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Gays in Japan Stay In The Closet

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Japan is a very group-oriented society, and most Japanese do not like people to be too different. Not in small ways, of course. It’s fine if you practice hula dancing, study Greek, or listen to opera. Even if you are an otaku — roughly the equivalent of a geek — people might look at you a bit askance, but it’s not a big problem.

The differences that are a problem are those that cause people to be unsure how to relate to you. Being foreign isn’t a huge problem because you’re not really part of the group. Some Japanese, however, go abroad for a couple of years and come back to Japan with a personality changed somewhat by the experience, and they have social problems when they deal with other Japanese again. They speak too bluntly, they give unsolicited opinions, and they don’t defer to others in the right ways. They can lose friendships and cause acquaintances to back away. Japanese are not sure how to relate to the person anymore.

As a country, Japan isn’t sure how to relate to gay people, so their solution is to not do so. Social conformity is paramount in Japan, and social conformity requires gay people to stay in the closet. Part of the reason for this is a great deal of ignorance of what being gay is all about. Most Japanese think all homosexuals have opposite-sex gender identification – all gay men are queens and all lesbians are butch.

When I explain to students (I’m a straight American English teacher in Japan) that this isn’t true and that only a minority are queens or butch, students are very surprised. They are surprised because this isn’t what they see on TV. The only gay men they see on TV are queens. They never see men who look and act normal in every respect except that they’re attracted to men. So if you ask them how they’d feel if it turned out that their brother or friend was gay, in their mind, they’re imagining their brother or friend as a flaming queen.

On the other hand, Japanese society and Japanese individuals aren’t actively hostile to gays. Even in the relatively tolerant Western countries, there is always a certain percentage of people who think being gay is simply wrong due to conservative moral ideas, religious training, and the notion that gay sex is icky. (I personally think the first two are convenient excuses for those whose biggest problem is the third.)

While Japanese may feel the third, the first two don’t tend to be an issue. Some of the students I’ve talked to are gay-friendly. The majority think it’s strange but don’t have a fundamental problem with it. Granted, my students aren’t truly representative of Japanese society because they chose to take English lessons and talk to foreigners, so they would be more open-minded. Some have the familiar ‘what if he comes on to me, or checks me out in the locker room’ prejudice, which probably only disappears with education and experience. The strongest negative attitudes I’ve encountered were from students age 60 and over, so it may be that it will be different in a generation or two.

It’s difficult to imagine the situation changing too much, though, if only because it’s hard to know how it would start. For things to change, people need to start coming out, and in Japan that’s very difficult. Not that it hasn’t been difficult for people in Western countries, of course, but the social dynamic is different in Japan. One can be out to friends, in some cases, but my students agree that if a man’s company found out he was gay, while he probably wouldn’t be fired, he would definitely never be promoted and his co-workers would socially ostracize him.

This is a very frightening thought for Japanese, for whom social inclusion is extremely important. Bullying is considered a big problem in Japanese schools, and the most common form of ‘bullying’ is one in which most or all of a class ostracizes one child. In America this wouldn’t really be considered ‘bullying,’ but in Japan, students have committed suicide because of it. It’s a very big deal. Gay Japanese know that the more out they get, the closer they get to that.

This is unfortunate because most Westerners know we learn to be most accepting of gays when a close friend or relative comes out. We put the effort into understanding what we otherwise wouldn’t. More coming out increases understanding and acceptance until a critical mass is reached and gays finally achieve something like society-wide equality. We’re not quite there in America yet, but are getting close. In Japan, the process has barely begun.

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About Shari

  • plainavy

    Two observations in particular interested me: 1) that people who find gay sex “icky” might have something wrong with them, and 2) that people who have issues about being “checked out” (or checked over) in a locker room by same sex oriented people only need “education and experience” to get over that particular hurdle to accepting gayness.

    Now it occurs to me that straight people who find certain sexual practices “icky” are not pariahs or otherwise considered abnormal for their tastes and opinions. Also, American society anyway certainly has proscriptions against “checking out” the opposite sex in locker rooms (due to opposite sex attraction), so why wouldn’t people have some legitimate claim to objecting to being checked out by those of the same sex (due to same sex attraction)?

    Just wondering.

  • Constance

    Whenever I think about Japan and “gay” I think of yaoi mangas which openly suggest gay relationships, which gave me the impression that it was OK to be gay in Japan. I guess that was the wrong impression. Now that i think about it yaoi are directed towarded teenage girls.

    anyways, great article. I love learning about different cultures.

  • http://www.gpb-katie.blogspot.com Katie McNeill

    Like Constance said this is a great article. I’m surprised to hear that being gay isn’t as accepted in Japan as it is the US.

    Of course we don’t always get the complete picture when looking at a country from the outside. But I’ve run across some manga that has same sex relationships as the main focus. I guess I was just under the impression they might be more open minded about.

  • Alcibiades

    In response to the top commentor, I don’t think the problem the author has is with people who simply find gay sex “icky” but rather who act on this feeling to discriminate towards queer people. Studies in the past 5 years (on animal sexual behavior in the wild, for instance) have shown more an more that homosexuality is primarily – though not toatally – biologically determined – and that it is common in nature so regardless of how one feels about gay sex one ought to treat day people with dignity.

    A more meaty comment, however, is that the author of this article definitely simplifies Japanese attitudes towards gays. As a queer university student who spent half a year in Japan not too long ago, I feel compelled to defend the Japanese a little bit. The widespread popularity of ‘Hard Gay,’ for instance (a japanese TV spoof on a leather-loving gay guy) is evidence that the younger generation at least can frequently have a sense of humor about gay culture rather than hostility towards it. Although the Castro or West Villiage it’s not, Japan has a better queer ‘infrastructure’ – for lack of a better word – than most non-Western countries and there is certainly more queer visibility and presence there than in any other Asian country except perhaps some parts of Thailand. Most major Japanese cities have gay districtics (Shinjuki Ni-Chome in Tokyo, most famously) with plenty of bars and clubs, something not at all true of everywhere in the world. There are probably more officially gay clubs in Osaka, for instance, than in all of India. Now granted, half the people in those clubs will be married and many won’t be out to their entire family, but the situation could be muh worse. At the very least, there is almost no anti-gay violence in Japan; I felt safer being affectionate with my boyfriend on the Tokyo subway than I would have being pupliclicy gay late at night in most American cities. I also had an overall good (though not univerally so) exerience coming out to Japanese, though the fact that I was dealing with people my own age and those in the generally liberal technology industry may have played a role. No doubt living in major cities also helped tone my experiene, but it’s worth noting that there is a substantial part of the urban culture in Japan mostly comfortable with homosexuality. Finally, I just want to say on a side note that it’s interesting to me that writers about modern queer Japan generally phrase the problem of homophobia as one where Japan needs to “catch up” to the West. Historically, Japan was actually the far queer-friendlier place. There were many openly gay diamyos (samurai lords) and members of the imperial family; from the 13th to the mid 19th century, Japan was arguably the most gay friendly place on earth. It was only when the country started deliberately copying Western social norms during the Meiji Restoration of the late 1800s that the Japanese started to embrace homophobia because gayness was seen as a ‘Japanese’ weakness.

    Overall the author makes some very valid if overly simplified points. Thanks for drawing some public attention to an area that interests me and sorry about the sometimes rambling reply.

  • http://myso-calledjapaneselife.blogspot.com/ Shari

    Plainavy: My personal feeling, I guess. As long as people keep their hands to themselves, I don’t care who looks. Legitimate is in the eye of the beholder.

    Constance and Katie: Yes, there are mangas with gay men (and lesbians, I’m pretty sure), but those are directed at a particular (small) readership, not a mainstream one. You’d never, ever see “Queer As Folk” run in Japan. Thanks for the comments!

    Alcibiades: Your first comment, yes, exactly. Many straights have the ‘ick’ factor, and I’d only blame them if they used it to attack gays. But as for Hard Gay, I see him and those like him as part of the problem, not as anything good or hopeful. That kind of crap only reinforces the Japanese idea that gays are weird, or at least not normal. I can’t help but remember the Homer Simpson comment: “I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my homosexuals flaming.” Japanese do too, and this was part of my point. And yes, I know about Shinjuku ni-chome, and I know there is a gay community of sorts in Japan. And I did point out that Japanese are often individually tolerant, and that they aren’t moralistic gay-bashers. But the main point of the article was that gays have to stay in the closet if they don’t want to be shut out of mainstream society, and the societal reasons behind that fact. As for being simplified, well, an article such as this can’t help but simplify to a certain extent. There are always exceptions and niches, but I’m confident that the main thrust of the article is correct. And thanks for the comment; it’s interesting to hear from someone with experience.

  • http://www.crowdedworld.com/japan/lesbianjapan.html CodeRot

    Japan might not be as gay-unfriendly as some other Asian countries (for example South Korea), but nonetheless, it is no San Francisco or Sydney either. Like some of the other posters, I have lived in Japan a while (in my case 6 years.) My last girlfriend (Japanese) always got confused for a guy by people we met in the street, old ladies while waiting in the line to get into the World Expo at Aichi in 2005. I never thought anything of at the time, because there are plenty of guylike or gender neutral looking girls where I come from. But in Japan, a woman is supposed to look like a woman (the more womanly or even girlish or even childishly girlish) the better. Men are supposed to look like men (even though they kind of look girlish to my western eyes.)

    Soon after we split up, I went into my old girlfriend’s room — and found lesbian magazines lying next to her bed. And then suddenly I realised — she was really a lesbian! Suddenly, it all made sense. But she was living in the closet, because of the sexual repression of the Japanese nation. It is funny it took me so long to work it out.

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com Ken

    I have to agree with Alcibiades that although I enjoyed the article and it’s well written, it seems to over-simplify the Japanese points of view, which is reality is as diverse as one would find in any other nation. But, I agree much with Shari’s comment: “Japanese are often individually tolerant…” the flip side there is that they are not institutionally so, which while I think is true elsewhere, is perhaps quite strong in Japan. When people get to know you, they can be very, very accepting (if not overly curious!)

    As far as Hard Gay goes, he’s straight and married to a woman, everyone knows that and he’s not representative of gays in Japan. He’s a caricature, which is quite common in his industry (as is being famous for a year and disappearing altogether). He’s just a talent agency pawn, and that is widely recognized. I don’t think many Japanese people are gullible enough to think he represents what the gay community is actually like.

  • http://myso-calledjapaneselife.blogspot.com/ Shari

    One point I’d like to make because I believe it might be missed by the English-speakers reading this article (who are very likely not Japanese) is that this article is about being a Japanese person who is gay who wants to live in mainstream Japanese culture. For foreign gay people, the experience is quite different because you already start off being outside mainstream culture. You “get away with” a lot that a Japanese person does not simply by virtue of being a foreigner.

    Certainly in Japan, you can nuzzle your boyfriend or girlfriend in public and no one will harass you or beat you up but you couldn’t be Japanese and do so in a place where a coworker might spot you and expect that it’d have no impact on your life and career (unless you were in entertainment or the arts).

    If a Japanese person is gay, he will very likely not tell his family or coworkers that he is gay because this will likely result is very negative consequences. In other words, if you are Japanese and want to continue to enjoy a life in mainstream Japanese society, you will remain in the closet.

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com Ken

    if a Japanese person is gay, he will very likely not tell his family or coworkers that he is gay because this will likely result is very negative consequences.

    That was sort of my point: How is that different from any other country? Even growing up in one of the most liberal parts of the US, this is still very, very true – and thus I don’t see how the Japanese experience is all that different, other than possibly a higher level of pressure to conform in Japan.

  • http://www.anotherqueerjubu.typepad.com mark

    this gay boy (well at this point not such a boy) lived in japan from 81-87. my boyfriend was one of the gay japanese men whose essays appear in Queer Japan, a book by folks who are very out.

    I worked at Dentsu, and it is true that in the world of conservative business, japanese men and women are not so out. but in the vast world that does not depend on this kind of conformity, you’d be surprised at the range of acceptance you’ll find.

    yes, stereotypes abound. yes, the proverb “the nail that stands up gets hammered down” continues to be true. but i know a lot of people who are nails that stand up tall and refuse to be hammered down.

    all this said…Japan is like France in some ways. get married, have children, and have whatever lover you want on the side, just keep it secret so as not to bring shame on the family.

    in japanese media, from the 80s when i was there and “Kinya” a drag queen singer was popular to the recent example of “Hard Gay” queer folk have been stereotyped in unfortunate ways. but as some here have already noted, yaoi makes it more complicated. and when you consider films like Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, which looks at masculinity, power, violence, sexuality — well, there are times when the japanese can be more sophisticated than the west.

    it’s early april. cherry blossom time. i miss it. thanks for the memories.

  • http://www.google.co.jp JapanGuy

    Real problem is many people assume “homosexual” is the same as “gay”. But really it is not same. Homosexual activity is just means two men will do sexual activity, or two women. Thats all. Its just a natural action. Not identity and culture. Homosexual activity is existing since begining of time even in all animals.

    But “gay” is modern Western invention. This because western culture had a strong and clear discrimination because of Christians intolerance reagarding the males homosexual activity. So the westerners discriminated them strongly and clearly in their culture. Those discrimated people eventuality created a brand new identity called “gay” in the modern movement against discrimination in the West.

    But in non-West like Japan there was no “gay” identity because there was no strong and direct discrimination against the males homosexual activity. The sexual behavior between the men is just considered personal thing, its hobby or interest curiosity done by unknown number of people. But its never cultural identity. Its just personal so no one interested in interfere in personal life of others.

    So in fact in Japan there is no social discrimination against “gay” because “gay” does not exist in the native culture. In Japan the homosexual activity is purely private and personal, so it is not openly declared, because nobody cares about it. It is rude to interfere in other people personal life. Only the OKAMA (cross-dress) who are adopting a clear separate identity are openly declared. Even Japanese know some male is doing sex with another male, but nobody cares if it remain a undeclared activity. Even we know the homosexual activity is happening, but there is no discriminations. But western idea of “gay” is imported so it has some bad effect in Japan I think.

    We cannot say Japan is “less develop” because Japan did not have organized direct discrimination like the west. In this sense I think Japan is “more advanced” because we never persecuted homosexual activity. I think Japan should treat the homosexual activity in its own way, and not copy instantly the Western idea that homosexual = gay, when in fact it is not. Today those Japanese who identity is “gay” are intentionally copying western idea because of colonial mentality that West is “more advanced” society.

    In fact the history of the West is more intorerant and discrimation, so the in fact Western history is about the socially conservative and backward society. So “gay” is a western reaction against its own terrible discrimination done to its own people. But “gay” should not be assumed to non-Western cultures because this is colonialism. This is wrong.

  • jude

    i am living in a residence in brazil that is well known to japanese people.they travel around brazil from one known japanese residence to another.i have never seen a group of people that travels always amongst their own kind.isnt the purpose of travelling to open up to new things and grow?i am the only white person here and also gay.they are such a closed minded people compared to what i am used to in montreal canada.until i left canada i had no idea how far behind the rest of the world is in terms of accepting sexual diversity.when i see immigrants come to canada they seem to loosen up a lot.yeah for canada!!!

  • Dan

    The comments by JapanGuy are a perfect illustration of what was touched upon in the article. He seems to think that the idea of being gay doesn’t exist natively in Japan, and he seems to have no concept of a loving, long-term relationship between two men or two women. He only knows about homosexual sex, which he says “is not openly declared, because nobody cares about it.”

    It seems to me that if nobody cared about homosexuality, gay people would feel free to live openly. Only intolerance would force them to be so closeted that, apparently, others don’t even know that gay people have long-term relationships.

    The notion that being gay is imported from the West is also found in conservative Muslim countries. If it’s a common belief in Japan, it suggests to me that Japan may have a ways to go before gay people are accepted there in daily life. There are gay people in every culture, so I doubt that it could be imported.

    At the same time, JapanGuy considers gay sex to be “just a natural action.” So he does seem to accept homosexuality at that basic level.

    In the West, people like Freud realized that there are gay people, not just gay sex, in the middle to late 1800s. Hostility toward gay people developed in the 1950s and was associated with McCarthyism, so it wasn’t a product of religion. However, that hostility was rationalized later with religious and Biblical arguments.

    Some right-wing evangelicals who oppose homosexuality talk as if their perspective were the only interpretation of the Bible, or the only Christian viewpoint. So homophobia is associated with some religion today, but this wasn’t always true.

  • Steve

    Wow, this artical blew my mind. Liked a few others here I thought Japan as a whole were pretty accepting of gay culture. I guess I got that notion from Visual-Kei (bands that basically feature men in women’s clothing, hair and make-up).

    I believe it was most popular in the 90s and has probably died down since, but I’ve seen so many people interested in Visual-Kei bands. You’d never really see those types of bands in the West, so I guess that was the reasoning for my initial misconception about Japan and gays.

  • utut

    It has been estimated that about ninety percent (90%) of all males in Tokyo are exclusively homosexual. In other parts of Asia, homosexuality is widely practiced. Not approved perhaps, but practiced.

  • Alejandro

    Hello!

    Well first of all I must say that I loved the article and that (as a gay man) I would like to thank Shari for advocating LGBT consciousness and fighting ignorance through education and social awareness! I am also a teacher and I do believe that we have an ethic responsibility to brake stereotypes and prejudgment!

    Also I would like to comment on it, last spring I went to Japan with my spouse and we stayed there over a month, we enjoyed it so much that we’re planning to go back soon(we also have a bunch of good friends in Tokyo). I know my experience can’t be compared to the ones who have lived in Japan but still my opinion would bring a perspective as a tourist and as a friend of gay Japanese guys and gay foreigners living in Japan (and also straight Japanese guys).

    The first impression I got from Japanese society was that they would have no problem with “gays” (using the word as a “westernize concept” JapanGuy would suggest) but the further we kept going into the social dynamic we discovered that there’s a lot of taboo! I found Japanese society full of contradictions through my eyes and I’m not suggesting Japanese society is more or less neurotic or unhealthy for human beings than other societies world wide, but when a being suffers psychological distress we can suspect that something’s wrong in the system! And I found a lot of Japanese gays in this situation, yes I know we have a lot of gays suffering emotional distress world wide but at least in North America and most countries of Europe LGBTI people have someone (family, friends, organizations,social movements, etc.) who would advocate his/hers rights so they can live out of their closet knowing that they are laws that would prevent discrimination and protect them! Also, that they are free to practice love (not just sex), that they deserve love, respect and equality regardless of their sexual orientation and that they are free to raise their voice to claim all this rights!

    My gay Japanese friends told me they don’t have such things in Japan and even tho they’re some human rights campaigns they’re not taken seriously and people are just afraid to be ostracized (which culturally is such a big deal for them), lots of them dream to go out the Island and live “the western gay life dream” (which is also an illusion right? but at least it gives more air to breath in this still homophobic system). But good news is that the newest generations are hungry of new and more functional social dynamics and concepts and it seems they are looking forward to it!

    As JapanGuy said, there’s basically freedom to do whatever you please in the intimacy but (at least in my experience) there’s no freedom to live freely as you are, love who you love and show without shame your sexual orientation!

    A lot of my Japanese gay friends criticize foreign homophobia or rejection towards “feminine” male gays (since Japanese young men tend to be so feminine for a Western perspective) but they applaud the fact that in well developed Western cities there’s protection, acceptance and social rights for LGBTI people, and that homosexuality is seen as a sexual orientation and not as sexual preference lived through the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy!

  • European

    Living in Europe is a blessing. Here the whole gay culture starts to be so normal. Of course we’ve had our difficulties and in the future will have them, I’m not denying that.

    Mostly of all, I think Sweden may be the most advanced country on the Earth thinking of any cultural progress.

    I think it is very shameful that any racism at all occur. I don’t understand people who waste their lives with anger. I want to live my own life, not controlling others. I want find happiness of my own, I want to feel it all the time. I don’t want to give myself up to anger.

  • Zuzana Janostiakova

    Hey Shari!
    thank you for the very interesting article.
    I am a student of Masaryk University in Brno, specialised in japanese language and I am about to finish my studies. As my graduation work I am writing about Homosexuality in Japan, and I think you and your experiencces might be very usefull, so if u feel like helping me and are willing to, please contact me on zuzanajanostiakova@gmail.com. I hope, we will be able to comunicate soon, if u are interested.
    Thank you!
    Zus

  • Rafa

    Japan, please embrace less homosexuality…be more like China/Korea/America, please…

  • Jessie

    I used to have a friend who was Japanese. She had lived in America for around twelve years but never gave up Japanese culture (to the point of ridiculousness, I never saw her read an English book unless it was a school assignment) and despite growing up in a very liberal town, she was extremely homophobic. She told me, “In Japan, gays aren’t proud of it like they are here. They keep it quiet.” Once she said, referring to gay people, “I would never choose to be like that.” The thought of lesbian sex disgusted her, as well as gay kissing. She also didn’t believe in bisexuality. This was a turning point in our friendship. My best friend is openly gay and I couldn’t stand being friends with a homophobe.

  • from asia

    I agree with Alejandro’s post 100% as an East Asian lesbian. Still can’t figure out why many Westerners tend to view Japanese social dynamics with rose-colored eyes, however! And it’s usually the case that Japanese society sets “lower” moral standards for Western foreigners, and thus the illusion?

  • Harry Underwood

    @Rafa: Why would you want Japan to become *more* idiotic and totalitarian? I sure wouldn’t.

    @Shari: Came for the post, stayed for the comments. An interesting read, especially from the perspective of JapanGuy (who I assume to be native to Japan).

    @JapanGuy: Your commentary is interesting, although I am more interested in how this joint acceptance of homosexuality and perturbation to “gay” identity makes sense in, say, the Western movement to legalize same-sex marriage. I would like to see a Japanese perspective on the idea of same-sex marriage or legal same-sex unions, as this would be the culmination of legal consideration and consideration of homosexuality in any country at present.

  • Serbian-Canadian in Mainland China

    I am so tired of Unitedstatesians behaving as if the world is centred around them alone. For chrissake, Freud in mid-1800s?! Intollerance “in the West” developping “in the 1950s” and “with McCarthyism”???!!!!!

    For your information Freud wasn’t even born until well into the second half of the 19th century and he left Vienna because of Nazism, the same Nazism that sent 25,000 German and Dutch gay men to die in concentration camps (luckily some of them survived, but not many).

    Freud died in 1939, so he certainly wasn’t discovering anything in mid-19th cenutry.

  • Norse

    Living in Norway, and thus part of the west i cant say i identify much with the americans. Like Japanguy says, because of strong sexual discrimination “gay” became a label in its own way that some homosexuals adopted to feel a sense of belonging to a group. It gave them a sense of security and pride, which helped them become more vocal and establish their civil rights.
    Since their civil rights were long since established here, there has been no need for them to flaunt their sexuality, because it is simply an accepted way of being. It has become normalized.

  • Dusty Dietrich

    I’m an openly “gay” ;) American student who will be traveling to Japan soon to study abroad but after reading this article and some of the comments I feel as though I’m stepping on a land mine. There is a certain misconception that all Americans are prejudiced self cetered y and ignorant. I believe that those qualities are universal and exist in every culture worldwide. Another misconception is that American homosexuals don’t encounter violent opposition or ostricization. This is not true. I live in a very rural part of the country where those things are much more common. I came out to my family and school when I was thirteen and experience extreme mental emotional and physical trauma. My own family took turns severely beating me for a few years in an attempt to scare me straight out of feat of something they could not understand. I had also experienced many attempts to end my life by my classmates and peers while teachers and faculty and even my family turned a blind eye instead of doing their job and protecting me. I’m not saying that as an American I had it the worst but where was this “American gay dream” way of life when I was being emotionally and physically mutilated if the people who were supposed to protect me didn’t enforce the said law’s that supposedly gave homosexuals the freedom to not live a lie. Thankfully I had great friends who were there to help support and guide me through my own personal hell on earth but others aren’t as fortunate and there’s no one in the world that can make me believe there are other countries that are either more or less aggressive towards homosexuality when violence and kindness are universal characteristics that exist globally. This article and comments have been helpful and intriguing thank you all for your insight into international views of homosexuality and though my rants may seem naive My question is how will I as a 21 year old American foreign student simulate in a country such as Japan or more simply put how can a foreign homosexual fit in with a society that has such said views on homosexuality. Are there any resourses I can utilize now to maybe make the transition a bit smoother? What should I do now? Any suggestions and advise would be greatly appreciated..

  • Watanabe

    Dusty Dietrich: I don’t know if this reply is too late for you to read. But anyhow. I’m a gay man that used to live in Japan, and my experience is that the concept of homosexuality is less talked about in Japan. So if you came out to the average person, they would be like “Huh? Is that possible? Why do you like boys?” But you do not risk being verbally or physically abused for coming out. Kissing or holding hands in public can be a no no though. People will look, but no one will say anything. But they would’ve looked if you kissed a girl as well. PDA is just something that is considered rude in Japan, especially among the older generations.

    There are however a lot of Japanese people that are a lot more knowledgeable and accepting than you expect. Some of my more artsy japanese friends even though it was cool and wanted to learn more about the gay subculture, wahtever that is.

    So, you should be afraid about being gay in Japan. The language barrier is a far bigger problem than you being gay. Trust me.

  • Christopher

    This whole article is bullshit to infinity and beyond. First of all, all Japanese people stay in the closet regardless of if they are straight or gay. Standing out it not seen as okay. Being flamboyant and what so not, that goes for straight Japanese people too. While homosexuality may be legal in America, Japan is a whole lot more accepting of homosexuality than America is. Japanese people are taught to keep everything behind closed doors. They don’t care as long as you don’t flaunt it. Stop spreading bullshit.

    • SKG

      You don’t know what you are talking about.

      I’m a gay male who has lived in japan for the past 6 years, and I can tell you that there is a BIG difference between being a discrete straight to a closeted gay.
      Example, here in japan is very common to see couples holding hands… well, straight couples, because gay couples would NEVER do that in public.
      Straight couples can talk to their families about their relationships… gay men in japan do not ever talk about it, and many even marry (with a woman) because that’s the norm, and then they go to some hattenba (Gay Cruising sites) or something like that.
      ALL of my gay friends are closeted, ALL OF THEM. And it sucks.
      There was this guy I was dating, and I was planning going to his home town. I told him we should rent a room in a hotel or something, and he told me he didn’t wanted to, because it would “rise brows” the fact that he was staying with a friend who came to his home town.

      Also, I was a University Student here in japan, and in my class it was very common to hear other students making fun of gay people.
      I went once with a counselor, when I was having depression problems because of all of this, and the fucking counselor didn’t even knew what to say, he even implied that I should go back to my home country, because in japan that was not normal.

      So with all do respect, FUCK YOU.

      Thanks ^^