JAPANsociology

Japan’s homosexuality is becoming common

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A greater amount of gay and transgender characters have begun appearing on Japanese television, with positive portrayals. There are highly successful television series. A number of gay or transgender cultivate such an image as part of their public persona, now.

A number of artists, nearly all male, have begun to speak publicly about their homosexuality, appearing on various talk shows and other programs, their celebrity often focused on their sexuality; twin pop-culture critics Osugi (which means free love and scandals) are an example. Akihiro Miwa, a drag queen and former lover of author Yukio Mishima, is the television advertisement spokesperson for many Japanese companies ranging from beauty to financial products. Kenichi Mikawa, a former pop idol singer who now blurs the line between male and female costuming and make-up, can also regularly be seen on various programs

Some non-gay entertainers have used stereotypical references to homosexuality to increase their profile. Razor Ramon Sumitani a.k.a. Hard Gay (HG), a comedian, shot to fame after he began to appear in public wearing a leather harness, hot pants and cap. His outfit, name, and trademark pelvis thrusting and squeals earned him the adoration of fans and the scorn of many in the Japanese gay community. There is a genre of anime and manga that focuses on gay male romance (and sometimes explicit content) known as yaoi. Yaoi titles are primarily marketed to women, and are commonplace in bookstores. Various terms are used in Japan to refer to yaoi.

“June” which refers to plots containing romance and drama, feature mature, adult male characters. “BL” (“Boys’ Love”) refers to stories that either contain younger characters, or more light-hearted romance (as an alternative to more sexual content). The phrase “shōnen-ai”, translated from Japanese in the past as “boy love”, is used to describe non-sexual homosexuality in either adult male characters or younger male characters. When manga or anime depicts sexual activities between young boys, or young boys with adults (male or female), it is known as “shotacon”, which should not be confused with “shōnen-ai”.

There is also Gei-comi that menans gay-comics. Unlike yaoi comics often assign one partner to a stereotypical heterosexual female role, gei-comi generally depict both partners as masculine and in an equal relationship.

In Japan there is no laws against homosexual activity, and has some legal protections for gay individuals. There are some legal protections for transgender individuals, too. Consensual sex between adults of the same sex is legal. However, The major political parties express little public support for gay rights issues. Despite recommendations from the Council for Human Rights Promotion, the Diet has yet to take action on including sexual orientation in the country’s civil rights code. However, Some political figures are beginning to speak publicly about their own homosexuality. Kanako Otsuji, an assemblywoman from Osaka, came out as a lesbian in 2005. In 2003, Aya Kamikawa became the first openly transgender elected official in Tokyo, Japan.

by Ha SeoIn

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