withnews 4/30/2016

“Dear concept of LGBT,”

Talent Makimura Asako (28) contributed this letter which was published in Modern Philosophy (現代思想, from publisher Seidosha) in October 2015. LGBT is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. It holds almost the same meaning as the term sexual minority.

Since Makimura’s announcement of her marriage to a woman, she has come to write about her experiences as a lesbian. But in the letter, she already has declared that she will no longer refer to herself as an LGBT individual. We asked her what she meant. 

(Asahi Shinbun Tokyo Local News Reporter Harada Akemi)

“What of the people who can’t live here?”

“It’s because I don’t want to live as LGBT.”

Makimura appears to choose her words carefully.

She told me about “LGBT villages” she saw in the United States. These are towns where LGBT people gather and live. The people who live there are proud that the cities “set an example” of what is possible.

Even though they are LGBT, the are able to live in splendid homes and enjoy time with their friends. Such an example invites others to come and live the same kind of life. However, Makimura expressed her doubts, saying, “Why would you want to narrow down your options? Can’t you consider the LGBT people who can’t live there?”

The Separation Into “LGBT” and “Non-LGBT” 

The term LGBT was born in the 1990’s in America. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who were conducting activities separately joined together and created the name.

At the start of the letter, Makimura wrote “I would like to express from the bottom of my heart my happiness for your glorious success”. In the 20 year history of the term, it has gradually improved the circumstances for the people it represents.

Mostly in America and Europe, the countries where same-sex marriage is allowed have increased, and the UN also works to protect the human rights of LGBT individuals.

Even in Japan, the term LGBT has spread quickly over the years. Beginning with SNS services for LGBT people, wedding ceremonies and so on, there are now services being born that work to support those with a lower social standing.

While such solidarity is LGBT’s “glorious success”, on the other hand, Makimura feels that it is leading to a separation of individuals into ‘LGBT’ and ‘non-LGBT’.

“Difficulties surrounding sexuality, such as “manliness” and “femininity” fall outside of LGBT despite being similar. Everyone is concerned when it comes to the topic of sexuality.”

“Therefore, goodbye.”

“The idea that ‘there are only men and women in the world’ is a damaging dichotomy, and the ones who have been fighting to break down these barriers are LGBT individuals. However, it now seems that there is a new wall being formed, this time being ‘LGBT and non-LGBT’.”

Makimura wrote so in her letter.

“Don’t shut yourself away. …I don’t desire to be LGBT, and I don’t have an opinion ‘as an LGBT individual’. I am only myself.”

She brings the letter to a finish while once again addressing the concept of LGBT.

“I am your child. When I couldn’t become a ‘proper woman’ who could love men, and I tried my utmost to kill my thoughts towards women, you extended your hands to me, taught me how to live freely, and thanks to you, I am here. Therefore, goodbye.”

“LGBT Solidarity as a Waypoint”

Lastly, responses to the letter were written. While there were many responses echoing the idea that “Even though I’m gay, this gave me the courage to live outside of Ni-Chome (※Shinjuku Ni-Chome is the largest gay neighborhood in Japan)”, there were also those who objected to the content of the letter.

“Same-sex marriage is still not allowed in Japan, and there are individuals who are committing suicide due to the hardship (of being LGBT in Japanese society). Isn’t it too soon to be letting go of LGBT solidarity?”

Makimura stated,

“I think it’s good for those who want to label themselves LGBT to do so. But I also think it’s important for there to be people who believe in LGBT solidarity as a waypoint, rather than an end goal.”


Original Article – 「LGBTさん、さようなら」 同性婚の牧村朝子さんが宣言、その真意