After a three-year hiatus, gay pride returns to Tokyo this weekend. Originally shelved because of “a lack of staff” (because “many gay Japanese don’t dare to come out to their families or workplaces”), apparently the climate has changed?
Hmmm. Not really, at least not in three years.
While some celebrities can afford to be open about being gay or transsexual, coming out is a big social taboo for most Japanese. There are also very few openly gay politicians in Japan so little lobbying in the corridors of power over gay rights. Japanese gays and lesbians have no right to the civil partnerships or marriages offered in some other countries. “Some people are so desperate to officially form a family, that the older partner adopts the younger one — that’s the only way to gain the right to hospital visits or inheritance,” said Aoki from Sapporo.
And yet this weekend revelers will head to Tokyo’s Shinjuku “2-chome” district, where there are 250 gay bars — a feat achieved since the cultivation of the area as a gayborhood back in the 1940s, when American soldiers began showing up. Huh.