The week-long Tokyo Rainbow Week is being held for the first time and coincides with Golden Week from April 27 to May 6. Activities include symposiums, seminars, film screenings, social and outdoor events.
Japan’s LGBT community is reportedly about 5 percent of the total population, and the country as a whole lacks many major resources that are commonly available in other first world nations. Japanese culture tends to lean towards a kind of conformity towards traditional family values, so many LGBT people in Japan still reside inside the closet. “¨”¨
“This is because sexuality is still ‘invisible.’ This is the reality, there are a lot of people that are LGBT but you wouldn’t know it,” said Hiroteru Inui, the head of the public relations team of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2013, in a statement. “Therefore, [homosexuality]is not well understood yet, unfortunately. It is not possible for many to be open about their original sexuality for fear of it. Fear in the family and in the classroom, in the workplace; there may be some people who are finding it difficult to come out.”
The suicide rates among LGBT people in Japan are six times higher than the general public; and 65 percent of LGBT people have thought of committing suicide at least once in their lifetime, according to Inui.
Although Japanese Pride has been held since 1994, this is the first year it is hosted by Tokyo Rainbow Group. The intent of this year’s pride is to network within the LGBT community and for events to cultivate a sense of awareness of the community in the broader Japanese culture.”¨”¨The parade last year attracted some 4,500 people. Organizers say they are expecting 10,000 participants this year.
Organizers have reported that this year’s event has garnered support by many Japanese political parties that lean more towards the liberal side of government. For the first time, organizers secured cash sponsorships from Alfa Romeo and Philips (Body Grooming) who will set up booths at the parade, while in-kind sponsorships are being provided by Moet Hennessy, Red Bull and Audi. No Japanese company has stepped forward to sponsor the event.