Stonewall Japan, formerly Stonewall AJET, is a special interest group for JETs who identify as LGBTQ, as well as their allies. Stonewall AJET grew to be a support network and safe zone not only for JETs, but also for other foreigners living in Japan as well as Japanese LGBTQ, hence the change to Stonewall Japan.
Fukushima is a part of Block 1, the largest out of all the other blocks in Japan, which includes all the prefectures in Tohoku, as well as Hokkaido. Although talk about LGBTQs might seem hush-hush in Tohoku, there does exist queer-owned bars, although it does take some searching to and initiative to find them! Luckily, some of us are on it, and have added a few places to the Stonewall Wiki, for anyone interested. Also, every year, we try to hold an annual event to bring Block 1 members together. Last year, we had an enkai, and a ski and snowboard weekend in Bandai-machi, where we played games, watched movies, and slid the slopes!
Stonewall Japan likes to share positive LGBTQ stories, so I’d like to share a couple local stories from Aizu-Wakamatsu, a city known for its stubbornness and tradition, with you. Depending on what publication your junior high nurse’s office subscribes to, you might find a poster that explains to kids that having feelings for a person of the same gender, both, or neither at all, which is perfectly normal. I’ve been told this poster exists in some junior highs here. Also, at my high school, one student, who is biologically female, but identifies as male, is allowed to wear a boy’s uniform, as well as joining the boy’s soccer team. This student is going through his own individual counseling, but the space that the school allows him to express himself is truly impressive!
Of course, not all stories are positive, so if you are looking for help in ways to handle LGBTQ discriminating situations, or a safe zone to cope with something that’s been done or said, check out the website at http://stonewall.ajet.net/ for resources, or get yourself onto our mailing list! We also have a Facebook group specifically for Tohoku and Hokkaido members for more area-focused activities and support. It is a secret closed group to protect members’ privacy, so please email Cat, the Block 1 leader for Tohoku (firstname.lastname@example.org), with your email address to receive an invite!