Few things have stopped Tokyo’s LGBTQ+ community and allies from marching with their flags flying high for the annual pride event in previous years, but the uncontained nature of the coronavirus outbreak has forced organisers to cancel this year’s Tokyo Rainbow Pride. The weekend event, which was originally scheduled to be held from April 25 to April 26, is just one of many large-scale proceedings that have been cancelled or postponed across the city, including the Mr Gay Japan competition which was also set to be held on April 5 (a new date will be announced later).
Tokyo Rainbow Pride has a long history spanning over two decades, starting with the first pride march in 1994. While the event was initially called the ‘Gay and Lesbian Parade’, it was renamed ‘Tokyo Pride’ in 2005 to include other sexual minorities who do not identify as gay or lesbian.
The annual weekend celebration revolves around a 3km march through Harajuku and Shibuya and events span from performances by drag queens in Yoyogi Park to late-night after-parties held in the LGBTQ+ neighbourhood of Nichome. In 2019, event organisers reported a turnout of 200,000 participants, a record in Tokyo.
While the news of the cancellation might be disheartening to those who were looking forward to celebrating the city’s LGBTQ+ community in spring, rest assured that the event will return in 2021 – and most likely be the biggest pride event the city has ever seen to make up for this year’s loss.
While Tokyo Rainbow Pride has been cancelled, the Mr Gay Japan competition is still taking public votes to determine the Best Social Media Award winner. Keep up-to-date with the coronavirus situation here in Tokyo and learn how to protect yourself from the pandemic.