Ikuo Sato stood in front of a Tokyo court in April and told the world he was gay. To a packed room, he described the anxiety he had felt as a young man, struggling to express his sexuality in Japan’s restrictive society. If the law is changed to allow same-sex marriage, he said, perhaps “we’ll make a society where the next generation doesn’t have to feel that way.” Somewhere in the courtroom, his partner sat silently watching, hoping to go unnoticed. His family and co-workers do not know he is gay, and he hopes — at least for now — to keep it that way, fearing discrimination in his workplace. The couple’s story epitomizes the contradictions that shape the lives of gay people across Japan.