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05-Apr-2016 17:17

Tondemonai is notable not only as the first professionally staged theatrical work to center on the wartime confinement of Japanese Americans, but for its forward-looking discussion of race and sexuality.

Perhaps most remarkable is Tondemonai’s treatment of homosexuality.

Representative Mike Honda (D-Calif.)–incarcerated at the Amache (Granada) Concentration Camp as a child–has also become an outspoken advocate for transgender rights–first publicly supporting his own granddaughter and, most recently, calling for legislation that would allow transgender troops to serve openly.

Amid these cosmopolitan images of prewar San Francisco, two photographs captured my attention.

Both were taken while Onuma was imprisoned in the American concentration camp known as Topaz, located in central Utah.

Despite the challenges of uncovering these stories, scholars are slowly beginning to unearth instances of the LGBT incarceration experience and even finding that “incarceration provided unique opportunities to sexual and gender nonconformists.” [1] In , John Howard—professor and head of American Studies at King’s College London—argues that “even as the concentration camps foreclosed countless freedoms, they opened up new possibilities for same-sex intimacy.” These possibilities included a more densely packed living environment, the breakdown of traditional family units, new social liberties for young adults, sex-segregated clubs, and the placement of unmarried men in same-sex housing units, as seen in “Bachelor’s Row” at the Jerome concentration camp. In order to draw attention away from their illicit same-sex encounter, the two played up their drunkenness and were punished with a night in jail and a small fine [2].

Howard highlights the stories of Masao Asahara and Jack Yamashita, whose September 1943 public drunkenness and sexual encounter at Jerome were discovered and written up by the camp’s associate chief C. Howard also relays the story of Jiro Onuma—a story that Tina Takemoto, associate professor at the the California College of the Arts, explores in even greater detail.

Representative Mike Honda (D-Calif.)–incarcerated at the Amache (Granada) Concentration Camp as a child–has also become an outspoken advocate for transgender rights–first publicly supporting his own granddaughter and, most recently, calling for legislation that would allow transgender troops to serve openly.

Amid these cosmopolitan images of prewar San Francisco, two photographs captured my attention.

Both were taken while Onuma was imprisoned in the American concentration camp known as Topaz, located in central Utah.

Despite the challenges of uncovering these stories, scholars are slowly beginning to unearth instances of the LGBT incarceration experience and even finding that “incarceration provided unique opportunities to sexual and gender nonconformists.” [1] In , John Howard—professor and head of American Studies at King’s College London—argues that “even as the concentration camps foreclosed countless freedoms, they opened up new possibilities for same-sex intimacy.” These possibilities included a more densely packed living environment, the breakdown of traditional family units, new social liberties for young adults, sex-segregated clubs, and the placement of unmarried men in same-sex housing units, as seen in “Bachelor’s Row” at the Jerome concentration camp. In order to draw attention away from their illicit same-sex encounter, the two played up their drunkenness and were punished with a night in jail and a small fine [2].

Howard highlights the stories of Masao Asahara and Jack Yamashita, whose September 1943 public drunkenness and sexual encounter at Jerome were discovered and written up by the camp’s associate chief C. Howard also relays the story of Jiro Onuma—a story that Tina Takemoto, associate professor at the the California College of the Arts, explores in even greater detail.

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