Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 & the definition of Pride

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Gay pride parades in Tokyo are not a regular annual event - surprising, perhaps, for a city the size of Tokyo - but happily this year there is a big gay, lesbian, transgender parade in Tokyo happening on Sunday 29th April.  

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 is the first of its kind, being held by a newly formed organization, Tokyo Rainbow Pride, established in 2011 to raise awareness of LGBT issues in Japan through an annual Pride parade. Tokyo Rainbow Pride is committed to achieving an annual gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parade for Japan's capital city every year from hereon in, something which has yet to happen since the first such parade in 1994.

 Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 will be happening this coming Sunday, 29 April 2012, at Yoyogi Park. The event will get underway at 11am, and the parade itself will set out at 1:15pm

Read more about the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2012 at the Tokyo Rainbow Pride website.

See you there!

UPDATE!-Report from the day of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012: 
Was it all 100% GAY PRIDE? The story of a (briefly) controversial YouTube video.

David Stormer of JapanVisitor went to Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 and reports the following:

"I was excited about a new gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender public event in Tokyo. Tokyo has a patchy history when it comes to GLBT events, and new initiatives of this type are welcome because they represent vitality in the Tokyo gay community, a resolve to share that vitality with the wider Tokyo community, and a spirit of cooperation fueled by that resolve: a spirit stronger than the tendency to divisiveness, which has been the downfall of previous, other initiatives.

However, first and foremost, the happiest thing about Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 is, as with any similar GLTB event, quite simply the expression of gay pride, lesbian pride, bisexual pride, transgender pride that the event represents. Pride is what fueled the Stonewall resistance: mere "queers," armed with nothing but their pride, battling the uniformed, armed police, who represented institutionalized prejudice and oppression. Pride is what launched the GLTB community as a community with power. This pride led not only to the decriminalization of homosexuality in Western countries, but, in its latest expression of power, the legalization of gay marriage. Only pride can keep that wave of liberation going.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 did what it claimed to do in getting thousands of GLBT people, both Japanese and non-Japanese, out onto the streets of Tokyo as the video I made partly attests to. I say "partly" because as circumstances had it, I was unable to make it on time to the start of the march through the streets of Tokyo, so missed out on filming the floats. I also say "partly" because the section of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2012 that I did happen upon was a "no photographing/no videoing" section of the parade.

The fact that it was "no photo/no video" escaped me until I had already put the video up on YouTube. But the very day I put it up, JapanVisitor got an email marked "Urgent" from one of the organizers of Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 requesting that I delete the short section of the video (about 20 seconds or so) that featured the "no photo/no video" group in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2012.

I promptly complied by taking the YouTube clip down (in spite of it already having gotten several hundred hits) obscuring the faces of the thirty or so people who formed the "no photo/no video" group and putting it back up on YouTube.

I can imagine the reasons for wanting to obscure your face in a parade, but they are all precious and, to me, specious.

For example, "It's not that I'm ashamed of being gay (lesbian, transgender, bisexual), it's just that I don't want people who don't know me thinking that "gay" ("lesbian," "transgender," "bisexual") totally defines me." Or, "To be honest, I'm not out with everyone I know, especially the people at work; however while I'm comfortable with the risk of their seeing me in real life, I do not want my face spread all over the place as gay (lesbian, transgender, bisexual) in the mass media." Or, "But this is Japan, and cultural norms here are not what they are in the more exhibitionist West."

The bottom line is, a parade is a place to be seen, and three loud cheers for all those hundreds and thousands of people who paraded to be seen, to be visible, in such ebullient, creative, and memorable ways at the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012. By coming out onto the streets as part of a gay parade you publicly define yourself as gay. There is nothing culturally unique about not wanting to be seen, but there is something personally unique in wanting to be seen to affirm as positive the kinds of sexuality that have for so long been derided and condemned as negative. That unique something is pride. Anything other than pride has no place in an event with the word Pride in its name. Can't stand the heat of pride? Stay out of the kitchen.

Fortunately, as I said, the "semi-pride" (to be polite) element by no means completely defined Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012. Check out that above-mentioned creativity, ebullience, colorfulness and - above all - that pride - in (most!) of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 YouTube video.

And read about the 2009 Tokyo Gay Pride


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