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Japan: Experiences at IDAHO

idahoOn the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), Japanese LGBT communities organized several events and street activities in several cities across the country. With a slogan of “Yes to sexual diversity” (多様な性にYES!), various groups broadcast messages promoting a society where differences and diversity are accepted and respected.

Blogger 2in20 nagoya reports success [ja] at the IDAHO street event in Nagoya. Blogger Endo Mameta, one of the active organizers of idaho-net, as well as of the IDAHO events in Yokohama and Tokyo, describes what happened in Yokohama:


Yokohama was revolutionary(?). Before we even started, we were hassled by a bunch of old men.
They had a One-Cup in their hand in the middle of the day, [they were] that kind of bunch.
“What's this? Homosexuals, What the hell is this?”
I started explaining, thinking “ugh, they are kinda scary”, and then they said:


“Hey, hell yeah! Homosexuals or whatever you are, love is all you need right!?” and started getting angry. They were extremely positive.


So I said “That's what we are trying to say”, and the old guy was very supportive.




And eventually, the guy grabs the mic!

“All you passers-by, how do you feel when you hear about homosexuality? Whether homosexuals or heterosexuals, the important thing about love is that you have the comfort, don't you think??”

idaho shinjuku
IDAHO street event at Shinjuku Station, Tokyo

Blogger DASS, who was also at the Yokohama event, writes:


I am surprised that it was only 1990 that the declaration was made — it is surprisingly recent.
While I was watching, it occurred to me that without [the declaration], the circumstances for gays today would have been more difficult, and I thought about what my way of life would have been like, and that perhaps same-sex marriage and partnership that are now recognized overseas might never have been possible.



Now that I have been to this event, what I realize is that things don't change all of a sudden, but [at the same time I realize that] back in 1990 it was unthinkable that we would be able to do something like this. When you look at the current situations in neighbouring countries, I think we are fortunate. I am a chicken so I have difficulties with activities that stand out. But I went there wanting to support people who are making these kind of efforts. Indeed, I am happy that things like this can happen in my city now.

From Kobe, akaboshi reports the IDAHO street activity and posts a series of pictures and videos (here and here) which capture the severe reality of Japanese society and the experience of some of the participants.

Video by akaboshi titled “The severe reality”

Blogger Novkun (Akasugi Yasunobu) writes about the Gay Pride Parade in Kobe, which was held the day after IDAHO:


The parade in Kobe is not like the ones in Sapporo, Tokyo and Osaka, where everything is organized by the LGBT communities themselves; in Kobe, we participate as one of the groups marching in a parade as part of a city-wide festival called “Kobe Matsuri”. As there have been various styles of parade in different places, I think it's a great thing that participants have a choice. It's not about which one is better, but more about having a parallel structure.

Finally, Maruyama Tenoru, a prolific blogger on the topic of LGBT issues, reflects on the events and discusses the situation of LGBT community in Japan:


Words like “discrimination” and “prejudice”, while I don't want to bundle things together so easily [with these words], but in actual fact, in Japan, I have a strange feeling that these kinds of words are actually applicable.
It has been reported for example that in Iran, homosexuals are executed in the thousands, and there is relentless discrimination. Probably a mild expression like “discrimination” is not enough. “Massacre” is more like it. They are trying to literally eradicate homosexuals.


There are more than a few people who think that, in comparison [to the situation is Iran], discrimination and prejudice against Japanese homosexuals/LGBT are much less serious, since Japanese don't get smoked out and killed, [and so they think that] it's better to be quiet and not aggravate things. They shy away from activities that stand out and stay on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, the majority of people who are not homosexual/LGBT, because they don't understand the feelings of [homosexual/LGBT people], give you a dubious look, and feel like they are being accused of something, but they don't know what. There may be some among them who have hardly ever even encountered homosexuals / LGBT.



In Japan, I think there is still a prominent climate in which so-called “gay lib” has been shunned by the very parties concerned, the homosexuals/LGBT. Needless to say, this is very unfortunate.



To those who shun gay lib, actions taken by gay lib groups must look far-fetched and theatrical. It looks as though they are lighting a fire where there is no fire, then making a lot of noise saying that there is a fire.
In reality, however, that is not the case, and the gay lib group is only trying to speak out and do things that must be done, in a serious way.
In other words, they are hoping to realize a world in which a homosexual/LGBT person who decides not to be quiet, not to remain hidden, but to live as he/she really is, surrounded by non-homosexual/non-LGBT (ie. heterosexual) people — a world in which this person can live without feeling daunted or bothered, a world where it is comfortable [for this person] to live equally as a human being.
What is sought here is simple, and that is changing the way of thinking.

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