Japan: A video of a 17-year-old student’s coming out speech during an English speech contest in Hokkaido Prefecture is starting to get a lot of attention given the cultural stigma that Japanese society still give to the LGBT community.
People are hailing the Japanese youth’s speech as unusual and courageous thing to do in Japan. The student’s full identity is still unknown at this point, and he is only identified by the YouTube video that recorded his rousing speech, reports japandailypress.com.
“Why do gay people have to face discrimination? Is it because they are not heterosexual? Is it a sin to love somebody of the same gender? The law cannot control love or people’s feelings,” the student rhetorically inquired.
The student then spoke of Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech and bravely took advantage of the moment to come out as gay.
“Maybe it will be difficult for me to live my life just like other people. But this is my life. I’m going to live it no matter what people say. Martin Luther King once said “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” When I feel scared I often think of this quote. Making this speech was my first step, I never thought that I could tell people that I am gay.”
He also spoke of the different experiences of LGBT people in Western countries and those in Japan, noting that for many gay people in his home country, life can be lonely, reports advocate.com.
“Many gay people in Japan hide who they really are because they are afraid of being rejected, not with angry words or threats of violence, but with isolation. Being gay in Japan is a very lonely existence,” he said, before noting that he plans to work toward a day when no gay person in Japan will have to feel isolated.
“I have a dream of a world without any prejudice, hate or ignorance which causes blind discrimination against what we can’t understand. I can see the road ahead will be difficult, but I must be brave. Not just for myself, but for other young people like me.”
Japan is infamous for the tremendous pressure the society exerts on its people in trying to be homogeneous – that nobody is different and no one sticks out like a sore thumb. But the student’s speech then turned personal, admitting that he himself was a homosexual forced to hide his true identity and a target for discrimination.
“I have faced discrimination too. I am gay,” he admitted. “I realized this when I was a junior high-school student, although I never told anybody, somehow my classmates guessed that I was. They rejected me and treated me like I was not a human being,” he added. He also described how one of his female classmates said to him, “I can’t believe someone like you exists.”
The video is starting to get a lot of attention, as well as the transcript for his speech. The fact that the student’s identity remains anonymous is evidence of the societal pressure in Japan where a lot of gay Japanese men end up marrying straight women, keeping their sexual preferences a secret because of the discrimination that they will be sure to experience if they come out.
You can watch the video of the student’s speech below:
Source: japandailypress.com; advocate.com