A big hooray for Taiga Ishikawa who–two Sundays ago–became the first openly gay elected politician in Japan. The 36-year old writer/activist published a book titled Where is my Boyfriend? in 2002, and runs a non-profit that hosts events for gay men. He just won a seat in the local assembly for Toshima Ward.
I know many gay Japanese men who moved here to San Francisco because of the lack of support and acceptance back home. When I grew up in Tokyo, gay men in the public eye were mostly just parodies of themselves on variety shows, or cross dressers, or just totally below the radar.
Ishikawa’s a great advocate for LGBT issues in Japan because he can talk about them without alienating the more sexually conservative masses. In the video below, for example, he distinguishes between transsexuals and gays in a very colloquial, non-preachy tone. “I don’t want to wear a skirt,” he says with a friendly laugh. “I just want to love men as men.” And then he talks about how he discovered he was gay, felt scared and closeted for a long time, and then eventually found out about others like himself on the Internet.