Tokyo Pride Parade celebrated its 25th anniversary with its biggest parade to date last Sunday.
The parade was held on the first of a two-day LGBTQ+ pride festival held in Tokyo’s popular Yoyogi Park. The festival was filled with stage performances, food and corporate sponsor booths, and — of course — the biggest gay pride parade in Japan.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride (often abbreviated TRP) are the organizers of the pride festivities that are held annually during a string of national holidays in Japan called Golden Week. This year was the most successful pride parade yet with over 10,000 participants, according to TRP’s official Twitter account:
They wrote, “The pride parade has come to an end, but this year we had the most participants ever — over 10,915! Thanks to all those who marched, and Happy Pride! The festival will continue in Yoyogi Park tomorrow. We look forward to seeing you there.” Last year, around 7,000 people marched in the Tokyo Pride Parade.
The 2.5 kilometer-long parade was divided into groups based on political messages, genders and sexualities, and corporate affiliations. Participants included people of all orientations under the LGBTQ+ label, as well as allies.
This year’s Pride Week theme was “I have pride aru ga mama o hokoro” (roughly: “Be proud of who you are”). TRP further expanded on this motto by explaining that, “We are not strange. We are not sick. We are not shameful or disgusting. Our pride is something to be respected.” This message was echoed by signs many of the marchers held up in the parade, along with other signs aimed at raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, especially marriage equality since same-sex marriage is still not legally recognized in Japan.
Several attendees took to Twitter to share their thoughts, including bisexual photographer @porumi88 who posted pictures of different gay couples holding hands along with the following message:
1年に1度のお祭りやパレードだからじゃなくて、同性同士でも当たり前に手を繋いで街を歩ける世の中になりますように。いや、なるべき。#TRP2019 #東京レインボープライド pic.twitter.com/AfqfvYKKkf
— ぽるみ (@porumi88) April 28, 2019
They explained, “It’s not about the once-a-year festival or parade, it’s about the hope that one day, same-sex couples can walk around town holding hands and for it to be normal. As it should be.”
Another attendee was newbie to gay pride events @okusari_marie, who went to the festival with friends and marched in the parade.
She shared, “Today, I went to the Tokyo Rainbow Pride festival with my friends! We also marched in the parade. It was my first time going to a gay pride event. It was wonderful to see everyone so full of love and so free. We had a great time, the neighborhood was so pretty all decorated with rainbows, and the food was tasty too, haha. It made me so happy💓”
@19hz also posted their thoughts from the perspective of someone who had experience working in education:
パレードで可視化されていて、嬉しかった。#TRP2019 #TRP2019パレード #TRP #東京レインボープライド pic.twitter.com/XLwXjHrZfy
— 佐藤真紀(Satoh Maki)@Social worker (@19hz) April 28, 2019
They wrote, “When I worked at the Board of Education, I had a few cases of teachers coming to me asking for help. And it wasn’t just about their students — it was also about teachers themselves who were in the closet. It’s great to see the parade bringing more awareness to the LGBT community.”
While same-sex marriage is still not an option for gay couples in Japan, the increasing support and awareness of LGBT issues provided by events like Tokyo Rainbow Pride are a step closer towards the equality they deserve.
For more information about TRP and gay pride events that happened over Golden Week, check out their official website (Japanese).