Takashi Homma Photographs Tokyo’s Young, Resilient Queer Community

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This story originally appeared on iD Japan.

Takashi Homma has been photographing for iD since the 90s, when he moved to London to pursue his career in fashion photography. Capturing everyone from street style unknown kids to Japanese popstars, for decades his work has appeared on our covers and throughout our pages. Eager to collaborate again, we asked the legendary photographer to take to the streets of Tokyo to shoot portraits of the city’s young queer community.

In doing so, we asked the subjects about their lives and the positive changes they hope their largely heteronormative society can continue to bring. The result? An honest look at what it’s like to be LGBTQ+ in Japan today, told through a series of personal stories.

Marissa, 24, student

What are you doing?
I am an international student from China. I am currently in my second year of a master’s degree in humanities and social sciences at the University of Tsukuba, studying gender and cinema with a focus on the body. Outside of school, I organize various events with my friends on social issues.

What does homosexuality mean to you?
I think queer is a word with three meanings: bravery, power and a spirit that constantly breaks through frames and does not submit to the boundaries set by society.

What’s the best thing about being queer?
To have a new perspective on the world, to love and support my friends.

What does freedom mean to you?
I think it’s something that can’t be achieved, something that doesn’t exist, but that we have to fight for.

@marissa.campt

a person wearing jeans and a rusty green top (with bleached streaks in their hair) sits casually on a bench in tokyo

Momo Adachi, 25, office worker

How do you identify yourself?
Intersex and queer.

What does homosexuality mean to you?
Liberation from heteronormativity and the gender binary.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
I don’t think there is a lot of “scene”. On the contrary, I often have the impression that in Japan, it is considered a trend or a style. I like house and techno, so I would like to see a scene that combines queer community and club music, like in Europe.

@thegreygentlemen

a person in shiny parachute pants sticks their pierced tongue towards the camera with their head in their hands

Kenvose, 21, dancer

How do you identify yourself?
I think putting myself in such a box would lead to cramped thinking and living. I am me and you are you. There is nothing special about it.

Who are the people who have influenced you? How?
When I dance, it’s Hirohiko Araki, the author of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Over time, Araki-sensei changed his drawing style as he became more aesthetically confident. In terms of wider influences, I’m more influenced by the characters of JojoSakuragi-kun’s slam dunk and Morha. But also the groups Elephant Kashimashi and Sambo Master.

What could society as a whole learn from the queer community?
I think that instead of forcing people to understand us, we need people around us to want to to try to understand ourselves. I think it can be difficult, but not as difficult as having to erase yourself.

@ken.vose

a woman with long straight hair wears a long brown skirt and a beige knit shirt with two gold chains.  she stands in a side street

Honoka Yamasaki, 24, dancer and writer

What are you doing?
During the day I work as a writer on the subject of sex in relation to homosexuality, fetishism, porn and love. At night I dance with the drag queen Vera Strondh at a gay bar in Shinjuku Ni-Chome.

How do you identify yourself?
Lesbian.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
I feel like it’s slowly spreading. Queer events have spread from Shinjuku Ni-Chome to Shibuya and Harajuku; and opportunities to meet people have expanded from closed forums to dating apps and IRL sites.

What could society as a whole learn from the queer community?
Imagination. If you ask a straight person, “Why do you like the opposite sex?” I think a lot of people would think that’s a weird question. But just as it is natural for a heterosexual person to be in love with the opposite sex, it is natural for a person to be in love with the same sex, not to have romantic feelings in the first place, or not to fit into a box. traditional when it comes to sex. You always have to question the assumptions you have, and when you discover something you don’t know, it’s important to use your imagination and keep learning.

What queer movies/dramas do you recommend?
Park Chan-wook The servant. It depicts love between women, but it’s a less obvious depiction – so much so that I don’t know if it can even be called a queer film. It also describes various deviations from gender roles, gender norms and class.

Are there any queer stereotypes you want to break?
When some people hear the word queer, they may think of gender neutrality or a lack of binary perspectives, but some queer people value femininity and masculinity. Similarly, people who identify as men can wear skirts, people who are neither male nor female can wear makeup, and gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and registered sex are all various factors that are not necessarily expressed in one. genre. I think it’s so important to see people as individuals.

@honoka_yamasaki

a person with blue streaks in their hair and bold eye makeup poses and looks at the camera

Saki Kamiya, artist and choreographer

How do you identify yourself?
Pansexual and non-binary or genderqueer.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
I think people think too much about the need to diversify. The creation of different words and increased categorization makes me wonder why we have to name everything. Then I realized that these terms were not addressed to others but to ourselves. I used to feel awkward and felt like it was hard to live with, wondering why I was so shy in my gender identity. I thought I was only halfway there, but now I have a name for myself and I know my sense of me isn’t crazy. It was a reassuring feeling.

@sakisaki_dayo

a person in a miu miu mini skirt and snakeskin print shirt poses on a tiled staircase

Minor, 24 years old, artist

How do you identify?
Non-binary.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
There are still people who think that if men wear skirts, heels and nail polish, they are gay.

Are there any stereotypes about queer people that you want to break?
That if you wear feminine clothes or are a bit sloppy, people think you’re queer.

What is your purpose in life?
To be a global gay icon.

@minor_offi

a person in a colorful printed t-shirt, combat pants and big fluffy purple shoes stands near a vending machine

Rou, 26, RCv store manager and kickboxer

What are you doing?
I run a shop called RCv and am an amateur kickboxer.

How do you identify yourself?
Ominsexual.

And what does queer mean to you?
For me, homosexuality is a broad self-perception. In fact, I think everyone can have aspects of themselves that they are unaware of.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
I feel like there is a general lack of understanding of LGBTQ+ people. Homosexual relationships are recognized, but it’s still not legal enough. I think there is still a long period of fighting ahead of us. There should be classes in schools where sexual diversity is taught, in order to build a society where it is recognized.

@rWhere

a person wearing denim shorts and a bodice style shirt stands leaning against the side of a wood paneled building

Yuma Kardasian, 26, youtuber

How do you identify yourself?
Cheerful.

Where are your secure spaces?
A place where I can be with my chosen family, where I feel at home.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
Before I came back from Australia, I thought Japan had nothing to offer, especially Tokyo, but I was surprised! The LBGTQ scene is bigger than I thought, and I thought it was very promising.

Who in your life has had the biggest influence on you?
My mother. Seeing my mother living freely made me want to live freely too.

How do you think attitudes towards the queer community can be improved in Japanese society?
Surely through education? I think over time, people who receive this education will become parents, so naturally the overall understanding will improve.

How do you think queer people are portrayed in television and film?
I think it’s great that they’ve been portrayed in such a positive way recently and you can see the joy of being queer. At the same time, I think it’s good that people can see painful experiences and examples of the harm they can cause.

@yumakardasian

a person wearing a motocross shirt and denim shorts leans interestingly with their arms above their heads in the middle of a residential street in tokyo

Hibari, 26, model

How do you identify yourself?
Lesbian or bisexual.

What does homosexuality mean to you?

I’ve thought a lot about homosexuality, and I still find it difficult to put it into words in a concise way, but for now, it means I have a wide range of options for loving people and I don’t feel the need to categorize myself as LGBTQ+ or straight or any of those words.

What do you think of the LGBTQ+ scene in Japan?
Through various social networking sites and media, I feel like more and more people are trying to figure out the community. I hope that LGBTQ+ people and people who have not been exposed to various sexualities can increase their understanding in a happy and painless way.

Did you have any kind of role model or artist that influenced you?
Miliyah Kato. When I was in elementary school, I had doubts about life, school rules and many other things, but when I heard Miliyah Kato’s music, it dragged me and trusted me in my own heart.

What would you like to say to your 16 year old self?
There are many forms of love, so don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with loving a girl!

@hiparis_oira


Credits


All photographs Takashi Homma
Creative direction Kazumi Asamura Hayashi
Foundry Taka Arakawa
Styling Youri Nosho
Photo assistant Yumi Inoue

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