Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a Japanese-American author and civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation, and HIV/AIDS activist.
Kiyoshi Kuromiya (May 9, 1943 – May 10, 2000) was born in Wyoming in the World War II Japanese-American internment camp known as Heart Mountain, Kuromiya became an aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and a prominent opponent of the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
One of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front Philadelphia
One of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front Philadelphia, Kuromiya also founded the Critical Path Project and its newsletter; he was also the editor of ACT UP ‘s Standard of Care, the first medical treatment and cultural competency guidelines to be produced for people living with HIV by people living with HIV/AIDS.
Kiyoshi Kuromiya was born on May 9, 1943 in Wyoming at Heart Mountain Concentration Camp, where his family had been transferred from Monrovia, California, where Kuromiya grew up. Both of Kuromiya’s parents were born in California and after 15 years living in Monrovia and a year between Arizona and Nevada in 1961, Kuromiya decided to leave the West Coast to go to the University of Philadelphia to study at the University of Pennsylvania.Kuromiya considers his own motivation to move to Philadelphia in 1961 to be due solely to the name “City of Brotherly Love”, and Kuromiya’s activism really began in the 1960s when he involved in civil rights organizing.
Kiyoshi Kuromiya came out as gay to his parents when he was around 8 or 9 years old
Kiyoshi Kuromiya came out as gay to his parents when he was around 8 or 9 years old in California and says he was quite sexually active. Kuromiya, who went by Steve instead of Kiyoshi back then, in the early 1950s, mentioned in an interview with Tommi Mecca in 1983 that he didn’t know any of the terminologies due to a lack of literature – he had never heard the word gay and did not know what a homosexual was. As a result, Kuromiya used the Monrovia Public Library in order to find out more about the identity he knew was “very important to him”.
Kuromiya was a third-generation Japanese-American and grew up mostly in Caucasian schools in suburban LA
Kuromiya was a third-generation Japanese-American and grew up mostly in Caucasian schools in suburban Los Angeles, he said in a 1997 interview with Marc Stein. He was arrested in a public park with a boy from 16 years old. when he was only 9 or 10 years old for obscenity and was put in a juvenile hall for three days as punishment. Kuromiya mentions in his interview with Stein how his arrest made him feel like some sort of unknowing criminal, and left him with a sense of shame that forced him to keep his sex life a secret, even very early.
Google highlights Kiyoshi Kuromiya in doodle, LGBTQ rights activist
Kiyoshi Kuromiya knew a lot about the fight for rights. A homosexual born in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II, Kuromiya has spent most of his life fighting for civil rights and aid for AIDS patients.
To honor his contributions to the civil rights struggle and anti-war movement, Google is dedicating its Doodle to Kiyoshi Kuromiya this Saturday, on the third anniversary of his induction into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor, a memorial wall American dedicated to LGBTQ “pioneers and heroes”.
The Google Doodle in honor of Kiyoshi Kuromiya depicts a building in the city, painted with a mural of Kuromiya. In a thumbnail on the left, a protest can be seen outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, while the right side shows a smartphone and the Progress Pride flag.
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His civil rights activism began in earnest during his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. He leads a demonstration against the Vietnam War and participates in sit-ins in restaurants to protest against racial inequalities. In 1963, Kuromiya met Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and began working closely with the civil rights legend. Two years later, Kuromiya is hospitalized after being beaten by sheriff’s deputies during a voter registration march in Montgomery, Alabama.
Kuromiya was also very active in the gay rights movement, co-founding the Gay Liberation Front after the 1969 Stonewall riots and establishing the first gay organization on the University of Pennsylvania campus. He was an openly gay delegate to the 1970 Black Panthers convention, which supported the fight for gay liberation, and founded the Philadelphia chapter of ACT UP, an organization focused on the fight against AIDS.
He founded the Critical Path newsletter, one of the first sources of information on AIDS and HIV treatment, and turned it into a website, which led him to fight to preserve the freedom of expression on the Internet. Kuromiya was a lead plaintiff in a successful challenge to the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which banned the posting of “obviously offensive” information about AIDS on the internet.
Kuromiya also befriended Buckminster Fuller and collaborated on the techno-futurist’s last six books, including Critical Path, a book published in 1981 that discussed the possibilities of improving the world through advances in technology.
Kuromiya died of AIDS-related complications in 2000, one day after his 57th birthday.
Sources: PinterPandai, Wikipedia, OutHistory
Photo: Martin for Philadelphia Inquirer. Urban Archives, Temple University. The Gay Dealer, 1970, 16. GLBT Archives, Philadelphia.
by Marc Stein. Copyright © Marc Stein 2009. All rights reserved. – file:///Users/naven/Zotero/storage/I3SURPEL/kiyoshi-kuromiya.html CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons