When Tokyo last hosted the Olympics, in 1964, Itsuo Masuda was deeply depressed, struggling with his sexuality. This year he watched openly gay and transgender athletes compete with pride.
The 2020 Tokyo Games has been described as the most diverse Olympics yet in terms of participation by sexual minorities, with OutSports reporting a record 179 out LGBTQ athletes taking part.
It’s a world away from Masuda’s recollection of Tokyo’s first Games.
Being LGBTQ “was a big taboo, absolutely!”
“It had to be a secret. I am sure there were LGBTQ people around, but no one talked about it,” he told AFP .
Now 73, Masuda is now an out gay man and owner of gay bar “Kusuo”, a well-known spot in the city’s LGBTQ district Shinjuku Nichome where he once hosted Freddie Mercury, but he had a difficult time as a teenager.
“I admired men, but I didn’t even know that it was about my sexuality. I was so troubled by it,” said Masuda, who was 16 at the time of the 1964 Games.
“I would often write to my mother that I wanted to die, which just made her cry all the time.”
A virus state of emergency means Masuda’s bar is currently closed, and he watches the Games there alone.
But he is delighted to see how things have changed from his childhood, and even improved from the last Games. There are triple the number of out athletes participating in Tokyo than in Rio, according to OutSports, a US-based site.
‘Nothing to feel ashamed about’
“We live in a good world now. We can make choices,” he told AFP .
“There’s nothing to feel ashamed about.”
While Japan has some protections for LGBTQ people, it remains the only G7 country that does not recognise same-sex unions, and many couples say they can struggle to rent apartments together and are barred from hospital visits.
And transgender people who wish to change their official documents must meet strict criteria, including being designated as without reproductive capacity, which effectively requires most people to be sterilised to meet the standard.
|Tom Daley, diving gold medallist in Tokyo, is one of 179 out LGBTQ athletes competing at the Olympics. Photo: AFP|
Tokyo’s Games are the first to feature an openly transgender woman — New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, who competed Monday in the weightlifting.
The 43-year-old, who was born male and competed as a man before transitioning, has faced a tsunami of negative social media commentary, and Masuda expressed sympathy as he watched her compete.
“The poor thing, facing such criticism,” he said. “She is only human.”
‘Pave the way’
The Games come at a time when many in Japan’s LGBTQ community are pushing for greater rights.
Ahead of the Olympics, campaigners said the country was at a “turning point” and that they hoped the Games would help galvanise support for an anti-discrimination bill.
Pride House, a centre of the community that is also part of the official Olympic programme, has said it hopes the Games’ momentum will bring changes both in Japanese sports and society.
Its head, Gon Matsunaka, said Hubbard’s participation in the Games sent a message of inclusivity but warned there was a long road ahead for LGBTQ people, both in Japan and abroad.
“They shouldn’t need to be courageous just because they are transgender,” he said.
“We need to make a world in which those people who have long been left out of sports can enjoy taking part just like everyone else.”
Masuda said Hubbard’s presence would “pave the way for future generations”.
“We’ll remember this Tokyo Olympics decades from now and think ‘Oh, that’s how it used to be’,” he said.
“Eventually it will be natural to see it (LGBTQ participation) as normal,” he added.
“We’ll just need to live a little longer so we can watch the fun.”
- Gymnasts in Tokyo show how Olympics can pass coronavirus challenges
- Why LGBTQ families like mine are scared and scrambling
- Biden launches program to turn out LGBTQ vote
- Xi holds talk with Japan's new leader
- Ignoring Human Rights Abuses, Mainstream Media Gush Over North Korea’s ‘Charm’
- 12th Mekong-Japan Summit opens
- Australians will 'FINALLY enjoy overseas holidays in 2021' as the government vows to open coronavirus travel bubbles with key countries - so where will your first trip be?
- Human Rights Campaign Readies for Sweeping LGBT Agenda with Biden
- 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit held online
- Conservationists get their talons out for Japan's owl cafes
- U.S., Australia, India and Japan Begin Joint Navy Drills, China Defends Air and Sea Claims Ahead of Election
- German Olympics group condemns vandalism of Jewish memorial
- Protect Poland's LGBT+ community, urge top diplomats
- Leaders calls for enhancing cooperation at Mekong-Japan summit
- Jason Whitlock Claims ‘White Liberals’ Rig ‘Olympics’ to ‘Diminish Black Humanity’
- How a 21-year-old LGBTQ climate activist toppled a longtime South S.F. council incumbent
- Full Text: Keynote speech by President Xi Jinping at opening ceremony of 3rd China International Import Expo
- VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 14 (updated hourly)
- 100 best Netflix series to watch right now
- Making sense of 'orthodoxy' at secular and religious colleges
'Only human': Japan's LGBTQ community lauds more open Olympics have 839 words, post on tuoitrenews.vn at August 4, 2021. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.