lifestyle

The ABCs of LGBT+ in Japan

12 Comments
By Kelsey Lark

LGBT+ issues have been a huge topic this past year. In October 2018, hit reality TV show Terrace House welcomed their first openly bisexual cast member Shunsuke Ikezoe. In February 2019, thirteen gay and lesbian couples sued the Japanese government in a bid to legalize same-sex marriage. In May of this year, the biggest lesbian bar in Tokyo got called out for refusing entry to a transgender woman at a women-only event. And in more positive news, at the beginning of this month, Ibaraki became the first prefecture in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships.

With topics coming up more frequently than ever in the news, on TV shows, and even in everyday conversations, having a grasp of Japanese LGBT+ vocabulary is sure to come in handy. And if you’re a friend of Dorothy yourself, reviewing these terms before your next trip to a Japanese LGBT+ space will be great to help you describe your own identity and understand the various labels yourself.

While you might get by sometimes with simply saying English words in a katakana-like way (for example, “gay” translates pretty easily into ゲイ or gei), saying the Japanese word ノンケ (nonke) will communicate to Japanese people that you’re actually straight much smoother than saying ストレート (sutoreto).

Let’s take a look at some of the general vocabulary first, then go down the list of LGBTQIA.

General LGBT+ terms

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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Which one is it?

LGBTQIA or LGBT+

Isn't lumping QIA people into a mere + category exclusionary and a violation of their human rights?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Why would an elision of a few letters for purposes of brevity be a violation of human rights? There is only so much space to write! Besides, I have never once heard anyone complain that their specific letter wasn't written down. You have to be pretty thick skinned to be LGBTQIA.

We face much worse human rights abuses on a daily basis than the truncation of our initialism.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

How many more letters are needed to describe the complete spectrum of being?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

nonke (ノンケ) is actually gay slang for a straight person, and straight people don't know it. It comes from ノンゲイ.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In opposition to the writer of this article, LGBT is not a huge issue in Japan-I meet over 100 Japanese per week and not one of them has mentioned the LGBT issue- it one!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

not one!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

kurisupisuToday  07:41 pm JST

In opposition to the writer of this article, LGBT is not a huge issue in Japan-I meet over 100 Japanese per week and not one of them has mentioned the LGBT issue- it one!

Why would a straight person bring up any topic regarding LGBTQ+ issues with another straight person, especially when the topic tends to be personal/taboo in the culture?

It’s a huge issue among us and our allies, and if you’re not in one of those groups you’re not going to be included in the conversations about it.

I also find find it likely that any LGBTQ+ in your vicinity would not open up to you, because I doubt you hide your homophobia.

We can always tell.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The most insightful thing I have heard spoken on this issue was by Stefano Gabbana (of Dolce&Gabbana):

“I’m just surprised at how, still to this day, people call me gay. But why ‘gay’ in reality, I am a man. Why should we define men? I’m biologically a man, in the sense that I am a male or like a woman. At my place they could call her ‘gay’ but if she’s a woman she is a female. The word ‘gay’ is just a word, an invented word that is used to identify people, but I don’t want to be identified or classified based on my sexual choice. Homosexuality has always existed, it’s not new. I am not gay, I am a man. That’s it. They are all associations. But I don’t want to be associated or classified with anything because I don’t need to be defended by anyone, I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m just a man. I even created a t-shirt that says, ‘I am a man, not gay’ which I will soon wear. I am saying that there are just human rights and that’s it. The most important thing is being human, with no other definitions. These distinctions are absurd and they are used in politics or by other entities to exploit situations in their favor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why would some minority issue become a ‘huge issue’ amongst the majority?

And why are LGBTs always trying to politicize their sexuality?

Far from having homophobia, I just don’t really give a toss!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In opposition to the writer of this article, LGBT is not a huge issue in Japan-I meet over 100 Japanese per week and not one of them has mentioned the LGBT issue- it one!

Indeed, and one should wonder who is really behind this movement, and why.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

bfarm, you don't actually understand that quote if you think he is speaking out against GLBTQIA+ taking political action to gain equal rights. What is he is saying is that we should not need labels for people because everyone is exactly the same - human beings.

Actually, his stance is well-known and not news to me or many others in the community, and a lot of people in the community disagree with him. Some of us like their label, and enjoy being different and not blending in.

I'm in between, in that I understand both sides and think that everyone should be able to use any label they want for themselves, or none at all, as they so chose.

Either way, political action for equal rights is very much needed, and a rich fashion designer who has had the privilege of living and working among people who accepted him isn't excatly a great spokesperon for the rest of us.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Raw BeerJuly 21 08:28 am JST

In opposition to the writer of this article, LGBT is not a huge issue in Japan-I meet over 100 Japanese per week and not one of them has mentioned the LGBT issue- it one!

Indeed, and one should wonder who is really behind this movement, and why.

As I said before, just because you, a straight person with no gay friends, has not heard people talking about GLBTQIA issues in Japan, doesn't mean it isn't a big issue.

As for who is behind it? Everyone, except the people who are homophobic, obviously.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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