”Raising Voices. Changing the World. Our Voices, Our Rights."
Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2021, an event to promote the existence of LGBTQ and other sexual minorities in society and celebrate diversity in gender and life, was held from 24 April (Saturday) to 5 May 2021 (Wednesday).
The theme of this year's 10th anniversary is 'Raise your voice. Changing the World; Our Voices, Our Rights."
Under the COVID-19 restrictions, a live talk show "#Pride2021 at home" was delivered with no audience. Here, transvestite performer and writer Bourbonne, and Fumino Sugiyama and Natsumi Yamada, co-chairs of the NPO Tokyo Rainbow Pride and organizers of the event. The event was broadcast on YouTube and Twitter, with a total of approximately 1.6 million viewers, far exceeding the previous event's 450,000 viewers.
The first speaker on Day 1 was Robert Campbell, scholar of Japanese literature and specially appointed professor at Waseda University. Mr Campbell entered into a marriage with his same-sex partner in New York State, USA, in 2017. As same-sex marriage is not recognised in Japan, same-sex partners are not considered family and there were various problems raised from this. She stressed the need for early legislation to act on this, as this gives various difficulties in daily living. Including real estate contracts, not being allowed to sign consent forms for hospital visits and treatment, and not being able to receive employee benefits for spouses.
The point that "I feel that LGBTQ awareness has crossed a breaking point among the people, but theh government has not caught up" is spot on.
Next, TV personality SHELLY stressed the importance of sex education. 'Knowing your own body and knowing the body of the other person leads to an awareness of human rights and respect for others. Sex education is gender education, and it is also 'dating education' to get along with others. She then shared a couple of books.
The first book is The Happiness of the Rainbow (written by Marlon Boond/Jill Twiss and EG Keller), about Marlon, a rabbit kept by the US Vice President, who wants to marry her wonderful boyfriend, but is opposed by a pompous stink bug. (Picture, translated by Rika Hattori, Iwasaki Shoten). It is a bestseller with over 800,000 copies sold in the US.
The other book is The Prince and the Knight (written by Daniel Haak, illustrated by Stevie Lewis, translated by Megumi Kawamura, Okura Publishing). The prince sets off on a journey with his parents to find a bride, but deep down inside he is seeking something more - a different being.
Both show the importance of LGBTQ understanding and respect for individuality.
This was followed by Yoichi Ochiai, media artist, director and associate professor of the Digital Nature Development Research Centre at the University of Tsukuba and research director of the JST CREST xDiversity project, who stated that he did not understand for one millimetre why people are against same-sex marriage when the people they love want to marry each other.
He stressed the potential of science and technology, saying that the use of technology will lead to the realisation of diversity, but also spoke of the importance of a society where the richness of diversity exists, saying that while it is important to use technology to solve inconveniences, sign language, for example, is already part of culture and does not need to be removed.
Tomoyo Abe, from Fuji Television's news department, said that even though she has been involved in Tokyo Rainbow Pride as an 'Ally※, she sometimes reflected on how she had not been 'aware' of the event. This statement shows that it is never easy to recognise diversity.
※Those who are not LGBTQ but who support and assist LGBTQ activism.
The last guest of the day was actress and model Kiko Mizuhara. In response to suggestions that her comments on a programme she had appeared on in the past were LGBTQ discriminatory, she frankly admitted that she had made them in the past due to a lack of knowledge and understanding, and stated that she was now working to raise awareness, now she is an ally. Her frank and strong-willed words and deeds were so convincing that the presenter, Natsumi Yamada, was moved to tears.
On the second day, Youth Pride Japan, a group of teenagers and 20-something members of the NPO Tokyo Rainbow Pride, welcomed TV personality Norichiru and author Yokomasa Ototake to discuss the thoughts and concerns of the younger LGBTQ generation. In response to the concerns expressed by transgender people that they do not feel a sense of self-affirmation even when they receive compliments, Ryuchiru asked, "Isn't it because you are basing your values on other people's values?" He spoke about the idea that it is important to develop values in oneself that make one feel good about theirself, based from his own experiences.
LGBTQ concerns seem to be more likely to arise when people feel barriers between themselves and those around them. The first speaker of the day, comedian Uncle Seyarogai (Lip Service), said: 'Think about how to tell people who would understand if only they had the chance. As he said, "This will lead to an increase in the number of people who will notice", "speaking out" by those involved and allies will lead to the awareness of those around them, and will surely be the first step towards a Japan where it is easier for minorities to live, which is what the youths hope for.
Other guests were Anmika (model and TV personality), Toshiro Hirose (former rugby player and president of HiRAKU Corporation), Terry Ito (director), Mari Natsuki, Mira Hasegawa (model), Mitz Mangrove (singer and TV personality), Miracle Hikaru (TV personality) and YOU (TV personality).
During the two-day, 10-hour live-streaming, frank opinions were expressed from different perspectives. The interactive event left a lasting impression on many people, as viewers also provided their thoughts through Twitter and other channels.
The main visual is the work of Ken Yamada, who was selected from a general public competition.
The design is based on the 17 goals of the SDGs, and the many 'hands' represent solidarity.