This week, I was finally able to share my research project through a poster presentation! Last Tuesday, all of us talked about our research to classmates, other Japanese students, and community members. It was really exciting to look at everyone else’s projects and ask questions, and there’s no better feeling that to have completed a major project that has been months in the making! Although I’ve enjoyed my time working on my project, I’m relieved for it to be over.
My project pertained to asking Japanese people their viewpoint on LGBTQ content in media, such as if they thought it was helpful or harmful to society, or if they even watched that sort of media at all. The reason why I chose this topic was that, while staying in Japan, I really wanted to find out what most Japanese really thought about LGBTQ people and the concept of LGBTQ itself. Before arriving, I’ve heard that Japan is still fairly conservative on that subject, and it’s a topic that isn’t really discussed about. I didn’t necessarily want to believe in that, but rather that was an opinion shared by a selected group of people and didn’t speak for the general population. Wanting to find out for myself, I went and interviewed 30 Japanese people to hear their thoughts.
I found that, when it comes to LGBTQ people and even just the subject itself, most Japanese people truly do not seem to talk about publicly. Of course, I would say this is the same for most Americans, too. Although the topic itself is becoming more popular, it isn’t like it’s a topic that’s easily brought up in conversation, unless I guess someone in the conversation is involved with the community. Like what I have heard from others, there are many Japanese who know little to no LGBTQ people. However, what I found surprising was the diversity in people who knew what the acronym meant. I had met elderly folks who had heard of the term and could tell me what it meant, while I also met people my age who couldn’t tell me at all what LGBTQ stood for.
Jumping to LGBTQ-themed media, a lot of the people I interviewed had seen it before, but had not watched it regularly. In addition, when I asked them their thoughts on the possible increase of this media, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the majority of them tell me that they believe it would be a good thing. Although they don’t understand it, they told me things such as it being important to understand and acknowledge the differences in people, and that if this sort of media were to increase, then LGBTQ people could be seen as normal.
Through these interviews, I found that many Japanese folk would prefer to see change in the perception in LGBTQ people rather than ignore their existence. One person in particular I remember speaking to had told me that she knows very little about the subject, but knows that LGBTQ people are existing, and especially in Japan, they are hiding their identities. Seeing this sort of media, for her, would give the opportunity to educate herself on the topic, and to try to understand LGBTQ people’s experiences. I found this to be very encouraging, and I’m overall happy with the responses I had received, as I believe I have gotten closer into Japan’s way of thinking on the topic.