Jimin was born and raised in Los Angeles County. He lived with his grandmother who journeyed to America, alone, in the 1970s. Despite the generation gap, grandmother and grandson formed a unique bond that transcended culture and age. As a child, Jimin observed the tenacity, patience, and commitment his family put forth to create opportunities they had been denied in their youth. Through them, he realized academic and career success had little value if prioritized over relationships with loved ones. This was his first introduction to the importance of community. After college, his job moved him to the East Coast, then to Seoul, Korea and finally to Shanghai, China where he learned Mandarin and found community amongst local Shanghainese entrepreneurs and expatriates.
A key turning point in Jimin’s personal journey was when he came out to his best friend, his grandmother. Her surprising unconditional acceptance infused him with confidence to live boldly, despite rejections from other communities. Not long after, however, his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Leaving a budding career in Asia, he returned to California to become her primary caregiver. For Jimin, the role reversal was a full circle reminder of the very lessons he learned from his grandmother that value is derived from the strength of our relationships with loved ones and with our community however small or large. During this time, he also led a support group with the Alzheimer’s Association assisting other caregivers and families. He saw a need especially with elderly LGBTQ Alzheimer’s patients who did not have traditional family support systems and faced discrimination at senior care facilities. In 2017, he helped launch the first event dedicated specifically to LGBTQ seniors for the Alzheimer Association’s Orange County chapter. Jimin dedicates this award to his parents and in honor of his grandmother who passed away in 2017.