The Google Doodle for today honours Kiyoshi Kuromiya’s inspirational life and advocacy legacy. He was active in civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation, HIV/AIDS education, and other causes. Kuromiya was admitted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall National Monument on this day in 2019.
Following the onset of World War II, Kuromiya’s parents were among the roughly 120,000 Japanese-Americans forcibly transported to federal detention camps under Executive Order 9066. (aka Japanese internment camps).
Kuromiya was born on May 9, 1943, in a Japanese detention camp in northern Wyoming. Kuromiya’s family relocated to California after the war, when he experienced what it was like to be viewed as strange as a gay Asian-American man attending mostly Caucasian schools. Due to a lack of knowledge, he later admitted that he didn’t know any of the vocabulary associated with gay culture. As a result, Kuromiya went to his local library to find out more about himself.
Later, he went to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was motivated by the Civil Rights Movement and established himself as a social activist. In 1965, he was one of the few Asian Americans who marched from Selma to Montgomery. He also maintained a close association with the Black Panther Party and advocated for intersectional unity among oppressed groups.
From 1965 until 1969, Kuromiya marched with the Homosexual Pioneers in the first organised gay and lesbian civil rights protests, which were held each Fourth of July at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Vietnam War was still raging at the time, and he raised awareness on the UPenn campus about the brutal use of napalm and drew an influential poster against the draught.
When the AIDS epidemic struck the LGBT community, Kuromiya shifted his campaigning activities to raising AIDS awareness. After being diagnosed with AIDS, he became a self-taught specialist and became involved in organisations such as ACT UP Philadelphia and People with AIDS (PWA). He created the Critical Path Project in 1989, which was the first group to provide a 24-hour helpline for gay people.
He was appointed a San Francisco Rainbow Honor Walk Honoree in 2018, in addition to being inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at Stonewall. Kuromiya acted as an outspoken leader for oppressed communities and fervently battled for social justice as a proud gay man and AIDS survivor.