As I’m writing this, I have a knot in my throat because I’m sharing a story that very few have heard. I feel compelled to finally share it with others because I’m hoping that it may change hearts and minds because it’s about people who are near to my heart. The story I want to share is about my brother, Mike.
Mike is 3 years younger than me and one of my best friends. We can talk about anything and we are very close. My kids adore their uncle Mike and uncle Frank, who are the kindest most loving people you can have in your life. As children, they can’t see anything wrong with two people who are in love because they see people and nothing else. Yes, my only brother is gay.
I learned of him being gay over 2o years ago while I was was back for a break during grad school. Prior to me coming home, my sister had asked me to read the book by Chasity Bono, which I did since it was one of the top sellers. On my first day home, he brought his friend, Frank to have lunch. Both of them were acting a little strange but I didn’t think much of it.
Frank and Mike left later than day and I was left with my sister at home in an awkward silence. I had a clearly inkling that something was up but I couldn’t quite come to terms with it. As my sister and I sat making small talk about things, I started to put two and two together. I asked my sister, “Is Mike dakine?”
Dakine in pidgin is the equivalent of whatchamacallit and sure enough, my sister nodded her head in agreement because she knew that I had figured out what was going on. I was stunned. The little brother I knew and loved was gay and so afraid to tell me what his truth was. My sister and I just cried and cried after that revelation.
I cried for not only the shock of him coming out but more so in fear for his life. My brother was a very happy go lucky kind of guy who sometimes was not as suspicious of others and I was afraid for him. My sister told me how his coming out made him feel so exhilarated about finally being at peace with himself that he was making new friends and opening up to others. Me, being the cautious protector of my siblings as the eldest, I still had that instinct to protect him. There had been several incidents where gay men were lured by others and killed in public bathrooms or in their hotel rooms just for being out of the closet, prior to his coming out in Hawaii. Not only was that happening but the story of Matthew Sheppard was still fresh in my mind and I was truly terrified that Mike would be a victim of this hatred. I just wanted to scream out against the hate that was killing people for being who they were.
Other thoughts crept into my mind about him being the only son in an Asian family and going to a Mormon school where homosexuality was not tolerated. My dad’s only son would not be carrying on the family name to another generation which is a big deal for the Japanese culture. Mike could be kicked out of the college he was in and about to finish. I was scared out of my mind for him. My parents didn’t know that he was gay at the time so I had to hold all of my feelings in at the time. It wasn’t until I was back in St. Louis that I got the call from them of what they had learned. Our family was just in shock.
My brother and Frank went on with their lives and we all got to learn about who my brother struggled to be for so many years. Even though he seemed happy before, he indeed had a newfound happiness that I had never seen. His happiness gave me hope and peace and the shock eventually turned to admiration of his bravery to be true to himself and really be happy.
One struggle that remained with me was that I was not allowed to tell my grandparents that Mike was gay. I remember getting a call from my grandpa who had just visited Mike and Frank’s new condo that they had just purchased together. My grandpa was going on about how nice it was and the great dinner they had there during the housewarming party. This was our exact conversation that I’ll never forget.
Grandpa: “Jone, there’s something funny going on though.”
Me: “Really grandpa, what is funny to you?”
Grandpa: “The funny thing is that we walked around the condo and there’s only one bed. Where does the other one sleep?”
Me: “I don’t know grandpa. You have to ask him yourself.”
My poor grandpa just didn’t have the heart to ask my brother but felt comfortable enough to ask me and I couldn’t tell him. He never did ask my brother or Frank and passed away a few years later not knowing the truth but I think deep inside, he did know.
Today, I had a wonderful day with my brother and Frank taking my kids and my sister’s kids to the beach. They have been together for longer than I have been married and remain a stable support for our family. They both love my children dearly and are adored back. We are all bonded by love.
So why am I telling this story? The recent shooting of people in a gay nightclub in Florida brought back that terrifying fear that I experienced some 20 years ago. What if that was my brother or Frank who was in that nightclub who was an innocent victim of hate? How many families lost loved ones that night because of the hate being spread by people? I weep for their pain and loss. No one should lose a person to hate. No one.
So where’s the sources of this hate? It’s coming from all over with religious leaders touting intolerance around the world across the social media. There’s no factual evidence to support this ideology and as history has shown, it’s deadly. The anti-GMO activists are also part of the problem too. Yes, this hobby activism of spreading misinformation has helped to fuel hatred and bigotr globally. A simple sharing of a link seems harmless, but it can have deadly consequences.
The groups like the Babes Against Biotech, Hawaii SEED, the SHAKA Movement, GMO Justice Coalition, and the other linked environmental groups that support them including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network are all guilty of fueling fear and hatred. These groups have helped to spread misinformation from sources like Natural News, InfoWars, Natural Society, Institute for Responsible Technology, Seeds of Death, and other bogus sites that tout false claims that GMOs causes infertility. The Center for Food Safety has paid for Tyrone Hayes to spread his “studies” on atrazine here in Hawaii. Despite atrazine not being exclusive to GM crops, the fear mongering claim that it changes frogs’ gender has been used to bolster the allegation that it causes homosexuality in humans in the developing world. (This is from an obscure blog that has since been removed but I saved the original text.)
“They’re Putting Chemicals In the Food To Make People Gay”.
Professor Tyrone Hayes has a very controversial theory about
homosexuality and men! According to the Professor, he has scientific
proof that the government has been putting chemicals in food that
turns people gay.
He says,’ They are definitely putting toxic chemicals in our food but
do you think the Professor may be on to something in his research
claiming that some of those chemicals intended purpose is to make
Mike Adams of Natural News also has frequently touted the claims that GMOs contribute to infertility. And then the Babes Against Biotech shared his links only to amplify this misinformation. The Babes posted so many of his links that it was hard to track all of them until others started mocking them and they stopped the sharing of these links.
Alex Jones of InfoWars has also touted anti-gay messages on his site attributing it to GMOs.
The Hawaii anti-GMO groups are all guilty of sharing these unfounded claims with the movie, “Seeds of Death” and Jeffrey Smith’s, “Genetic Roulette.” In the first few minutes of the film, it states GMOs causes infertility that is sourced to Hayes’ claims. Ronnie Cummins, of the Organic Consumers Association, is also featured in Seeds of Death making the same claim on his site. The director of many anti-GMO “documentaries” is Gary Null, who is a AIDS denialist, which explains his homophobic views. Jeffrey Smith was used as a Hawaii County expert on the anti-GMO bill and has been paid by the Maui SHAKA Movement too.
Greenpeace has also led campaigns spreading the misinformation to the most vulnerable and least educated also. I wouldn’t be surprised that the same countries that these environmentalists have propagandized to institute GMO bans also ban homosexuality. The chemophobia being touted by the Pesticide Action Network and the Center for Food Safety are also leading to the claims of infertility which translates to increased homosexuality to the developing world. Meanwhile, CFS and IRT fear monger about GM foods and then sell their scared consumers on the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, which they don’t disclose can use the very same synthetic chemicals that they demonize.
The farmers are also hearing these messages. Many African colleagues have told me that farmers refuse to grow GM crops because they’ve been told by wealthy activists that their children will be homosexual or consuming it will make one infertile. Mark Lynas has been witness to such claims.
The chemophobia of pesticides isn’t just limited to atrazine. It’s targeted at glyphosate too now with claims of infertility by the same sources of bad information. None of these claims are backed by evidence however, the uproar is causing serious consequences across the world where countries are banning its use.
Should we be surprised that this information has traveled across the globe fueling more hate against gay people? The media hasn’t helped either with hyperbole.
In Hawaii, we celebrated the passing of the Marriage Equality Act several years ago. We did it because the people of Hawaii realized that we are all people and deserve equality and the right to be free of discrimination. The Democratic Party of Hawaii was the progressive folks supporting the passage of this law. It’s disheartening to learn that this same group of people who claim to be for the people and “progressive” have changed their tune by supporting the likes of the radical anti-GMO movement. The world is listening and watching us and we must be responsible for the information we share.
No one should lose a family member because of hate. The hate needs to end and it starts by people taking responsibility for their actions. The Right to Know shouldn’t be used to misinform our fellow global citizen and fanning fears. Our leaders need to stand up for the truth and not emotional ideologies that sound appealing on the surface but have a toll upon a minority who deserve to live a life free of fear and discrimination. That right supersedes any right to know what’s in your food.
Foster a world of love, not fear and hate. Do it for the sake of your children so they may have a better world. We owe it to them.