Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation, and HIV/AIDS activist from Japan. Kuromiya was born in Wyoming at the Heart Mountain Japanese American internment camp during World War II, and became an aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War throughout the 1960s.

Kuromiya was one of the founding members of the Gay Liberation Front of Philadelphia, as well as 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 written by HIV/AIDS patients for HIV/AIDS patients.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya Accomplishments

Kuromiya was involved in several successful impact lawsuit cases in the late 1990s. In 1997, Kiyoshi petitioned the Supreme Court to extend free speech protections to the transmission of sexually explicit information about AIDS on the Internet, which resulted in the Communications Decency Act being struck down by the court.

In 1999, Kuromiya was also a plaintiff in the Kuromiya vs. United States of America class-action lawsuit, in which he argued for the legalization of marijuana for medical use by individuals with AIDS. As a medical marijuana activist, Kuromiya also established a marijuana buyer’s club and provided free marijuana to a few dozen AIDS patients in the Philadelphia area.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya early life and family

Kiyoshi Kuromiya was born in the Heart Mountain Concentration Camp in Wyoming on May 9, 1943, after his family was transported from Monrovia, California, where Kuromiya grew up.

Both of Kuromiya’s parents were born in California, and in 1961, after 15 years in Monrovia and a year in Arizona and Nevada, Kuromiya chose to leave the West Coast and attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Kuromiya claims that the appellation “City of Brotherly Love” was exclusively responsible for his decision to relocate to Philadelphia in 1961, and that his activism began in the 1960s when he became active in civil rights organization.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya, who grew up in California and came out as gay to his parents when he was about 8 or 9 years old, claims to have been sexually active.

In an interview with Tommi Mecca in 1983, Kuromiya, who went by Steve instead of Kiyoshi at the time, said he didn’t know any of the terms owing to a lack of literature—he had never heard the word gay and didn’t know what a homosexual was. As a result, Kuromiya went to the Monrovia Public Library to study more about the identity he knew was “very essential to him.”

In a 1997 interview with Marc Stein, Kuromiya described himself as a third-generation Japanese American who grew up mostly attending Caucasian schools in the Los Angeles suburbs.

When he was 9 or 10 years old, he was detained in a public park with a 16-year-old boy for lewdness and sentenced to three days in juvenile hall.

In his interview with Stein, Kuromiya talks about how his arrest made him feel like a criminal without even realizing it, and how it left him with a sense of guilt that compelled him to be covert about his sex life from the start.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya death – How did he die?

Kuromiya died of cancer complications at the age of 57 in 2000, while his death was initially attributed to AIDS issues.

Kuromiya visited the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp for Japanese Americans, where he was born, with his mother in 1983, which he describes as a crucial experience for him as an activist. After surviving lung cancer in the mid-1970s, he became close friends with techno-futurist Buckminster Fuller and traveled the country with him for nearly five years until Fuller’s death in 1983. Kuromiya worked on Fuller’s last six novels with him, and Fuller’s final book was released after his death in 1992. Kuromiya helped the scientist most notably with Critical Path, an acclaimed 1981 book regarding technology’s ability to better the world. Kuromiya was also a national Scrabble champion.

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