There's a disparity between manga culture and Japanese society when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation.
9 May 2018 - 2:23 PM  UPDATED 9 May 2018 - 2:23 PM

In the latest Anime Show podcast, Joey and Aki discuss the LGBTQ+ community in Japan in light of Tokyo's recent Rainbow Pride parade.

Despite the prevalence of yaoi and yuri manga in Japanese culture, there's a lack of openly proud LGBTQ+ representation among Japanese people. Tokyo Rainbow Pride saw shows, events and parades take place in the city from late April to early May, and was a rare occasion for the Japanese LGBTQ+ community to take the spotlight.

According to recent statistics, only 7% of Japanese people identify as LGBTQ+ and their visibility seems cornered to districts that cater specifically to the community, like Shinjuku where most of the gay bars are situated.

The Anime Show hosts talk about the disparity between the lived LGBTQ+ experience and the way famous LGBTQ+ people are treated. There are some LGBTQ+ identifying celebrities on television in Japan who are very much embraced by the public, like columnist-turned-TV personality Matsuko Deluxe and activist, actress and writer Koyuki Higashi. 

Their experience is vastly different to that of most LGBTQ+ people living in Japan. Couples can still face difficulties when it comes to buying and renting homes, as well as visiting loved ones in hospital.

This all comes back to yaoi and yuri, the manga genres that focus on same sex relationships between characters. Despite the presence of these manga and anime, there's a lack of LGBTQ+ expression in other parts of Japanese media and culture.

As The Anime Show's Joey puts it: "Yaoi is gay hentai that is aimed towards women whereas bara is yaoi aimed towards men. And the amount of bara compared to the amount of yaoi is miniscule, so obviously the artists understand that gay hentai aimed towards men has so much more of a smaller market because of the whole stigma where Japanese gay men don't go out and buy bara. It's the same thing with yuri, you don't have to be a lesbian to enjoy yuri manga."

Listen to The Anime Show below to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community in Japan.


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