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Impact of Coming Out on Her Family

When you have children, I think it's not healthy to be closeted. I actually had friends who had children that were lesbian friends that were older than me, and they were closeted to their kids.

I want I wonder what that does to a child, you know, like, are you going crazy? I think maybe my mom's gay, but I mean, how can you live under the same roof and not be open? And then how can you, like, expect your children to not be open about that at school? And so, you know, we were completely out in terms of school and like I said, professionally.

But I thought it was important for we consulted with our children. I said, “Hey, I'm going to be on the news with this. Is that okay with you?”  And they're like, “Sure,”  they didn't, they didn't even understand because it's like, how does that even differ from the way we're living, living our lives right now? So I said, “Sure, I'll do the interview.” And then I said, “Yes, I'm gay.” And, and I said...

To me, it was really important for me to be open, to provide hope not just for the young people, but also to kind of like tell their parents that, “Hey, accept your children.” You know, gay people, LGBTQ people can be happy, can have families, and can be professionally successful and live regular lives. So accept your children. And so, you know, that's why I thought it was really important for me to be out.

And when I did so, I became the first Asian-American of the LG - who was openly LGBTQ to serve on a state court of last resort.


children identity LGBTQ+ people

Date: July 14, 2022

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Lana Kobayashi

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

Interviewee Bio

Sabrina Shizue McKenna was born on October 7, 1957, in Tokyo, Japan, to a Japanese mother and an American father. Being half-Japanese, McKenna struggled with feeling either “too Japanese” or “too white.” Justice McKenna’s life was drastically impacted in 1972, when Title IX was passed. Title IX allowed McKenna to receive a scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii and play basketball. During her time at the university, she came to terms with her sexuality.

McKenna believes her sexual orientation might have altered her career path. After graduating from law school and working for law firms, McKenna became a law professor. Instead of running for government office, she became a judge. However, McKenna’s path to becoming a judge was not a smooth one. It wasn’t until 2011 that she was appointed to her current position as the Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii. Justice McKenna's story shows that members of the LGBTQ community can have successful and meaningful lives. (October 2022)

 

*This is one of the main projects completed by The Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) Program intern each summer, which the Japanese American Bar Association and the Japanese American National Museum have co-hosted.

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