Gays in China and Japan, homosexuality
Maureen Fan's article "For Gays in China, 'Fake Marriage' Eases Pressure," Washinton Post, February 23, 2007; P.A12, was a very interesting report on the life and troubles of Chinese gays. Until I read this article, I had mistakenly thought that homosexuality was forbidden in China even today. Fan writes:
Ten years after China decriminalized homosexuality and six years after officials removed it from a state list of mental disorders, gay men and lesbians say one of their biggest obstacles is parental pressure to get married. (web)
Hence, today, it is legal to have a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex in China. This is good news. However, Fan stresses that coming out to one's parents is still very hard for gays and lesbians in contemporary Chinese society. This is one of the biggest reasons why they try to choose "fake marriage" with a person of the opposite sex, who is also gay, remaining close friends inside their home. But because their parents and grand parents do not know the truth, they sometimes expect a baby to be born to the married couple. Fan quotes a woman's words who got married with a gey man:
There's just one small problem. "My mother didn't used to talk about grandchildren, but now she sometimes mentions that she would like one." (web)
Then, what about in Japan? I doubt that the situation is probably the same as in China. There are a great number of gay people in our country, but most of them have not come out to their parents. Kabukicho 2chome, Shinjuku, Tokyo, is famous as a gay town, and a number of gay people come to this area every night, but many of them come secretly. I had an opportunity to interview some of them when appearing as a guest on a TV program. They said they had not come out to their family. It is still rare to see a gay couple walking on the street hand-in-hand. When I went to Amsterdam some years ago I was surprised to see gay couples walk hand-in-hand in the central area of the city. A couple of years ago, at a cafe in Osaka city, I saw two young women holding each other just in front of the shop and kissing many times. This was the first, and the last time I ever saw such a scene in a public space in Japan. People passing by were completely ignoring them.
I wonder why Japan became a society intolerant of homosexuality. Before the Meiji period (before 1868), homosexuality was not stigmatized among ordinary people. The Kabuki actors were all males, and they played both men and women on the stage, and some of them prostituted themselves with male customers. Homosexuality was an ordinary love relationship in Buddhist temples and in the world of samurai. In traditional Japanese literature, the word "love (koi)" sometimes meant "homosexual love." Japanese society was, once, very tolerant of homosexuality. But after the Meiji period homosexuality has gradually become a taboo. Some claim that this was because of the homophobia imported from European countries in the Meiji period (19th century). What do you think?
Photo: Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto
-- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org