TV & Radio
Monday February 27, 8:24 AM
FEATURE: Magazine editor wants to commit himself to support gays
(Kyodo) _ Award-winning writer and editor Noriaki Fushimi is putting his energies into publication of a magazine to support men who have come out of the closet to profess their sexual orientation.
Fushimi, 42, has shown his varied talents since he wrote a book called "Private Gay Life" in 1991 and later a novel, "Majo no Musuko" (a witch's son) for which he won a literary award. He has also been one of the leaders of the gay movement in Japan.
The editor of Queer Japan returns (QJr) compared his journal to Bara Zoku (rose tribe), an exclusive gay magazine that first made its appearance in 1971, about the time when chanson singer Akihiro Miwa's autobiography "Murasaki no Rirekisho" (purple life story) was in the news.
"Bara Zoku expressed the desires of gays," he said. "But (I want) QJr to become a lifestyle magazine for gay people. In other words, there are many (people in Japan) who have grown up to be in a generation of those who have chosen a gay lifestyle...I'd like to be (involved with) them to support them on what they will choose and create in the future."
Kira Aoyama, 56, said he was going all out to be an actor during the second half of the 1960s and that "it was impossible for me to come out (of the closet) because (that) would have been nothing but a scandal."
He gave an excellent performance as an aged gay man in a home for the elderly in a movie titled "La Maison de Himiko" directed by Isshin Inudo and released last year.
Aoyama said he kept being gay secret until he was in his 40s. "While I was in kindergarten," he said, "I didn't like children to tease me as 'a sister boy' and I confronted them every time they said it."
"But when I entered an upper grade in primary school and realized I was gay, I thought I was different from others and I'd have to live a lonely life."
Born into a family running a small clothing store in Matsudo city, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, Aoyama had aspired to be a stage actor since childhood. He studied drama at Toho Gakuen College in the city of Chofu, Tokyo.
He concealed his sexual orientation from other actors until the early 1990s when he met a "wonderful drunken man" at a gay bar in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.
"I was entrusted with production of a drama for the stage at the time," he said. "I went to the bar for the first time after I discovered it in a book. I was not a drinker. I didn't want to appear like a man who was looking for something."
A man who was drunk called out to him and told him: "In truth, something nice rarely happens in this place but everyone comes here hoping to come across a marvelous man. That's nothing you should be ashamed of."
"(The man's words) sounded to me like a message that I should confirm (who I am)," Aoyama said. "My coming out (of the closet) started after that."
Fushimi's magazine will take up AIDS in its next issue. Writer Takahisa Tanabe, 24, proposed it at an editorial conference saying, "My friend tested HIV positive last year and I began to feel it concerned not only him but others as well."
Tanabe works as a salaryman for a Tokyo company where he does not disclose he is gay. However, he revealed his sexual orientation to his parents and brothers several years ago.
"They were surprised at first but accepted me rather cheerfully," he said.
"Such a lighthearted (attitude) was not found in my generation," said Fushimi, who could not tell his late father that he was gay. "That's a distinctive characteristic of sons of postwar baby boomers."
He said those born between 1971 and 1974 are the most cheerful and vigorous group among gay people at present.
Those in the baby boomer generation, he said, affirmed their desires and said "no" to social norms. Perhaps, he mused, that is why gay people born to this generation remain unfettered.
The movement to end discrimination against gay people swung into full force during the 1990s. Fushimi called it "the only social movement that the baby boomer generation did not launch."
Aoyama, who himself belongs to the baby boomer generation, said, "I worried alone about (my being gay) for a long time but I feel that being gay and (the fact that I have worried about it) is connected to the enrichment of a person. If I were not gay, I would not have been able to meet other people as well as myself face to face. However, it would be nice if the day comes when there is no such phrase as 'come out of the closet.'"
Katsuaki Sugiura, a 61-year-old critic of clothing and accessories who makes frequent appearances on TV, said discrimination against gay people remains unchanged in Japan.
Sugiura, who is popularly known as Peeco, said he and his twin brother Osugi "naturally came out (of the closet) when we were children. We were never discriminated against because we were in Yokohama. I rather began having a strong feeling of discrimination after I started taking part in radio programs in 1975."
"I think discrimination still exists without any change (just as it was) 30 years ago," he said. "Japanese men are particularly biased thinking that homosexuals are lying on their futon from morning till night."
"I think gayness is a lifestyle. The discrimination itself may never cease to exist but it would be nice if the number of people who say they do not understand gays' way of life but accept it would grow."