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LGBT+ in Japan

In Japan records of homosexuality date back to ancient times, The term Nanshoku or Danshoku ( 男色 ) literally reads as “Male Colours”. The character for Colour () is the same as for the character “Sexual Pleasure” So it could be read as “Male sexual pleasure”. There are a lot of obscure references in ancient Japanese literature that point to same sex love. So obscure however that it’s unsure if it’s actual gay relationships or ‘just’ the declaration of love to same sex friends.

In history there are different sorts of gay relationships written. For instance; Buddhist monks, priests or abbot would take young adolescent boys under their wings as an Acolyte. ( An acolyte is an assistant or follower assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession.)
Usually these were young prepubescent boys. These relationships we’re always structured by age but they were told to treat the relationship seriously. When the boy would come of age the relationship would dissolve. These traditions were carried into the religion and made fun of as most gods and especially the gods of the first generations must have all been gay because there were no women.

In the military there was the same kind of structure, though if the younger less experienced male agreed the older “Nenja” would engage in an exclusive relationship and teach the “Wakashu” martial arts, etiquette but also sex. This lasted until death or once the younger male came of age they were free to see other males or women or acquire their own “Wakashu”.


As Japanese society became pacified, the middle classes adopted many of the practices of the warrior class.. Male prostitutes (kagema), who were often passed off as apprentice kabuki actors and who catered to a mixed male and female clientele, did a healthy trade into the mid-19th century despite increasing restrictions. Many of these prostitutes, as well as many young kabuki actors, were sold as children to the brothel or theatre, typically on a ten-year contract. Young kabuki actors often worked as prostitutes off-stage, and were celebrated in much the same way as modern media stars are today, being much sought after by wealthy patrons, much like in the book and the oscar movie Memoirs of a Geisha, which depicts the life of a young girl being sold to an Okiya and when she comes of age wealthy men bid on her virginity. Though Geisha were absolutely not prositutes, the Oiran however was, See the movie Sakuran if you would like to know more about those..

Male prostitutes and actor-prostitutes serving male clientele were originally restricted to the wakashū age category, as adult men were not perceived as desirable or socially acceptable sexual partners for other men. During the 17th century, these men (or their employers) sought to maintain their desirability by concealing their coming-of-age and this way extending their “non-adult” status into their twenties or even thirties; this eventually led to an alternate, status-defined shudō relationship which allowed clients to hire “boys” who were, in reality, older than themselves.

Modern Japan
Though there is no law against Homosexuality. A same sex couple is not recognized in Japan. Marriage in other countries is also not acknowledged, so they are not eligible for legal protection. There is no adoption plan for same sex couples or IVF pregnancy access for lesbians but unlike South Korea LGBT people can serve in the military.

A majority of Japanese citizens are reportedly in favor of accepting homosexuality, with a recent poll indicating that 54 percent agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society whilst 36 percent disagreed, with a large age gap. Although many political parties have not openly supported or opposed LGBT rights, there are several openly LGBT politicians in office. A law allowing transgender individuals to change their legal gender post-sex reassignment surgery was passed in 2002. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is banned in certain cities.

n-parade-a-20150427-870x453Tokyo Rainbow Pride has been held annually since 2012, with attendance increasing every year. A 2015 opinion poll found that a majority of Japanese support the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

The gay magazine Adonis of the membership system was published in 1952. There is a gay magazine that was first published in the 1970s.

With the rise of visible gay community and the attendant rise of media for gay audiences, the Hadaka Matsuri (“Naked Festival”) has become a fantasy scenario for gay videos.

Gei-comi (“gay-comics”) are gay-romance themed comics aimed at gay men. While yaoi comics often assign one partner as an “uke”, or feminized receiver, gei-comi generally depict both partners as masculine and in an equal relationship. Another common term for this genre is bara, stemming from the name of the first publication of this genre to gain popularity in Japan, Barazoku. Yaoi works are massive in number, with much of the media created by, and for, women more often than not. In the west, it has quickly caught on as one of the most sought-after form of pornography. There is certainly no disparity between yaoi as a pornographic theme, vs Yuri.

Lesbian-romance themed anime and manga is known as yuri (which means “lily”). it is used to describe female-female relationships in material and is typically marketed towards straight people, homosexuals in general or lesbians, despite significant stylistic and thematic differences between works aimed at the different audiences. Another word that has become popular in Japan as an equivalent term to Yuri is “GL” (short for “Girls’ Love” in opposite to “Boys’ Love”). There are a variety of yuri titles (or titles that integrate yuri content) aimed at women, such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, Oniisama e…, Maria-sama ga Miteru, Sailor Moon (most notably the third season, as well as the fifth season), Strawberry Shake Sweet, Love My Life, etc.; and there are a variety of yuri titles of anime such as Kannazuki no Miko, Strawberry Panic!, Simoun, and My-Hime. There is a long-time running manga magazine in Japan that focuses solely on yuri stories: Comic Yuri Hime which gained merges from its other subsidiary comics and currently runs as the only Yuri Hime named magazine. Other magazines and anthologies of Yuri that have emerged throughout the early 21st century are Mebae, Hirari, and Tsubomi (the latter two ceased publication before 2014).


Source: google + Wikipedia


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