Monday, August 17, 2009

Why are Japanese gays still in such a bind?

Abe , a virtual or second-reality friend from Phoenix, (who used to be active here on Tribe), asked me a question about the plight of gay men as a subculture in Japan.

SEE Abe's POST COMMENT at the bottom of this entry. (This is a repost of an entry on my blog and Otoko-Gay (blog):

He wrote recently via a blog comment about Japanese gay men and their seeming lack of progress in liberalization and progressive movement / development of gay equal rights, (including gay marriage / civil unions), freedom from prejudice and discrimination, and better social status as compared with other Asian nations - not to mention North America or Europe. See his message the bottom). Although I was apologizing for not answering his questions, and then actually started answering it.

Before I forgot the gist of my thought on this interesting and difficult issue to ponder to decided that I had better blog what I had uncovered so far.

My message in response to a comment from Abe (phoenixkid), who is was partly brought up in Japan (a separate and complex story worth reading elsewhere).

Dear Abe,
I am still thinking about the question you wrote - since it's a really important one to me. But I have to finish several projects by the time I leave for Spain next week (Sept 7-12) so I probably will not try to answer it in a full blog entry -- (it probably takes at least a multi-page article or even a book to adequately respond). Perhaps that'll be my next book (and only one - if you don't count the tons of writing of done on my various blogs).
I am in a writer's mood (and mode) now so it's both a good and bad (overbearing) thing.

I saw your photo (cap and sock) was picked for a Flickr group. You are soooooo sexy.. and you seem to be getting sexier by the month. I am envious of your boyfriend / lover/ husband.. he should appreciate you and you him too. My Japanese bf is not sure whether he appreciates even himself... so no wonder we're always about to break-up (just my attitude - -he seems oblivious to the nature and fragility of our relationship most of the time.. or at least he can't express it.

So the route of the 'problem' may be that they don't realize there is even a problem.
Also Japanese self-identity is not clearly definable in the same way as Western people.
Most of Japanese society is very clannish, tribal, and closed off in very separate and often non-interactive groups.. so being gay is just one of the sub-groups. And gay men don't feel they are particularly left out - anymore than any other person is also left out of a lot of sub-groups. There is only one mainstream in the population in Japan, but it is absolutely splintered into a million different streams within the 'mainstream.'

Therein may lie part of the answer to your question about why Japanese gay society has not progressed like most of the rest of the Asian (and the world). So.... I did in fact.. somewhat answer the question (partly... at least) that have been apologizing for not doing so.

Abe wrote me via a blog comment (on Tribe ->

Been awhile, they banned at work so I am rarely on. Nice blog btw, although I think you are a little obsessed with young naked guys. ha
You know... I saw these travel shows from logoonline on Asia out of the 4 Asian locations: HK, Bangkok, Korea and Japan, Out of the ones that they had on there, Japan's scene was pitiful; there just seemed like there is such oppression and hardly anywhere to go out if you are gay and want to meet other gay men.
Is that true? (He knows that I live most of the year in Tokyo).
When I was there I was completely in the closet and totally detached from Japanese society so I really don't know what it is like.
What are your thoughts and why do you feel the gays there are in still such a bind?
---------- My partial answer to the question forms the basis of the posting above. ------------

Mahalo, Domo Arigato, じゃあ また。(jaa mata = see ya!)

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