“Don’t expect anything to change if you won’t,” writes makeup artist, Buddhist monk and LGBTQ advocate Kodo Nishimura in his heartfelt memoir and self-help guide, “This Monk Wears Heels.”

Most self-help books espouse this aphorism in one form or another. Nevertheless, it doesn’t feel blindly optimistic coming from Nishimura, especially in the context of hard-won lessons from his own path to self-love, coming out and living life on his own terms in Japanese society. Instead, it’s a gentle exhortation to take responsibility for one’s actions in the face of difficult circumstances.

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