Why Did Tokyo Abandon Its Gay Pride Parade For 3 Years?

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.


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  • Chris

    Japan actually had a large and vinbrant gay culture back in historical times. The samurai and their apprentices had an especially pederastic twist to their relationships. Not sure when it ended tho…might look into that.

  • .

    “Japanese gays and lesbians have no right to the civil partnerships or marriages offered in some other countries.”

    Bad wording. They’re actually allowed to marry in OTHER countries and have their marriages recognized at home.

  • Pip

    based on that picture alone, Japan desperately needs to come back with its gay pride. that’s some crazy artistic balloonage right there. the gay community could use some of that off beat approach to pride.

  • SayWhat

    Actually Japan is a traditionally homophobic society, and people see little reason to change. Tokyo is irrelevant as far as gay life has gone and is increasingly sidelined by Taipei and Taiwan which is seen as open, liberal and much more tolerant. Tokyo may be changing but that change has taken too long and in meantime it has been sidelined.

  • whoopi

    yeah Taiwan is more liberal than Japan in general, but it’s not even that difficult , you know? ;) Taiwanese gay couples, however, share the same injustice in laws as their Japanese counterparts.

  • Dan

    Visibility is paramount to change – not the other way around. Japan has some great local groups in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and most college towns, but needs stronger national groups (just like the USA).

  • Akira

    @Chris: They said it ended it when
    Christianity began to spread there and the western culture started to shank its beliefs in the heart of Japan. -___-, but I totally agree with what ur saying like why couldnt they continue to cherish gay people like back then

  • Drew

    Although their gay porn industry fluorishes…my oh my….

  • BlackRockRitual

    A lot of people see Japan as a gay friendly place because anime is such a gay friendly media, so is it’s otaku influenced video game industry. And these are literally among the two most common things that people are introduced to Japan at all with. Therefor, a lot of people think of Japan as a gay friendly place.

    However, “otaku” and “fujoshi” are called that because they are hated, just like gays are hated, in Japan. Being an otaku or fujoshi is incredibly subversive in Japanese culture, but like being outwardly gay is subversive. And these girlfags who draw and enjoy gay porn call them “fujoshi” because they literally acknowledge the fact that society sees them as “rotten women” for such.

    Sadly, far more people that I’m comfortable with, in Japan, think almost exactly like Ishihara about everything. Japan is also a very difficult country for making any kind of good social change. Japan certainly isn’t the worst country to be gay. But it’s just like how Japan certainly isn’t the worst country to be a woman. While it’s better than a lot of places, it certainly isn’t perfect, and a lot of progress needs to be made.

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