Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, November 1, 1999

Straight allies for gay rights

LOTS of folks aspire to write a book. But how many have a book written about them? Two Hawaii residents -- a former military wife and a civil-rights attorney -- are among the 40 national heroes profiled in Connecticut journalist Dan Woog's paperback, "Friends & Family: True Stories of Gay America's Straight Allies" (Alyson Publications, 1999).

"Once upon a time, they were unremarkable people," says Woog in his introduction. "Today they are doing remarkable things. All of them are straight, yet all commit their lives to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people."

The two islanders are:

Bullet Carolyn Golojuch (pronounced "Go-lo-yoo"), one of Hawaii's most vocal and visible gay-rights activists, and an eloquent writer of letters to the editor. Author Woog dubs her a "military man's dream wife," because she dutifully followed her Air Force husband around the globe without complaint. Especially memorable family assignments were Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu, Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Comiso Air Station in Italy.

After 23 years in the service, the Golojuchs returned to the islands. All was quiet, until their son told them that he was gay. That's when Carolyn's activism was born. After her therapist told her to contact the local chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays for support, and there wasn't any, she established one on Oahu. Today, there are also PFLAG chapters on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

"I haunt the halls of the Legislature and military bases," says Golojuch. "I wear my 'I LOVE MY GAY SON' button everywhere. And my license plate -- you know how Hawaii as a rainbow on the top of theirs? Well, I got a personalized one that says PFLAG, so it's cradled right there underneath the rainbow. I love driving the car on every military base in Hawaii."

Bullet Dan Foley, described by the author as "an attorney working on Baehr v. Miike, the 'gay marriage' case that shook Hawaii and sent a matrimonial tsunami crashing into the mainland." The civil-rights barrister has spent nearly a decade fighting the landmark case, and successfully argued it before the Hawaii Supreme Court while getting paid only a fifth of his legal fees.

Yet Foley continues to be the gay community's most committed legal counsel, much to his own initial surprise: "I'm married and have two kids; I had never thought of marriage as anything other than a man and a woman, just like most people. But I felt, who am I -- someone who did have the rights and benefits of marriage -- to say no to them?"

After the historic Supreme Court ruling, more than 20 state legislatures passed bills prohibiting the recognition of gay marriage, further sparking a national debate about "full faith and credit" responsibilities -- whether agreements made in one state (such as the issuance of driver's licenses or the granting of divorces) -- can be recognized in another.

OBSERVES Foley, "Discrimination against gay people is the most insidious form of all prejudice. It's the only one I know that turns parents against kids."

Also profiled in Woog's book are Jane and Hawaii-born Al Nakatani, who reside in California but who maintain a home on Maui. The Nakatanis are nationally known speakers on the topic of AIDs, because two of their three sons died from the disease; a third was shot to death in a road rage incident in San Diego.

Imagine, 40 straight heroes in the eyes of the gay community, four of them with ties to Hawaii. No wonder this place is known as the land of aloha.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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