Gay in Japan Today

Gay in Japan Today


Articles featuring lifestyles, activities, attitudes in gay Japan.

Kansai Queer Film Festival 2007

Jo Lumley, Co-ordinator, Kansai Queer Film Festival, 2007.

Kansai Queer Film Festival 2007 Justin Ellis interviews co-ordinator of the Kansai Queer Film Festival 2007, Jo Lumley about his role in the Film Festival, his life in Japan, and his views on gay and lesbian life in Japan.

"It was a bit lonely being queer," says Lumley of his arrival in Nagoya in 2002. As a Durham University undergraduate he spent a year at Nanzan University where he says he was "clueless" about the gay scene. By the end of his stay, "the queers had banded together," and through an American friend he had explored the gay nightlife of Japan's fourth largest city.

In 2005, after securing a Ministry of Education scholarship to study linguistics at Osaka University, Lumley returned to Japan. It was in the same year that his American friend "put [him] onto the KQFF." Lumley has been programming, translating and interpreting. The all-volunteer organization engaged his interpreting skills for previewing the English language movies. "Interpreting was like a snce," he says.

I Want to Be Myself: Perspectives on Japan's Transgender Community

I Want to Be Myself: Perspectives on Japan's Transgender Community

Justin Ellis reviews the people and events surrounding Japan's passing of the Gender Identity Disorder Law in 2003.

In the early years of this decade the transgender community in Japan underwent a media makeover that widened social understanding of what transgender means. Mainstream attitudes, however, still largely follow traditional gender lines and are clearly maintained in recent legislation dealing with gender identity disorder. However, the message from Japan's transgender community remains I want to be myself.

The innocuous cover of the DVD 3-Nen B-Gumi Kinpachi Sensei ("Mr Kinpachi of 3rd Year Class B") belies how this long-running television drama destigmatized perceptions of transgender people in Japan. Since 1979, the program has been a catalyst in breaking down prejudices about social issues ranging from teenage pregnancy to homosexuality.

In the show, the 30 junior high school students of class 3B navigate the uncharted waters of adolescence with their empathetic teacher and mentor, Mr. Kinpachi. In 2001, audiences were introduced to Nao Tsurumoto, a new student joining the well-established school and its stable of familiar actors.

Diverse crowd champions Kansai Rainbow Parade 2007

Kansai Rainbow Parade 2007.

Justin Ellis reports on the second Kansai Rainbow Parade, 2007, for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Japan's Kansai region.

A one-and-a-half hour delay due to city government rescheduling didn't deter the 1,300-b crowd, out in the sunshine of a cloudless autumn afternoon. Osaka Prefectural Governor Fusae Ota gave her support to the LGBT community in a speech read on her behalf at the opening ceremony in Naka-no-shima Park. Osaka mayor Junichi Seki declared Osaka the human rights capital of Japan in a speech read for him by transgender organising committee member, Mie. School children and members of the public were encouraged to take Kansai Rainbow Parade 2007 balloons that furthered exposure of the event throughout the city.
October 29, 2007

The AIDS Prevention Battle

The battle against AIDS in Osaka.

Justin Ellis reports on the battle for AIDS prevention amongst men who have sex with men in Osaka, Japan.

As LGBT communities across the globe commemorate the 19th annual World AIDS Day on December 1st, the Osaka sexual health community reflects on a decade of achievement.

Good AIDS - bad AIDS was the mantra used by the Japanese media in the 1980s to discriminate between haemophiliacs who had contracted HIV through blood transfusions and those who had contracted the virus through sexual contact. As a result of the tainted blood scandal, proper acknowledgement of men who have sex with men (MSM) as a group vulnerable to HIV infection began only in the1990s.

Until 1997 there was no official prevention work within the MSM community in Japan; however at that time bathhouse owners were distributing condoms and promoting AIDS awareness, says Tetsuro Onitsuka, a founding member of MASHOsaka (Men and Sexual Health Osaka). The bathhouse owners were pioneers in AIDS prevention and a big stimulus for the sexual health community to do something for the AIDS cause. Japanese doctors estimate that 90% of people with HIV in Japan are MSM and statistics show that infection rates have been increasing since 1997 - the only country in the developed world where this is the case. Somehow it's understandable, because society at large is not conscious of the epidemic and nor is the government, even though most of the MASHOsaka budget is from the Ministry Of Public Health and Labour under the auspices of HIV prevention research.
November 29, 2007

Gay Couple in Tokyo

Gay Couple in Tokyo

An interview with Mike, a long-term Australian resident of Japan. Mike talks about his experience as a gay man in Japan - both in the countryside and the city - and in particular as a partner in a gay relationship with a Japanese man.

October 5, 2011

International gay relationships in Japan - an overview

International Gay Relationships in Japan by Matthew Lucas

So you've trawled your way through gay Shinjuku Ni-Chome or whatever other pink district in Japan you happen to find yourself in, not to mention working your way through your fair share of Internet dating disasters. But then one day you somehow end up meeting someone that you, wellreally rather like. Yet however much we might think we've just met our knight in shining armour, one thing's glaringly obvious from the word go: he's Japanese and you're not. And you're both in a country where, although not overtly homophobic, being openly gay is generally not the norm. So what does this actually mean in terms of having a relationship? Read more about International Gay Relationships in Japan

March 6, 2012

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Books on Gay Japan