Opinion Survey Asks Japanese Netizens What They Think of LGBT

withnews 2018/3/29

What do you think when you hear the word LGBT? Everyone’s heard of Shinjuku 2-Chome and onee, but what other images does it conjure up?

In recent years, the term LGBT has become commonly heard in the news. It is often used interchangeably with the term sexual minority.

We wanted to know what kind of image comes to mind when people think of LGBTso withnews conducted an opinion survey online.

There are two things to take note of when reading the results. First, LGBT refers to only four types of sexual minorities, but in actuality, there are many. And second, This survey was conducted via social media and does not represent the opinion of all Japanese people.

Of the 800 responses collected, approximately 400 respondents identified as LGBT or another sexual minority, 320 identified as non-LGBT or sexual minority, and 80 answered “don’t know”.

The responses revealed several common themes as listed below.

1. The term is spreading, but…

“It feels like the conversation surrounding LGBT is experiencing a period of popularity, but at the end of the day, many people still believe it to be like another world, and I think that the level of awareness is still low.” (20’s, Tokyo)

“These days, LGBT individuals such as myself have access to many resources, and the current boom in popularity has felt like a big change. However, I sometimes wonder if society’s image of LGBT has changed as much as mine.” (30’s, Tokyo)

“Recognition of LGBT has increased slightly, but simply knowing the term changes nothing if society doesn’t come to accept them. It feels like the older generation doesn’t accept it. While LGBT people aren’t doing any harm, they are treated as if they are. (40’s, Northern Kanto)

There were many opinions expressing that while the term LGBT has spread, understanding and acceptance has not. One respondent in their 20’s from Southern Kanto stated self-deprecatingly, “I don’t know of any others. We’re like an urban legend.”

Another factor contributing to the mainstream image of LGBT individuals is the effect of television and variety programs.

“Visibility is increasing, but the type of sexual minorities that people are familiar with are characters on variety programs or comedy skits, not people they meet in their daily lives.” (20’s, Northern Kanto)

“The kinds of LGBT people who appear on TV mostly the over the top ones that make for good television, which I think causes people to believe that LGBT equals loud, gaudy and onee.” (20’s, Kyushu)

“If LGBT people are teased on TV, people will believe that it’s okay to tease them in real life.” (teens, Tokyo)

A twenty-year-old man living in Iwate Prefecture said, “Right now, there’s not really a disadvantage to not knowing about sexual minorities. Unless you have met some in person or are interested and read up on them on your own, I think that the only image you’ll have is the comedic one perpetuated by television programs.”

“Non-LGBT people have almost no real image off of which to base their opinion of LGBT people.” (20’s Tokyo)

2. They’re bothersome

There seems to be a prevailing opinion that those who assert their rights and advocate for understanding are bothersome or annoying.

“I’m not sure, but I feel people who speak out are generally thought to be annoying.” (20’s, Northern Kanto)

“The image that LGBT people should be treated as special is polarizing. It makes you feel like it’s a bother to try and deal with them.” (50’s, Tokyo)

“Homosexuality (in Japan) is the perfect example of how the more recognition and favorable opinions something receives the more backlash it will also cause. First, people begin to learn about it, and soon after it becomes material for jokes, causing this knowledge to take on a different quality and making these people a target of bullying. I think we will see more of this backlash in the future.” (20’s, Tokyo)

3. They’re being used by corporations

Many respondents expressed caution regarding Japanese corporations purportedly riding the wave of LGBT popularity to boost public relations. It seems that while many corporations have begun to establish support measures for LGBT individuals, the measures don’t always necessarily align with their needs.

“Many companies seem to be making a huge fuss over LGBT.” (40’s Tokai Region)

“I don’t think it can be denied that corporations are using LGBT as a marketing tool to improve their image.” (30’s Tokyo)

“I feel like there are many corporations that have set out to establish so-called ‘diversity and inclusion’ policies but in actuality aren’t improving their understanding at all.” (20’s, Tokyo)

4. Portrayal in the Media

There were also many cases where respondents expressed dissatisfaction over how LGBT individuals are portrayed in the media, pointing out a tendency to focus on tragic stories.

“I feel that there’s a strong push to make ‘tragedy porn’ out of the topic. But it’s probably because as a society, we like to see those who are disadvantaged persevering against the odds. If the news is going to relay tragic stories, they should equally present success stories as well.” (40’s, Northern Kanto)

“Being a minority does not equal having a difficult life. While I’m not open myself, I have fallen in love and have enjoyed my life just like anyone else. I’m thankful to those around me. I understand that there are a lot of minorities who are struggling, but I think that it should also be known that there are those who aren’t. (40’s, Tokai)

“There have been instances where the media has reported on sexual minorities with a high standard of living, but this only represents a small fraction of such individuals. I want the reality of not only sexual minorities but minorities of all backgrounds properly represented in the media. (30’s, Southern Kanto)


Diversity makes the world beautiful

“In the end, image is just image. There are few people that actually match the stereotypes. The message that the media should be spreading is that there are various kinds of people and that is what makes the world interesting and beautiful.” (30’s, Tokyo)

“I think that the accumulation of experiences from the various types of sexual minorities will enrich our lives and values.” (20’s, Tokyo)

Source – LGBT=おネエ?めんどくさい?都市伝説? イメージを調べてみた

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