Kyushu Rainbow Pride 2015 was held on Sunday, November 22, and my friend and I went to check it out!
“Kyushu Rainbow Pride” is the second LGBT pride event to be held in Fukuoka City, following last year’s “Fukuoka Rainbow Parade”, which was held at the same time and place as this year’s event. The event was renamed as a way to create solidarity and draw people from all over Kyushu, and I personally welcomed the inclusion of the word “pride” in the title. One of my gripes with the event last year (as well as with a few other events across Japan), is the lack of the word “pride”. Not being clear about the purpose of the event feels like a lukewarm approach, like they are afraid of getting attention, so they’re just using “rainbow” like a secret codeword to indicate to LGBT people that it’s a pride event. But it shouldn’t be that way. The point of the event is to get exposure right? Pride is the difference between LGBT people being open about themselves and creating broader understanding versus a bunch of gays just having a picnic in the park.
This year, the LGBT community in Japan has had a lot to celebrate. Shibuya’s Partnership Certificates. Declarations of support by cities and municipalities for sexual minorities. Companies undergoing sensitivity training for LGBT customers and employees, and extending benefits to employees in same-sex relationships. I think that the feeling that change is possible might have lead many people to come and attend the event. So many, in fact, that the organizers report that over 5000 people attended this year as opposed to last year’s 1000!
My friend and I arrived around 1:30pm, and spent some time pursuing the different stalls, talking to companies and NPO organizations about the work that they were doing, and participating in activities, such as writing messages of support for sexual minorities and so on.
I was really excited to have a chance to talk with the director of the NPO group “Rainbow Soup“, which has been giving LGBT sensitivity training for businesses and working to build an understanding of sexual minorities here in Fukuoka. I expressed my appreciation and asked about volunteer opportunities, so maybe that’s something I can take part in if I have time in the future.
I didn’t take part in the parade, so I spent the afternoon drinking mulled wine, talking to the supporting groups, and watching the performances, such as dancing, taiko drumming, and an impassioned set by the pop artist KI-Yo, who also happens to be gay. Maybe it was the music, or maybe it was the wine, but the event felt positive, inclusive, and even festive. Everyone appeared to be in really high spirits. It was a fantastic afternoon!