24 November 2012

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 6

Since I seem to be getting a new question a day now I figured I should pick up my pace and see about answering a question a day for a while.

If you have a question to add to the growing list you can leave it in this post.

Today's question comes from reader AJ:

Thank you for providing a space for us to ask questions. Homosexuality in Japan seems to have adopted a Western-style prejudice, unlike historical Japan, in which samurai often had young boyfriends as companions in and out of bed. I remember Subaru Shibutani getting in trouble when he agreed to do a gay scene in an early drama (suggested sex only--it was a family drama). Are there now or have there ever been any Johnny's talents who were gay? Would that be a total career ender if one of them ever "came out"?

Want to start out by putting out there that I am definitely no expert in this matter. I do have some knowledge about it from my Asian Studies classes and what I have picked up from reading about the topic in new articles, but I know even then my knowledge is surface at best.

From what I understand pre-modern ideas about homosexuality in Japan was on par with the other major East Asian views on it, it was something someone did but it was not what they were. So if a man had sex with another man it did not make him homosexual, it just meant he did something that was homosexual. And this was tolerated because those samurai would have to marry a girl at some point to have kids with and pass along their family name, which was a very important thing for Japanese families during that time and even today one of the main pressures homosexuals get from their family is to marry and have children.

With the Meiji era the pressure to have a traditional family unit clamped down on tolerance for homosexuality. But with the modern era came the modern idea of homosexuality, it is something that you are, not just something you can do from time to time. This change of definition of the term and what it entails makes it hard to compare how homosexuality was once treated in society compared to the more modern take on it as it is not really the same thing.

So if there is a surfacing of Western style prejudice it is because homosexuality in Japan has taken on a Western style meaning of being something that you are. That and the fact that Japan has been known as a rather conservative nation so new ideas are not always going to be met with acceptance. But there is some hope for the LGBT community in Japan as 2011 saw the first openly gay politician elected into office and there is an openly transgendered politician that was not only elected in 2003 but re-elected in 2007. So there are at least some small victories that one can only hope will lead to larger ones later on.

I do not believe there have been any Johnny's that have been openly gay. There are rumors but nothing that can be proven in anyway. If one of them came out as openly gay it would probably depend on who they are for what it would do for their careers. I think for the older Johnny's it would not be much of an issue as most have long left the heart throb/prince status that the younger groups have. The younger groups may have issues. Maybe if it was one of the less popular members it would not matter much but I doubt that if one of the popular members/front men of a group will get a lot of pushing if they came out, seeing as the fan base for those groups are mostly girls and the appeal of these groups are for them to be boys that they can imagine as potential boyfriend material.

That said I think it would be great if there is any Johnny's that is gay that would come out publicly. Sure they probably will not find it easy to be openly gay and avoid not being stuffed in the stereotypes that most openly gay entertainers in Japan adhere to, but I am sure it would be helpful to the LGBT community at large. Much like how celebrities in the U.S. have come out publicly to give other members of the LGBT a role model to look up to showing that they can be out and proud and still do well in life without being a stereotype I think having a Johnny's come out could have the same affect. Of course like I mentioned it would be best for it to be one of the older ones because they would have a lot more say in how they are treated and want to present themselves compared to the younger ones.

Personally I cannot imagine what it must feel like not being able to be honest and open about your sexuality but I can only assume it is not the most pleasant of experiences. While I doubt their sexuality will change how I feel about any of the members of Johnny's I would want them to be able to live as they wish and not feel like they have to hide a part of them in fear of people hating them for something as innocent as loving someone of their own gender.


Anonymous said...

very intersting questions, and a good response too.

i didn't know that Samurai often had 'boyfriends'.

regarding being gay, from what I sometimes read and see in the web, a lot of girls have a fascination with yaoi/guy-to-guy romance. have you seen Ouran Host Club? i think it would be cool if two of Johnny's would be like the twins in that series. :P

but seriously, i wouldn't really care if a johnny's idol, or any other idol or person is gay or not.

Thennary Nak said...

The BL/yaoi market in Japan is big, which is why you have places like Otomeroad in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo.

Johnny's do some fan service that play up the BL factor, but mostly at concerts.