The inspirational account of a Japanese-American family's triumph in the face of the death of their three children, two from AIDS and a third the victim of a tragic drive-by shooting, Honor Thy Children chronicles the creation, devastation, and remarkable resurrection of the Nakatanis - who journey from unimaginable grief to healing.
This heartbreaking story of a Japanese American couple who experienced the tragic deaths of all three of their children-two from AIDS, one a murder victim-records the family's trajectory from homophobia and denial to emotional healing. Alexander Nakatani, a San Jose, Calif., social worker, and his wife, Jane, an elementary school teacher, grew up in Hawaii in a culture that prized reticence, hard work, denial of self. They virtually disowned their firstborn son, Glen, upon learning he was gay. Troubled, sullen, secretive, raised by parents who feared he was not "normal," Glen left home in 1977 at age 15, living on college loans and forged checks; he died of AIDS in 1990. Greg, the middle son, a macho, heterosexual engineering student, was shot to death in 1986 in a dispute with an illegal Mexican immigrant over a car. The Nakatanis were initially horrified to discover that Guy, their youngest son, was gay, but anger and shame were gradually supplanted by unconditional love. Diagnosed HIV-positive, Guy became a health educator, lecturing at schools and businesses on the dangers of HIV and of homophobic ignorance-with his father at his side as a fellow speaker. Wheelchair-bound and partly blind from AIDS complications, Guy, 26, died in 1994. Skillfully using letters, interviews, conversations and oral testimony, Fumia, author of previous books on grieving, gives her moving study of family dynamics complexity.