to bar functions and things like that. And, you know, so everybody knew that we were together. And, you know, I didn't hide anything in terms of professionally, but I wasn't really public until 2011 when I was nominated to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Date: July 14, 2022
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Lana Kobayashi
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

coming out identity LGBTQ sexual orientation

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