Japanese Sexual Minorities Express Distaste for LGBT Activism – Opinion Survey

There are many dissenting voices from within the sexual minority community calling for the media to change its tendency to cover only the views of activists, and some have even come to express a distaste for activists. Why have some sexual minorities come to dislike the very people that appear to be creating support for them?

“LGBT doesn’t apply to me.”

“There’s a big gap between the image of LGBT that activists are propagating versus the image that LGBT people have of themselves.”

This is one of the responses withnews received when it conducted its “LGBT Image Survey.” This particular response was from a Gay Tokyoite in his 30’s.

Of the 800 responses, approximately 400 were from respondents identifying as LGBT or another sexual minority. Among the responses were instances where respondents expressed displeasure towards the individuals carrying out LGBT awareness and support initiatives.

For example,

“I’m a sexual minority, but I feel uncomfortable calling myself LGBT. I can’t help feeling like it’s just a trendy label.” (20’s Tokyo, Lesbian)

“LGBT doesn’t apply to me. It’s just a general term used in business and politics to sell the idea of sexual identity and orientation.” (30’s, Tokyo, Gay)

The term “activist” is often used as an insult online, and even among sexual minorities, many believe that adopting the monicker of LGBT for oneself is analogous to being an activist.

Our survey revealed three main reasons why some sexual minorities hold this view.

1. Activists Appear to be Speaking for Everyone

Some respondents spoke out against the opinions of activists being propagated as the opinion of all sexual minorities.

One 40-year-old gay Tokyoite said,

“When an activist speaks, even though they can only speak to their own experiences and opinions, the impression is given that they are speaking for all sexual minorities, which really bothers me.”

Other sexual minorities opposed the tendency for all sexual minorities to be lumped together.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are by no means the same, and they all face different problems. I think that many sexual minorities dislike putting all of these groups together under the banner of LGBT.” (50’s Tokyo, Gay)

It seems that some people believe that because each group has their own unique problems, lumping them all together as “LGBT issues” is a mistake.

However, there are also those who agree with the use of the term LGBT as one representing solidarity for all sexual minorities to work together and persevere.

From the results of our survey, there appeared to be a tendency for sexual minorities from older generations to express opposition to the combining of these different groups.

2. Activists Only Speak for Those Who Have “Come Out”

Some respondents held the stance that activists only represent those who have the privilege of coming out and living openly.

“People who use LGBT to describe themselves are a community of people who can live openly. The ones who can live openly are the ones who are creating the image of the community, but these people are only one part of all sexual minorities.” (30’s, Tokyo, Transgender)

There still aren’t many sexual minorities that can live openly. The type of sexual minorities represented in the media are the ones who have come out, but the challenges faced by people who have come out and those who have not yet come out are different.

For example, one challenge since the 2015 introduction of “Same-Sex Partnership Certification” in Shibuya is that closeted sexual minorities are worried about being exposed should they use the system.

It appears that due to local governments working primarily with those who are living openly, LGBT support policies that fail to meet the needs of closeted individuals are being implemented, creating a backlash.

3. Activists Appear to be Intolerant

Some responses suggested that LGBT activists assert their opinions too aggressively and fail to listen to opposing viewpoints.

“LGBT activists discriminate.” (40’s, Kinki Region, Gay)

“I think that LGBT people who loudly call out those who don’t accept LGBT are reverse discriminating.” (30’s, Southern Kanto, Bisexual)

A 22-year-old gay man attending the University of Tsukuba said,

“Activists believe in their cause, and I feel that there are some who don’t like to listen to opinions that differ from their own fixed ideas. I think that the opinions of Japanese activists and LGBT organizations are more one-sided compared to those overseas. They only think about LGBT issues. There are other groups that are similarly being discriminated against. If they truly want to realize diversity, they should include the opinions of other marginalized groups, such as disabled people.”

Some respondents expressed concern over the backlash against LGBT activists.

One respondent in her 20’s who lives with her partner in Northern Kanto said,

“It’s dangerous that the idea that LGBT activists are annoying or uncool is spreading among sexual minorities. I don’t think that these people who dislike LGBT activists have ever thought about the economic disadvantages that same-sex couples face. It’s difficult for two women to live together.”

She went on,

“If these individuals were to consult an accountant and learn about the economic advantages of same-sex marriage or if there were a site where they could calculate their annual income for themselves, I think that they would change their minds.”

While there is no one correct opinion, one thing that is for certain is that there are various sentiments as to how sexual minorities should move forward in addressing prejudice, and it’s not for any one part of the group to decide how to do so.

Source – LGBTが嫌いなセクマイ 「勝手に代表しないで」活動家嫌いの本音

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