Being LGBTQ in Japan: An Interview with Stan Fukase (worldofxtra)

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Stan Fukase wearing a grey shirt.

Being LGBTQ in Japan comes with unique challenges and experiences. Stan Fukase, a prominent figure in the queer community, shares his personal journey and insights about navigating life in Japan as a gay person. This article explores various topics on what it’s like being LGBTQ in Japan, Stan’s personal experiences, societal attitudes, and support networks.

Introduction to Stan 

Stan Fukase known as worldofxtra on TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, and other social platforms has gathered a huge following in the millions by sharing his unfiltered daily life in Japan.

Stan, who identifies as gay, was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Filipino father. He moved to the Philippines at a young age and returned to Japan at the age of 19 to attend university. His experiences give him insight into two cultures, providing him with a unique view of what it’s like being LGBTQ in Japan from both a foreign and Japanese perspective.

Being Gay and Moving to Japan

Stan highlights that the idea of moving to Japan as a gay person was initially daunting due to the country’s conservative reputation. However, extensive research revealed that Tokyo hosts one of Asia’s largest gay districts, Nichome, which provided him with a sense of security and community. Stan mentions that, unlike many places, Japan’s low violent crime rate also reassured him about his physical safety.

Personal Adjustments

Upon his return to Japan, Stan embraced the opportunity to reinvent himself. In Japan, he found the freedom to express himself through fashion and makeup, which was a lot different from his experience in the Philippines. Nichome played a large role in his self-acceptance, as it was the first time he encountered a concentrated queer community.

Two miniature pride flags being held at a pride event in Tokyo, in support for being LGBTQ in Japan.

Positive Surprises About LGBTQ Life in Tokyo

Stan was pleasantly surprised by the level of comfort many gay people exhibit while living in the country’s capital city, Tokyo. Despite Japan’s conservative backdrop, he found that queer individuals in Tokyo often accept and express themselves more openly compared to other places he had lived.

Support Networks and Social Events

Tokyo boasts numerous queer events, such as the Opulence drag show and Kiki Lounge, which facilitate socialization and community building. Although Stan hasn’t personally joined formal support groups, he notes the positive effect of these events in creating connections and friendships.

Nichome: The Heart of LGBTQ+ Tokyo

Nichome is the largest LGBTQ+ district in Asia, featuring a wide range of establishments catering to different segments of the community. It is not just a gay district but a vibrant melting pot with gay bars, trans bars, lesbian bars, and more, and is recommended for those over the age of 20, which is the legal age of being an adult in Japan.

While Nichome is a hub for LGBTQ+ individuals, Stan observes some level of segregation within the community but notes that even that has been changing recently. He hopes that inclusivity will continue to grow in the future, where all queer people can come together regardless of their specific identity.

The Challenges of Being LGBTQ in Japan

Subtle Discrimination

Stan’s experiences with discrimination in Japan are generally subtle and stem from ignorance rather than malice. Misconceptions about gay people are common, but he hasn’t faced severe discrimination or violence.

Legal and Social Hurdles

One of the biggest challenges for LGBTQ+ individuals in Japan is the lack of legal recognition for same-sex marriages. This legal gap impacts future planning, especially for those who wish to build families with their significant other.

However, as of 2024, 26 prefectures in Japan have started to issue same-sex partnership certificates which give some benefits for same-sex couples. The Marriage For All Japan organization hopes to keep spreading awareness and to grow the number of cities across Japan that issue the certificates.

View of people walking on a city side walk in Japan.

Changing Attitudes and Future Outlook

Stan has noticed a gradual shift in Japanese attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals since he moved here at 19. Increased visibility, particularly during events like Tokyo Pride, has fostered greater acceptance among the general population, including older generations.

He emphasizes that visibility and self-expression are crucial for the queer community in Japan. Being openly gay is seen as a form of protest in a conservative society, showcasing the ongoing fight for equality.

A Message to Prospective LGBTQ+ Residents

Despite its challenges, Japan has been a safe and welcoming place for Stan. He encourages LGBTQ+ individuals considering a move to Japan to embrace the opportunities it offers. The city’s vibrant queer community and relatively low crime rate make it a unique and supportive environment for people in the queer community.

Stan’s personal experiences reflect the complex yet hopeful landscape of being LGBTQ in Japan. To read more about what life is like for the LGBTQ+ community in general check out our article about LGBTQ+ life in Japan.

Live and Study in Japan with Go! Go! Nihon

If you’ve been following Stan’s journey about what life is like being LGBTQ in Japan, and are curious about other aspects follow our Go! Go! Nihon Blog.

Want to start your journey to living and studying in Japan by going to language school, vocational school or, even university in Japan? Get in contact with us today for free, and we’ll help you find the perfect fit.

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