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Women on the LGBT+ spectrum discuss the ups and downs of dating in Japan

26 Comments
By Brooke Larsen

Back when I taught English in Japan, I once led a discussion on coming out. No, this wasn’t some sneaky initiative to promote the gay agenda—the topic was actually in the book! As I went around the room eliciting stories, every single one of my eight fully-grown adult students admitted they’d never met a queer person. Ever! Of course, what they really meant was they’d never met someone who was out.

In Japan, it isn’t a crime to be homosexual, but it’s not exactly accepted either. From my experience, the general narrative accepted by mainstream society is that LGBT+ individuals simply do not exist. Hate crimes and public displays of discrimination are rare, but this may be because queerness is rarely flaunted and violent crimes often go unreported.

Though a significant portion of the population allegedly falls on the LGBT+ spectrum, many queer people are closeted, which makes meeting them a challenge. Traditional ways of finding a partner might not work for someone whose identity or orientation is a secret. I dabbled but had little luck—as a lazy bisexual, I mainly stuck to dating men and being a cis femme (someone who was born female, identifies as female, and dresses like a stereotypical female) so people always assumed I was straight anyway.

In order to get a better look into Japan’s queer dating scene, I enlisted the help of more experienced expats who identified as female. The result: insight into life as an LGBT+ living in Japan. As outsiders, expats simultaneously have an easier time coming out (in general, we aren’t held to the same standards as native Japanese) and a more difficult one (we may not fully comprehend local norms and social cues).

LGBT+ and Japan’s society

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Japan is already a safe place for queers and is steadily improving its stance on gay rights. Queerness is also getting more representation in the media—a "Terrace House" cast member came out on national television, a Japanese lesbian couple who traveled the world spreading awareness about LGBT+ issues received international coverage, and Buzzfeed Japan now hosts a heartwarming and intimate new series interviewing queer folks.

et, there remains a feeling among many that queer people are an “unproductive” burden to society. At least, those were the scathing words of politician Mio Sugita just last year. There’s also a recent case of an Osaka man who wasn’t allowed to attend his same-sex partner’s cremation. These may sound like isolated incidents, but discrimination runs deep among the older and more conservative generations who hold most of the political power. According to global data from the Pew Research Center, 61% of Japanese people over 50 believe homosexuality is unacceptable.

So, it’s no surprise the ladies I interviewed tend to get mixed responses from those they come out to.

Cultural norms and traditions make acceptance difficult

Socorro Dominguez Vidana, a cis-female lesbian from Mexico City, entered Japan’s LGBT+ scene about 12 years ago. “Dating in Japan can be challenging if you do not understand the language and, most importantly, the culture. Tradition, especially for people living in the inaka (countryside), is very embedded and people need to respect that.”

“Being out of the norm, I feel as if in their eyes, I was not fulfilling my duty as a woman,” she told me. However, she pointed out Japanese people tend to be respectful enough not to say such things out loud.

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Could somebody explain what "a cis-female lesbian" is?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I couldn't be bothered to read the rest after paragraph 3. Sorry!

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Finding a LGBT partner in Japan is like panning for gold in your toilet bowl.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Back when I taught English in Japan, I once led a discussion on coming out. No, this wasn’t some sneaky initiative to promote the gay agenda—the topic was actually in the book! 

Good grief. Might as well bring up politics too, lol.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

seadog538

A good old-fashioned lesbian.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I couldn't be bothered to read the rest after paragraph 3. Sorry!

So why even comment?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

seadog538Today  08:35 am JST

“Could somebody explain what "a cis-female lesbian" is?”

For those who have been unable to keep up with evolving language, Google is a great tool.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

There is an LGBT+ SPECTRUM??  Is one end "less extreme" and the other more so??

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

aerimashitaToday 12:20 pm JST

There is an LGBT+ SPECTRUM?? Is one end "less extreme" and the other more so??

Educator60 had a good response that might help you.

Educator60Today 11:39 am JST

For those who have been unable to keep up with evolving language, Google is a great tool.

But here you are: LGBTQIA+

Lesbian

Gay

Transgender (M to F, F to M)

Queer, Questioning

Intersex

Asexual

"plus" = agender, non-binary, non-conforming, pansexual, omnisexual ... basically, anyone whose gender/sexuality/identify isn't specifically included.

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/11/27/the-ultimate-lgbt-glossary-all-your-questions-answered

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Could somebody explain what "a cis-female lesbian" is?

A female who is sexually attracted to other females. I know what you are thinking, a lesbian is a woman so the 'cis-female' bit is redundant, and I would agree with you, but there are people out there (men, mostly) who think biological men can be lesbians and if you don't agree with this you area bigot. I kid you not.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Sounds complicated, like a minefield where you can be blown to bits for accidentally taking a wrong step. Glad that I am straight as a corkscrew.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Could somebody explain what "a cis-female lesbian" is?

The article explain cis femme, that should be not so difficult to imagine :

I mainly stuck to dating men and being a cis femme (someone who was born female, identifies as female, and dresses like a stereotypical female)

Here are other : LGBTTQQIAAP ; LGBTTIQQ2SA ; QUILTBAG

As time go, they try to add the people that were forgotten.

The name with + is often shorter so easier to understand and memorize so are the ones which are more used in media.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Just let people be whatever the hell they want to be, all these labels are getting tiresome

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Asexual

They can reproduce through binary fission (split it two) like amoebas. Cool!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I don't mind what gender people are or what their sexual preferences are either. I would like to state however that I do not find these things remotely interesting in themselves. If you want my attention, do so with your actions, your opinions, your creative output. I couldn't care less about how you describe yourself.

Prince is one of my heros and his song "Controversy" deals with this better anything I could say myself. What mattered about him what his music, not whether he was "black or white" or "straight or gay". That was 28 years ago, long before any talk of a "spectrum".

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What mattered about him what his music, not whether he was "black or white" or "straight or gay". That was 28 years ago, long before any talk of a "spectrum".

People who are not as talented as Prince now have a way to get attention. It is tiresome if you play along. Otherwise it's just a childish cry for attention.

I think people should be able to do what they want. When they try to force others to play their game of newly invented realities, it's another story. Ironic, because I used to be immersed in this scene. Mostly because it was filled with fun and interesting people. Seems like all the humorless people have joined in now.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I miss the old days when you were either gay or straight. The finer details were up to you and nobody cared.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I’m loving how all the straight cis men have such strong opinions on how gender identity is unimportant.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I’m loving how all the straight cis men have such strong opinions on how gender identity is unimportant.

I love how other people think they get to decide that no one else is allowed to have an opinion.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why do some gender identities get their own special label included in the LGBT.... acronym yet others are lumped together in a little "+" at the end.

Seems to me that the "community" has it's own pecking order where some identities are more important than others.

Reminds me of Animal Farm. "All animals are equal, except some are more equal than others".

4 legs good, 2 legs bad.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Also, with all the fuss about people being called by the gender or orientation they choose, I don't remember ever being asked if I was ok being identified as a 'cis male'...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tell you what guys - when your gender starts being fired, harassed, abused, refused your human rights and dignity, beaten up, and murdered just for being your gender, you get to have a civil rights movement, too. How's that for a good compromise?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I’m loving how all the straight cis men have such strong opinions on how gender identity is unimportant.

Isn't this trying to have it both ways? Other people are supposed to be gender blind, treating men and women equally, but to also give great reverence to whether someone considers themself a man or woman. Can people's self-identities not be gender blind? You can only be unhappy as a man if your definition of "man" is too narrow to include yourself. Choose a different definition! I say this as a man who is skinnier than most women. Physically weaker than some women too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I work in a large company and the trend now is that women cannot be fired. The men however, are quite expendable.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Tell you what guys - when your gender starts being fired, harassed, abused, refused your human rights and dignity, beaten up, and murdered just for being your gender, you get to have a civil rights movement, too. How's that for a good compromise?

Women have suffered throughout history due to their sex, not gender. They are not the same. My sex is female, I do not conform to cultural gender stereotypes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When will people realize gender isn't a choice. It's biological.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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