I am finally admitting to myself that I am gay, but too afraid to come out to my family and friends. My parents are religious and would freak if they knew. But I need to talk to someone or else I will go crazy. Is there a gay community in Tokyo that you could recommend? I feel so alone and need to know that there are other gay people like me out there. Please help me. —Confused
We passed your question on to the good people at TELL. Here’s what they had to say:
It is great to hear you are feeling comfortable enough with yourself to accept your sexual orientation; this is an important first step. Please know that being gay is no different from someone having blue eyes or curly hair—it’s not a choice or a lifestyle but a fact of life. We are all the same, whether you are attracted to someone of the same sex, opposite sex, tall, short…
Speaking to families and friends is something many people from the LGBTQ community have concerns about, and a topic all our Lifeline counselors can support you with. At some point it will be important to speak with your parents and friends; hopefully they will give you the unconditional support and love you deserve. Please know that if they do not, this is their problem and not a failing on your behalf.
Sadly, bigotry and discrimination are still major factors that create barriers, risks and stressors for many LGBTQ people around the world. While Japan does not penalize same-sex relationships, homophobia, marginalization and stigmatization still create many obstacles for gay men and women in this country. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of our selves, and should never lead to discrimination or abuse. I can hear you feel very alone. As you begin to speak publicly about your sexual orientation, developing a support network will be important. You may have good friends back home you feel you can speak to, and if your parents are not supportive, you may have other relatives you could reach out to.
In Japan, there is a growing range of support for LGBTQ people. Stonewall Japan is a good starting point, along with The Tokyo Rainbow English Speaking Society and the OCCUR helpline. Each year, an increasing number of people join the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade to help raise awareness and support equal rights, an event TELL is proud to be a part of. Next year, we hope to have a stand, as well as participate in the march—you are very welcome to join us. You are not alone.
Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year. Or visit their website at www.telljp.com
If you want to “Ask Metropolis Anything” about life in Tokyo, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll find the most appropriate people to answer your queries.