Kiyoshi Kuromiya

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Kiyoshi Kuromiya and friend (1970)
Kiyoshi Kuromiya (left) alongside unidentified friend (right) in 1970
Kiyoshi Kuromiya
Born(1943-05-09)May 9, 1943
DiedMay 10, 2000(2000-05-10) (aged 57)
U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Monrovia High School
OccupationAuthor, civil and social justice advocate

Kiyoshi Kuromiya (May 9, 1943 – May 10, 2000) was a Japanese American author and civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation, and HIV/AIDS activist. Born in Wyoming at the World War II-era Japanese American internment camp known as Heart Mountain,[1] Kuromiya became an aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and a prominent opponent of the Vietnam War during the 1960s.[2]

Site of the internment camp that Kuromiya's family was relocated to and where he was born.

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.[3]

Family and early life[edit]

Kiyoshi Kuromiya was born on May 9th, 1943 in Wyoming at the Heart Mountain Concentration Camp, where his family had been relocated to from Monrovia, California where Kuromiya grew up.[4] Both Kuromiya's parents were born in California and after 15 years of living in Monrovia and a year between Arizona and Nevada in 1961, Kuromiya decided to leave the west coast to go to college in Philadelphia to study at the University of Pennsylvania.[5] Kuromiya labels his own motivation to move to Philadelphia in 1961 as due solely to the name "City of Brotherly Love," and Kuromiya's activism truly began in the 1960s when he became involved in civil rights organizing.[4]

Kiyoshi Kuromiya came out as gay to his parents when he was roughly 8 or 9 years old living in California and says that he was fairly sexually active.[6] Kuromiya, who went by Steve instead of Kiyoshi at the time, the early '50s, mentioned in an interview with Tommi Mecca in 1983 that he did not know any of the terminology due to a lack of literature—he had never heard the word gay and didn't know what a homosexual was. As a result, Kuromiya utilized the Monrovia Public Library in order to learn more about the identity that he knew "was very important to him." [7]

Kuromiya was a third-generation Japanese American and grew up primarily attending Caucasian schools in the Los Angeles suburbs, he says in an interview with Marc Stein in 1997.[8] He was arrested in a public park with a 16-year old boy when he was only 9 or 10 for lewdness and was put in juvenile hall for three days as punishment.[9] Kuromiya mentions in his interview with Stein how his being arrested made him feel like a sort of criminal without knowing it, and left him with a feeling of shame that forced him to be secretive about his sex life—even early on.

Student activism[edit]

Kuromiya started attending college at the University of Pennsylvania in September of 1961 as one of six Benjamin Franklin National Scholars; he was apart of a large scholarship that covered almost all of the associated costs of attending.[10] Kiyoshi decided to study architecture, feeling that it was a field that encompassed a variety of humanistic fields and was inspired by Louis Kahn who too attended Penn and was a professor of architecture at the School of Design.[10] Kuromiya's increased involvement in human rights activities during the early 1960s stemmed largely from his sexual orientation and his feeling that the University of Pennsylvania was very closeted.[11]

Kuromiya's very first antiwar demonstration came in 1962 with the Grinnell Support Against the Resumption of Nuclear Testing demonstration; him and another Ivy League student at Columbia picketed through a snowy blizzard for two days after fasting for two days.[11] At the University of Pennsylvania, Kuromiya was the instigator of the largest antiwar demonstration in Penn's history, with 2,000 people in attendance.[11] Kiyoshi printed and put up leaflets from a fictional group called the Americong that said that there would be an innocent dog burned with napalm in front of the library at Penn in protest of the use of napalm in the Vietnam War.[11] In the days leading up to the demonstration there was significant backlash with the mayor and police chief stating that whoever was perpetrating the protest would be in jail for a significant time.[11] On the day of the protest Kuromiya handed out leaflets that said "Congratulations, you've saved the life of an innocent dog. How about the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that have been burned alive?"[11]

Civil rights involvement[edit]

Kuromiya truly began his activism in earnest during his first year at Penn in 1962 by participating in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Maryland diner sit-ins.[12] Kuromiya was in attendance not far from Martin Luther King Jr. during his "I Have a Dream" speech and met King along with Rev. Ralph Abernathy and James Baldwin later that night.[13] After meeting with Dr. King while after the march on Washington in 1963, Kuromiya continued to work closely with the reverend throughout the civil rights movement.[14]

In 1965 Kuromiya and other activists took over Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—calling it the Freedom Hotel in support of people injured at Pettus Bridge in Selma during the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama.[15] A week later, on March 13th, 1965, after flying down South, Kuromiya was assaulted by the police along with Dr. King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Forman while helping a group of Black high school students black register to vote at the state capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama.[13][12] Kuromiya was hospitalized and police cordoned yet confronted the county's presiding officer the next day about the incident, receiving an apology which King referred to as the first time a southern officer had apologized for injuring a civil rights worker.[13][12] They also received a signed statement prepared by Kuromiya and King from the Sheriff disbanding the sheriff's volunteer posse—the same as the White Citizens Council or K.K.K.—that assaulted Kuromiya.[12][13] Kuromiya even became so close to Dr. King and his family that he helped take care of King's children in Atlanta after his assassination during the week of the funeral in 1968.[13]

Antiwar demonstrations[edit]

In addition to deceptively luring 2,000 people to the Penn library in his infamous antiwar demonstration, Kuromiya was very involved in the antiwar movement throughout the early years of his activist career. On October 20th and 21st of 1967, Kuromiya joined a large demonstration organized by Abbie Hoffman that attempted to levitate the Pentagon building by joining hands around it in a performance art protest.[16][17] In failing Kiyoshi joined other protesters instead in taking and burning police barricades to make bonfires all the way around the length of the Pentagon.[17][18][16] The next year, Kiyoshi created posters for mail distribution under the name Dirty Linen Corporation that depicted Bill Greenshields grinning while burning his draft card with the words "FUCK THE DRAFT" in huge letters.[18][16] Later that year, Kuromiya was arrested by federal marshals and Secret Service for using the U.S. mail system for his crime-inciting and indecent poster.[19][18] Kuromiya, despite the danger of doing so, persisted to distribute 2000 copies of the poster at the Democratic convention at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago which was surrounded by machine guns and jeep trucks with barbed wire as a result of the Chicago police riot.[17]

Gay liberation struggle[edit]

First Annual Reminder protest at Independence Hall on Independence Day 1965
First Annual Reminder protest on July 4th, 1965 at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In addition to Kuromiya's civil rights and antiwar movement involvement, Kiyoshi was very active in the gay liberation movement. Kuromiya actually officially came out as gay on July 4th, 1965 at the first Annual Reminder protest which took place at Independence Hall.[20][21] There were similar demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and New York City and the Philadelphia protest brought in a total of 12 activists.[20][21] The Annual Reminder protest happened for five years until 1969 and was the first time on record where individuals publicly assembled to call for equal rights for homosexuals.[21]

Kuromiya co-founded the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in 1969 following the Stonewall riots in 1969 with Basil O'Brien who he met later while attending a Homophile Action League meeting in Philadelphia.[20][21] Kuromiya describes the idea behind gay liberation as a sort of male-consciousness raising that served to help individuals deal with the isolation they felt as a result of their sexual identity.[22] The GLF in Philadelphia had a significant proportion of African-Americans Latinos, and Asians—though they were only a small group of about a dozen in 1969.[20] Nonetheless, the GLF was more radical than some of its peer organizations that formed after Stonewall. Under Kuromiya's leadership, the GLF recruited a diverse array of people and stood in solidarity with groups such as the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.[23] Kuromiya even received support for the gay liberation struggle when he represented the GLF as an openly gay delegate to the 1970 Black Panther Party Convention at Temple University.[21] In 1970 Kuromiya attended Rebirth of Dionysian Spirit, a national gay liberation conference in Austin, Texas—an experience that changed the way he viewed the gay liberation struggle in some senses.[24] In 1972 Kiyoshi created the first gay organization on the University of Pennsylvania campus, Gay Coffee Hour, which met every week on campus and was open to non-students and served as an alternative space to gay bars for gay people of all ages.[20]

AIDS advocacy[edit]

Kuromiya began working earnestly on the AIDS movement once the AIDS epidemic began in America in the early 1980s. Kiyoshi was most involved with ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)—which he founded the Philadelphia chapter of.[25] After being diagnosed with AIDS himself in 1989, Kuromiya's advocacy work only intensified.[26] Kiyoshi approached his work with the motto "Information is power" and educated himself on the AIDS issues to the point he was invited to participate in National Institutes of Health alternative therapy panels.[27] He created the ACT UP Standards of Care, which was the first of its kind for people with HIV produced by people with AIDS.[28][26]

Kuromiya also founded the Critical Path newsletter, which he mailed out to thousands of people worldwide as well as to hundreds of incarcerated individuals who didn't have access to AIDS information.[29][27] He further developed the Critical Path newsletter, one of the first resources on HIV treatment widely available to the public, into one of the very first websites on the Internet, filled with the latest HIV/AIDS information.[30] From there, the site became host to the Critical Path AIDS Project—through which Kuromiya operated a 24-hour hotline for anyone who sought his help and provided free internet to hundreds of people with HIV in Philadelphia.[31]

Impact litigation[edit]

In the late 1990s, Kuromiya was a part of several successful impact litigation cases.[32] Kiyoshi went to the Supreme Court in 1997 in order to expand freedom of speech rights to protections of the circulation of sexually explicit information about AIDS on the Internet, which led to the court's striking down of the Communications Decency Act.[33] In 1999 Kuromiya was also involved in the class-action suit, Kuromiya vs. The United States of America, in which he presented his case for the legalization of marijuana for medical use for people with AIDS.[34] Kuromiya also ran a marijuana buyer's club as a medical marijuana activist and served a few dozen clients with AIDS in the Philadelphia-area with free marijuana.[35]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1983 Kiyoshi visited the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp for Japanese Americans he was born in with his mom, which he recalls as being a formative experience for him as an activist.[36] Kuromiya survived a battle with lung cancer in the mid-1970s and soon after became close friends with and toured the country for about five years with techno-futurist Buckminster Fuller until his death in 1983.[37] Kuromiya collaborated on Fuller's last 6 books and wrote last book posthumously in 1992.[38] Most prominently he assisted the scientist with "Critical Path," an influential 1981 book about technology's potential to improve the world. Kuromiya was also a nationally-ranked Scrabble player.[39]

Kuromiya died in 2000 of complications from cancer at age 57, though his death was initially reported as due to complications from AIDS.[37]

See Also[edit]

Brief timeline[edit]

  • 1962 CORE restaurant sit-ins, Route 40, Aberdeen, Maryland
  • 1963 Martin Luther King speech, 8/28, Lincoln Memorial, and later to meet King at Willard Hotel, Washington, DC
  • 1965 Injured at State Capitol Building, Montgomery Alabama, leading black high school students in voter registration march, 3/13
  • 1965 First homosexual rights demonstration ever - Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 7/4
  • 1967 "Armies of Night" march on Pentagon Building[15]
  • 1968 Lincoln Park and Conrad Hilton, Chicago, Democratic National Convention riots at Grant Park
  • 1968 Martin Luther King funeral, Atlanta - cared for Martin Jr. and Dexter week of funeral at King house in Vine City
  • 1969 Spoke at Black Panther Party's Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention, Temple University, Philadelphia
  • 1970 "Rebirth of Dionysian Spirit," National Gay Liberation Conference, Austin, TX[22]
  • 1972 First Rainbow Family Gathering, Granby, CO
  • 1974-77 Survived metastatic lung cancer
  • 1978-83 Traveled worldwide with Buckminster Fuller, collaborated on his last 6 books, wrote last book posthumously in 1992 (Fuller died in 1983), Philadelphia, California
  • 1988 First employee of We the People with Aids and charter member of ACT-UP, Philadelphia
  • 1992 ACT-UP members injured at demo at Bellevue Stratford Hotel, numerous ACT-UP arrests around the country
  • 1996 Sat on FDA panel that recommended approval of first potent protease inhibitors
  • 1997 Critical Path Aids Project - Supreme Court overturns communications decency act on internet censorship - lead litigant
  • 1999 Kuromiya vs. United States of America - class action suit on medical use of marijuana.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Susie Ling (September 20, 2016). "The Kuromiyas of Monrovia: A Family of Unsung Heroes". Rafu Shimpo. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  2. ^ Vaughan, Steve (October 18, 1968). "The Defiant Voices of S.D.S." Life magazine. pp. 90–91.
  3. ^ Emmer, Pascal (2012-02-01). "Talkin' 'Bout Meta-Generation: ACT UP History and Queer Futurity". Quarterly Journal of Speech. 98 (1): 89–96. doi:10.1080/00335630.2011.638664. ISSN 0033-5630.
  4. ^ a b Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  5. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  6. ^ HALL, SIMON (2010). "The American Gay Rights Movement and Patriotic Protest". Journal of the History of Sexuality. 19 (3): 536–562. ISSN 1043-4070.
  7. ^ Cheng, Patrick S. (2011). "GAY ASIAN MASCULINITIES AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIES". CrossCurrents. 61 (4): 540–548. ISSN 0011-1953.
  8. ^ Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  9. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  10. ^ a b "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  12. ^ a b c d Porter II, Juan (May 29, 2020). "You Should Know This Gay Asian-American Civil Rights, Anti-War, and HIV/AIDS Activist". TheBody. Archived from the original on October 15, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  14. ^ Haritaworn, Jin; Kuntsman, Adi; Posocco, Silvia, eds. (2014-01-29). Queer Necropolitics. London: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203798300. ISBN 978-0-203-79830-0.
  15. ^ a b Hall, Simon (2008). "Protest Movements in the 1970s: The Long 1960s". Journal of Contemporary History. 43 (4): 655–672. ISSN 0022-0094.
  16. ^ a b c Porter II, Juan (May 29, 2020). "You Should Know This Gay Asian-American Civil Rights, Anti-War, and HIV/AIDS Activist". TheBody. Archived from the original on October 15, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  17. ^ a b c Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  18. ^ a b c "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  19. ^ Keeling, Kara (2014). "Queer OS". Cinema Journal. 53 (2): 152–157. doi:10.1353/cj.2014.0004. ISSN 2578-4919.
  20. ^ a b c d e Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  21. ^ a b c d e Porter II, Juan (May 29, 2020). "You Should Know This Gay Asian-American Civil Rights, Anti-War, and HIV/AIDS Activist". TheBody. Archived from the original on October 15, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  22. ^ a b Thandjoenk (2021-02-04). ""The Ultimate Extension of Gay Community": Communal Living and Gay Liberation in the 1970s". Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  23. ^ Hathwell, David; Kuromiya, Kiyoshi; Grande, Matt; Creamer, Ed; Tommy; sherbo, dan; Boyle, Bernard; Hansen, Eric (1973). The Gay Alternative. No. 2. JSTOR 28037152. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". Out History. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  25. ^ Brownworth, Victoria A. (2019-05-31). "Road to Stonewall: Kiyoshi Kuromiya". Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  26. ^ a b Mathews, Wm. Christopher; McCutchan, J. Allen; Asch, Steven; Turner, Barbara J.; Gifford, Allen L.; Kuromiya, Kiyoshi; Brown, Julie; Shapiro, Martin F.; Bozzette, Samuel A. (2000). "National Estimates of HIV-Related Symptom Prevalence from the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study". Medical Care. 38 (7): 750–762. ISSN 0025-7079.
  27. ^ a b Porter II, Juan (May 29, 2020). "You Should Know This Gay Asian-American Civil Rights, Anti-War, and HIV/AIDS Activist". TheBody. Archived from the original on October 15, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  28. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  29. ^ Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  30. ^ McKinney, Cait (2018-01-02). "Printing the network: AIDS activism and online access in the 1980s". Continuum. 32 (1): 7–17. doi:10.1080/10304312.2018.1404670. ISSN 1030-4312.
  31. ^ Cunningham, William E.; Andersen, Ronald M.; Katz, Mitchell H.; Stein, Michael D.; Turner, Barbara J.; Crystal, Steve; Zierler, Sally; Kuromiya, Kiyoshi; Morton, Sally C.; St. Clair, Patricia; Bozzette, Samuel A. (1999). "The Impact of Competing Subsistence Needs and Barriers on Access to Medical Care for Persons with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Receiving Care in the United States". Medical Care. 37 (12): 1270–1281. ISSN 0025-7079.
  32. ^ Brownworth, Victoria A. (2019-05-31). "Road to Stonewall: Kiyoshi Kuromiya". Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  33. ^ Elbaz, Gilbert (1995). "Beyond Anger: The Activist Construction of the AIDS Crisis". Social Justice. 22 (4 (62)): 43–76. ISSN 1043-1578.
  34. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  35. ^ Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  36. ^ Lubin, Joan; Vaccaro, Jeanne (2020-09-14). "AIDS infrastructures, queer networks: Architecting the critical path". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v25i10.10403. ISSN 1396-0466.
  37. ^ a b Brownworth, Victoria A. (2019-05-31). "Road to Stonewall: Kiyoshi Kuromiya". Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  38. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000), Interviewed June 17, 1997 · Philadelphia LGBT History Project, Marc Stein, Creator · OutHistory: It's About Time". outhistory.org. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  39. ^ Fuller, R. Buckminster (1981). Critical path. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-17488-8. OCLC 6735342.

External links[edit]