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Meet the Mr Gay Japan 2020 finalists

Mr Gay Japan 2020
Photo: fb.com/mrgayjapan

Yes, there’s a swimsuit contest involved, but the Mr Gay World competition is not your average pageant. This remarkable competition, involving delegates from 24 countries around the world, is a platform for gay activists to empower sexual minorities and fight for equality within their communities. 

It’s only been three years since Japan first joined the competition which has been running for over a decade, but we still manage to secure a formidable group of contenders every year. Before the Mr Gay World Competition can take place, a Japanese winner must be selected from our local group of finalists. 

The Mr Gay Japan competition is set for Sunday April 5, where a panel of judges will award points to the contestants based on their personal statements and social responsibility campaigns. While you’ll have to wait for the competition to see which Japanese contestant is selected to represent the country at Mr Gay World in South Africa, you can, in the meantime, vote for your favourite contestant to win the Best Social Media Award by clicking ‘like’ on their instagram photo. 

Here are the finalists competing for Mr Gay Japan 2020.

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Mitsuru

Mitsuru has admitted that he still struggles with presenting himself as an openly gay man in Japan. He decided to join this competition as a way to confront the part of him that still believes being openly gay might disadvantage him in society while learning how to see it as something that makes him stronger instead. He also hopes to encourage other people to be proud of who they are and have the courage to speak up for themselves. On this journey, Mitsuru is determined to educate himself further on issues related to prejudice and discrimination, so he can help others break down the same misconceptions that held him back for so long. 

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Saramu

Saramu’s motivation lies in helping to build a society where everyone can live their lives happily. He recalls being at school and finding he couldn’t even tell his closest friends he was gay because he was worried of the prejudice he might face as a result. Now he has decided that although there are some people who might not be understanding of what it means to be LGBTQ+, it’s important to have these discussions with them regardless in order to create any chance of progress. Saramu lives as a minority in more than one aspect of his life as he is also a deaf person, but he remains undaunted, stating that he looks forward to teaching people sign language as well as learning foreign sign language on his journey. 

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Tatsuya

Tatsuya believes that one of our shortcomings as a society stems from the fact that we promote the idea that there are only two genders: male and female. For him, the rigid ideas of what it means to be masculine, ingrained in him as a child, became problematic when he hit puberty because he found he couldn’t fit into the traditional mould of a man. Things changed for the better when he started asking himself what he really wanted to do and how he wanted to live his life. He envisions a society where being LGBTQ+ becomes so common that people no longer feel like they are unusual or different because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

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Hiro

Hiro acknowledges that there are more LGBTQ+ figures on TV and media than ever, but he believes queer visibility in the media and how LGBTQ+ issues are addressed in society are two separate things. Just because a popular TV show happens to feature a few gay characters doesn’t guarantee the desired reaction from relatives, friends or colleagues if you come out to them. He doesn’t think anyone should feel obliged to come out to their peers if they’d rather protect certain aspects of their identity, but he hopes to empower the people who want to come out but still feel discouraged from doing so. 

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Hide 

Only a few people in Hide’s life have met his significant other as he still hasn’t come out to a number of people close to him, including family members. While Hide has chosen not to come out to some relatives and family members for the sake of not upsetting them, he acknowledges that there are many Japanese people who pretend to be heterosuxual even to themselves because they are afraid of being a minority. He can empathise with those who feel they can’t live life as their authentic selves and hopes to help change that. More critically, he is seeking to change legislation in Japan so that gay marriage becomes legalised.  

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Hajime 

As a social worker, Hajime is acutely aware of the number of cases of individuals being kicked out of their family homes for their sexual orientation. In his work, he wants to help rehabilitate people who have experienced such trauma and remove them from the streets so they can lead a normal and happy life. Hajime is optimistic about the future of equality in Japan. In his time living in the United States, he encountered many individuals who had become homeless because their families refused to accept them for who they are. Japan has recently established a number of safe shelters for LGBTQ+ individuals and he hopes to be a part of the movement that pushes the nation to become even more open and accepting.

Go show your support for these Mr Gay Japan finalists on April 5. The event is free, but a ¥500 donation at the entrance is appreciated– more details here.

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