“Homosexuality itself -- as long as you don’t say it -- is accepted in Japan. Once you start saying it you put yourself in a box,” says a 29-year-old, describing the situation for many gay women in her country.
“Then sometimes you get in trouble, and maybe you get all the images put on you that come with the word,” she says.In Japan, while there is no law against homosexuality, being gay or lesbian is something that remains generally ‘undesirable’ in mainstream society. Marriage in the country is only permitted for heterosexual couples.
Still, in recent years more lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT) in Japan have trickled into the public eye, including some high-profile celebrities through the powerful channel of the Japanese showbiz industry.
Twenty-five-year-old singer and actress Ataru Nakamura’s popularity is rumored to have grown after the 2006 disclosure of her male-to-female (MTF) gender reassignment, while transsexual celebrities Ai Haruna and Ayana Tsubaki are a common sight on the variety show circuit. Outside the entertainment world, several openly gay politicians have seen the spotlight as well, including Aya Kamikawa, the only openly transgendered official in Japan, who was re-elected for a second four-year term in 2007 to her seat in Setagaya ward, the largest ward in Tokyo.
And this August, the Tokyo Pride parade received international media attention as it returned with gusto after a three-year hiatus.
But there is still a noticeable lack of openly lesbian figures in public arenas, leaving many in the dark when it comes to the lesbian community in Japan. ( Collapse )Source.