The Buddhist monk and make-up artist seeking LGBT+ equality in Japan

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10/10/2020

During a sheltered upbringing in a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, gay Japanese monk Kodo Nishimura kept his sexuality a closely guarded secret, and also concealed his burgeoning love of make-up. Nowadays, Nishimura blends religious duties with work as a make-up artist, making him an unusual figure in socially conservative Japan, where same-sex marriage remains illegal and being openly gay is largely taboo. The 31-year-old said his eventual decision to come out had been the “best weapon” to challenge homophobia, and he now hopes his autobiography will inspire more LGBT+ people in his country to openly embrace their sexual identity. “If you’re ashamed to show your difference, you can become vulnerable, but if you switch your attitude, your difference is your best weapon,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview ahead of the National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. The annual awareness day started in the United States in 1988 but has since expanded to other parts of the world as a celebration of ‘coming out’, or when an LGBT+ person openly discloses their sexual orientation or gender identities.

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