Author: Kotona Motoyama

Research Article

Year: 2015, Volume 15 No 2
Pages: 75-92


Heteronormative society requires non-heterosexuals to come out in order to be recognized. Coming out is often the most challenging experience for non-heterosexuals and heteronormativity and homophobia are two powerful obstacles that they have to deal with. This paper considers how non-heterosexuals come out to themselves and to heterosexual others under the effect of Japanese cultural norms. Interviews with 24 non-heterosexuals and their experiences revealed that they have to deal with not only heteronormativity and homophobia like non-heterosexuals in the Western culture, but also “perceived homophobia,” which is created by the expectation of “respectable Japanese selves.” Thus, coming out in Japan requires a continuous process of negotiation with cultural norms embedded in a society. The paper raises questions about the necessity of considering cultural differences in coming out and explains how non-heterosexuals negotiate with themselves and others in order to live “happily” in Japan’s strongly conformist culture. This paper provides a better understanding of sexual minority issues in the Japanese context.

Keywords: Non-heterosexuals, coming out, Japanese cultural norms, heteronormativity, homophobia,
perceived homophobia