Who will you come to like?

Today’s featured image (spotted by ROYGBIV) shows a poster explaining difference sexual preferences to students. The title is translated as ‘who will you come to like?’. I’ve not witnessed any discrimination of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered people so far in Japan. Actually I’ve not seen much evidence of the above existing – or what that means exactly. Yesterday I went to a TEDx talk at the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. It featured videos of talks by inspirational people such as activist Malala’s Father, which was a real treat and gave food for thought. The main feature I was attracted to, however, was first by Patrick Lineman – US Consul General; and secondly George Takei – Star Trek actor, and activist. 20140605-153841-56321056.jpg TEDx Kyoto Patrick spoke about differences he’d felt since childhood due to his sexuality, even though as an identical twin one might feel…the same… . He noted a time when one might have been arrested just for being gay, and he applauded the number of States which gay couples now have equal rights as heterosexual couples. The right to be married and recognised as a couple, legally. He noted something which I’d noticed just this past week – that in Japanese, the word for different is the same as the word for wrong. ‘違う’, chigau but he also praised recent events such as the recent LGBT coming of age festival in Osaka. Clearly though Japan has had issues with its love of uniformity it strives to be accepting of individuality and change, at least on civilian level. George Takei spoke about his experiences as a child living in America during the Second World War. George was born in the USA to Japanese parents. Around his fifth birthday George and his family were taken by armed soldiers to an internment camp to be held, as he noted, like criminals. This amid fears of Japanese people after the infamous Pearl Harbour bombing. As he spoke about this time he reiterated time and again that every country is run by people and as such: mistakes are made. He also wanted to stress that although they had been discriminated against unfairly; thousands of Japanese civilians living in these camps volunteered to join the American forces. They still believed in the values of the USA. 20140605-155627-57387103.jpg TEDx kyoto on Facebook. There were some great points being made about the improvements in LGBT rights across the globe plus how we can still make a difference. For example – recognising that legally children are completely denied LGBT recognition. It’s a controversial point, can a 5 year old be gay? Clearly this was a difference Patrick Linehan had felt ever since he was self aware. Children are denied education about gay relationships because it’s still such a huge issue, some people still believe that to be gay is a choice. Perhaps it is because to be recognised as gay is to recognise that one has a sexuality. Is this why educating children about sex is apparently terrible enough to be banned by some parents? The talks finished with a Q&A session hosted by George, Patrick and both of their husbands. Questions were prepared by students of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. At one point George made the point that still now there are few laws protecting people from being imprisoned for no reason, a student had asked whether the internments of WWII could be repeated, but I wondered… Doesn’t Guantanamo bay count? Are people not being imprisoned without trial?!.. If the questions were opened up to the audience maybe I might have asked. Maybe. Have a watch of some TED talks on YouTube if you haven’t already, they’ll keep you chewing on thought food for hours. See you later, Love rach xoxox