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17-Year-Old Japanese Student Comes Out In Inspiring 'I Have a Dream, Too' Speech: VIDEO

Japan

This past December, a seventeen-year-old Japanese student entered the Hokkaido Prefectural English Speech Contest, held in Sapporo, Japan and gave a rousing speech on LGBT rights. Little is known at this time about the young man who gave the oration which began with an examination of Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay laws and the controversy over the then-upcoming Sochi Olympics. The student asked, 

Why do gay people have to face discrimination? Is it because they are not heterosexual? Is it a sin to love somebody of the same gender? The law cannot control love or people's feelings.

However, what began as a more academic examination of persecutions LGBT people face quickly became personal:

I have faced discrimination too. I am gay. I realized this when I was a junior high-school student, although I never told anybody somehow my classmates guessed that I was. They rejected me and treated me like I was not a human being; one girl said to me "I can't believe someone like you exists". It made me feel like I was completely alone. In high school I decided to keep my secret safe and never tell anyone about who I really am on the inside. But this year I wanted to stop hiding that part of myself.

The student went on point out the differences between attitudes towards LGBT person in the United States and Europe and the rest of the world, particularly Japan:

In Japan, we are afraid of being different, but we don't show our hate so openly. It is silent discrimination. If nobody talks about the problem then it doesn't exist. Many gay people in Japan hide who they really are because they are afraid of being rejected, not with angry words or threats of violence, but with isolation. Being gay in Japan is a very lonely existence.

Maybe it will be difficult for me to live my life just like other people. But this is my life. I'm going to live it no matter what people say. Martin Luther King once said "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." When I feel scared I often think of this quote. Making this speech was my first step, I never thought that I could tell people that I am gay.

 I too have a dream. One day down in the meadows of Hokkaido, gay people and straight people are chatting together and eating BBQ in the sunshine. I have a dream of a world without any prejudice, hate or ignorance which causes blind discrimination against what we can't understand. I can see the road ahead will be difficult, but I must be brave. Not just for myself, but for other young people like me.

You can read the full transcript of the speech and watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP…

TRANSCRIPT:

This summer, shocking news ran through the world. The Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a law to restrict the rights of gay people. Many western countries are quite offended by this idea and some people believe that we should boycott the Olympics which will be held in Sochi next winter. The Charter of the Olympics declares that the spirit of Olympics is to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic movement. According to this policy, we have to say this law is totally against the spirit of the Olympics.

Why do gay people have to face discrimination? Is it because they are not heterosexual? Is it a sin to love somebody of the same gender? The law cannot control love or people's feelings.

Discrimination is the practice of treating one person or group differently from another in an unfair way. In a sense, human history has been repeating itself, one kind of discrimination after another. Racial, sexual, religious discrimination and so on.
This year the United States celebrated the 50th anniversary of the "I have a dream" speech made by Martin Luther King. In his speech he was dreaming of the world without any discrimination where his children are living happily with different races. His speech has encouraged African Americans, Native Americans as well as minorities all over the world to move forward for civil rights.

I have faced discrimination too. I am gay. I realized this when I was a junior high-school student, although I never told anybody somehow my classmates guessed that I was. They rejected me and treated me like I was not a human being; one girl said to me "I can't believe someone like you exists". It made me feel like I was completely alone. In high school I decided to keep my secret safe and never tell anyone about who I really am on the inside. But this year I wanted to stop hiding that part of myself.

In western countries such as the States and in Europe gay people are seen as a normal part of society just as the difference of white and black, man and woman, Christian and Muslim. Although there are problems, the gay community is visible and is trying to make changes.

In Japan, we are afraid of being different, but we don't show our hate so openly. It is silent discrimination. If nobody talks about the problem then it doesn't exist. Many gay people in Japan hide who they really are because they are afraid of being rejected, not with angry words or threats of violence, but with isolation. Being gay in Japan is a very lonely existence.

Maybe it will be difficult for me to live my life just like other people. But this is my life. I'm going to live it no matter what people say. Martin Luther King once said "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." When I feel scared I often think of this quote. Making this speech was my first step, I never thought that I could tell people that I am gay.

I too have a dream. One day down in the meadows of Hokkaido, gay people and straight people are chatting together and eating BBQ in the sunshine. I have a dream of a world without any prejudice, hate or ignorance which causes blind discrimination against what we can't understand. I can see the road ahead will be difficult, but I must be brave. Not just for myself, but for other young people like me.

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Comments

  1. Brave, brave, brave young Gay folks all over the world. And when I say, "Gay", I mean LGBT.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 17, 2014 2:22:05 PM


  2. Thanks for the transcript, the sound was so bad it was really helpful.

    What a brave young man and what an inspiring speech! I am married to a Japanese man, and everything this young man says is right on the money about Japanese society. I hope that he finds the freedom in Japan to live an open and honest life there. It may not come in his lifetime, but it has to begin somewhere, and this speech and this young man are a great start.

    Posted by: Howard B | Mar 17, 2014 2:30:44 PM


  3. The movement for gay rights isn't uniquely American as many of our opposition here in the states would like us to believe. It is a worldwide phenomenon.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Mar 17, 2014 2:43:02 PM


  4. I like that the dreams of young Japanese people involve BBQ.

    Posted by: Patrick | Mar 17, 2014 3:11:09 PM


  5. *applauds*

    He's only seventeen? Brave dude! :)

    Posted by: Skip | Mar 17, 2014 3:43:49 PM


  6. Thanks for posting.

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Mar 17, 2014 3:48:12 PM


  7. Wow. That was very touching.

    Posted by: Merv | Mar 17, 2014 4:55:05 PM


  8. What is "English Forensics"?

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 17, 2014 6:24:08 PM


  9. There are no words that can be added by me or anyone here that make a better statement than this courageous young man. Bravo!

    Posted by: I wont grow up | Mar 17, 2014 7:12:13 PM


  10. I spent a year in Japan as an exchange student, and it's hard to explain to people who've never been there the overwhelming societal pressure to fit in, not make waves, etc.--if you do, you get the silent but deadly "freeze out" from relatives, friends, etc. This kid has serious guts to shout at the universe like this.

    Posted by: Dback | Mar 17, 2014 7:27:15 PM


  11. Sad & moving

    Posted by: John | Mar 17, 2014 9:27:05 PM


  12. What is it with gay people and emotional intelligence? This kid really gets it and will stand out, for the better, in Japanese culture. The founder of Sony never really fit in, either.

    Posted by: Rob | Mar 18, 2014 4:38:20 AM


  13. @Randy - In this usage, forensics is debate, or more generally, public speaking.

    Posted by: Aunt Sharon | Mar 18, 2014 9:47:45 AM


  14. I found out this brave young man and talked with him on the phone about his coming-out. He is a nice and sincere high school student and will go to a collage in April.

    I will report about him on my radio talk show in Tokyo and a local newspaper will interview him and write a story soon too. This is big to Japanese people.

    Thank you Towleroad, everything has started from this site.

    Posted by: quitamarco | Mar 20, 2014 10:22:40 AM


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