Rainbow parade celebrates LGBT equality push

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Some 3,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people paraded through Tokyo’s Shibuya district Sunday afternoon to demonstrate their hope that Japanese society will continue to forge ahead with recent moves to embrace equality and diversity.

In a nation where prejudice against sexual minorities persists, the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade has sought to counter the trend by openly spotlighting LGBT residents and spreading their voices.

But this year, LGBT participants and proponents seemed particularly joyous, emboldened by what they see as a blossoming of LGBT-friendly moves by municipalities and companies.

“The mood is definitely different this year. All the flyers or other goods we have prepared for visitors are disappearing like mad,” said female-to-male transgender Fumino Sugiyama,one of the event’s chief organizers.

Last month, an unprecedented ordinance passed by the Shibuya Ward Assembly in Tokyo saw the district become the first in the nation to issue legally nonbinding certificates that would declare same-sex partnerships as “equivalent to marriage,” allowing them to be treated on a par with married couples in terms of hospital visits and apartment rentals.

Amid the surge in public interest in LGBT issues, organizers decided to extend the festival to two days for the first time, Sugiyama added.

“Since sexuality is something invisible, the issue of LGBT people tends to be regarded as nonexistent unless they make their voices heard,” he said. “The purpose of this event is to make LGBT people visible, but do it in a cheerful, funny way.”

Indeed, parade participants were dressed in an array of gorgeous, attention-grabbing attire, with some attempting to emulate pop diva Lady Gaga and others proudly wielding rainbow flags, a well-known symbol of LGBT equality.

This year also saw numerous companies — including Google, ad giant Dentsu Inc. and clothing retailer Gap Inc. — join in on the fun by setting up booths. Employees from 11 financial industry firms, including Nomura Holdings and JPMorgan Chase & Co., marched as well, holding up placards declaring their companies’ commitment to LGBT equality and diversity.

“Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be,” the sign from Goldman Sachs read.

Before the parade, lesbian couple Rei and Megumi, who asked to be identified only by their first names, said the public trend in Japan is definitely toward embracing LGBT people.

“In this age of diversity, we are no different from non-LGBT people. There is nothing special about us,” said Megumi, 26.

Kazumi Nakamura, a 51-year-old gay man who was legally married to his partner, Peterjan Bussink, in Holland in 2001, said Japan significantly lags other industrialized nations in developing legal systems that recognize same-sex partnerships of any sort.

There are also some conservative politicians who openly dismiss the idea of same-sex marriage as a threat to traditional family values, he said.

“We’re not asking for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Japan so we can destroy something,” Nakamura said. “Rather, we’re merely asking to create something new so we can be a part of society.”

The latest data released by Dentsu showed Thursday that LGBT residents account for 7.6 percent of the population, up 2.4 percent from its previous online survey in 2012. It also said LGBT people account for ¥5.94 trillion of the nation’s spending.

  • Times are changing for the best <3

  • Terence Nomoto

    to the social engineers – you cant foist a solution without first creating the problem reaction, your political correctness does not work here, we don’t have an issue with any of this, it’s a non-issue.

    Worry about what to do with melted coriums at Dai ichi.

    • R0ninX3ph

      Nice red herring there Terence. “There is no problem with equality for LGBT people because I say so!” “We should be focusing on Fukushima and the nuclear problem instead!”

      You know…. most people can do more than one thing at a time, we can support more than one cause at a time, but I like this false dichotomy you have going on… Either we fight for equality for LGBT people or we fight to get Fukushima dealt with, and only one of those things can happen…

    • Shiki Byakko

      >we don’t have an issue with any of this, it’s a non-issue.
      Except you do.

      Just talk with people who are gay, and they will tell you all about it.

      Your ignorance on how is this a problem does not make it a non-problem, it just makes you ignorant.

    • Johnny LoveFive

      try restarting them, they’re paying a fortune for electricity right now!

  • abnormal people

    • R0ninX3ph

      So called “abnormal people” whose lives have absolutely no bearing or influence on yours. Let them do whatever the hell they want. They aren’t bashing on you for being “normal”, they don’t oppress you for being “normal”, leave them the eff alone.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Good luck to them and congratulations to those companies that support the event. We need to push back against the uneducated bigots who oppose this.

    • Dikaiosyne

      “…uneducated bigots…”

      Why the pejorative? Are you truly making the grand generalization that all “who oppose this” are “uneducated bigots?” Also, by using that pejorative, aren’t you showing an intolerance toward those “who oppose this,” and thus are meeting the definition of “bigot?”

      How can equity prevail without respect from both (or all) sides?

      The article includes the following quote: ‘“Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be”’

      Being ‘diverse’ means opposing viewpoints will exist within a population of individuals or that such viewpoints won’t be suppressed. How can anyone truly celebrate diversity while calling for–or demanding–a heterogeneity of thought on a particular topic?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Perhaps they are saying they wish to fight only the Uneducated bigots, and the educated bigots are okay? Aren’t you applying your own interpretation upon the wording?

        Yes, being diverse means opposing viewpoints exist. You Sir/Madam win the “Pedant Crown of Semantics”. Congratulations.

      • Dikaiosyne

        “Perhaps they are saying they wish to fight only the Uneducated bigots, and the educated bigots are okay?”

        I truly hope you’re not serious.

        “Aren’t you applying your own interpretation upon the wording?”

        Well, speaking of (a species of) Red Herring…

        “Yes, being diverse means opposing viewpoints exist.”

        I wasn’t merely asserting an analytic (Kantian) statement; I was avoiding offering an enthymemic argument.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Oh heavens, you have seen through my thinly veiled sarcasm. Whatever shall I do?

      • Dikaiosyne

        “Whatever shall I do?”

        1) Stay on target. 2) Be constructive. 3) Repeat 1 and 2.

      • R0ninX3ph

        But that isn’t anywhere near as entertaining for me on a slow work day. So….. I’m gonna have to say “Yeah, nah”

      • Dikaiosyne

        Now, that was good for a laugh! :)

      • Shiki Byakko

        I don’t know who you are or what you believe in, but I just oppose people with yin-yang avatars and their lifestyle. I think you are an abhorrent abnormal sick person that needs help.

        Just looking at your post makes me wanna puke, yin-yang loving freak.

        And if you call me stupid or bigot, you are the one who is those things for not respecting my point of view.

      • Dikaiosyne

        This is a mildly-good try, but not all “who oppose” take this (analogous) extreme. Thus, your try clearly demonstrates the Causal Reductionism fallacy.

      • Shiki Byakko

        I never claimed that.
        So you are the one making a straw-man argument, little yin-yang lover boy.

        Tell me what you see as a non extreme argument against gay people, and I’ll make just for you the equivalent analogy.

      • Dikaiosyne

        You’ve thoroughly missed the point. The referent of the term “extreme” I used is neither form nor content, but affect.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Could you please stop the pseudo intellectual language? Your pretentiousness actually goes against you, because what you just said makes absolutely no sense what so ever.

        The use of the word affect makes your argument difficult to understand.
        Do you mean affect in the sense of how people are affected by it?
        Do you mean affect in the sense of how people are moved by it?
        Do you mean affect in the sense of the harm it does?
        Do you mean affect in the sense of the disposition and or inclinations of the person making the statement?
        Do you mean affect in the sense as how verbal they are in their attacks?

        I’m just going to assume the last one, and tell you that a silent bigot is still a bigot.

    • Eagle

      Who is that “We”? The gays/lesbians or the community of those who use pejoratives?

  • Johnny LoveFive

    Of course done in only a way that Japan can do!

  • Rachael Mitchell

    Hope they got the word across to some people. Hope they’re safe

  • Eagle

    A few decades ago gays and lesbians were discriminated and often prosecuted. Now days it is fully permitted, propagated, approved, they are supported and protected as the article shows.

    I sincerely hope it will not be made compulsory for everyone.

    Seeing the unprovoked and approved offenses in these boards, in general, against those who dare have different opinion and reading the deleted messages I think that time is not too far.

  • Eagle

    Hello Mod,

    What did I say that needed to be removed in such a haste?

    Please next time add to the title ” pro gay lesbian site , only LGTB member’s pro comments are approved in the name of freedom of speech.” OMG .So pathetic, so miserable.

  • Eagle

  • Eagle