Mitsuhiro, in his own words: “For a long time, being gay meant obstacles, fear, depression and hatred, and even now this is something I sometimes have to face. I also can say being gay means moments of joy, love, affection, excitement and peace, when I am with someone who I love, or I am surrounded with friends who accept me just as who I am.
Having said that, being gay is simply one element of me. I used to think being gay gave me an extra obstacle in my life, so I thought my life was more difficult than others’, but apparently not. Being gay doesn’t define me completely, it is only a part of me, but it is a part that completes me and gives me strength to live my life. All the negativity I heard and felt were obstacles once, but I always figured out how to deal with it. To help me do that, I was lucky enough to have people to help me.
In other words, being gay brought me understanding friends who have gone through similar experiences and accepted me just as a person. Sharing experiences and getting advice helped me to be the person who I wanted to be. All their support helped me lay my foundation, and I am still building myself.
Being gay gives me more freedom to explore the world and encounter people from all around. I have met people in difference circumstances and some people were very inspiring. I believe that there is no coincidence, that all encounters and incidents have meaning. This is probably the greatest upside of being gay.
Now there is so much happening all over the world: People are finally gaining equal rights in the US. “Marriage Equality” and “Equal Rights” are great terms and are the right way to think about these issues. I hope Pride Day one day becomes about celebrating all people just for who they are, where I can be proud of myself as being gay because I’m proud of myself as a human being. That is my goal.
My first relationship lasted about 6 years, including three years of long distance. We were young. One day everything was so delightful, but the next day everything became dramatic. Once he went abroad to work, three years of long distance changed everything. I don’t remember how I managed my emotions for three years, but sad to say I failed to maintain the relationship. I tried to reach out to him, but he didn’t respond, so I gave in. To be honest, I gave up on him.
After a while, I met someone and we were in a relationship for 2 years. That was my second and last relationship so far. I actually liked myself in this relationship because I learned and grew a lot. I was so dramatic, very emotional and more self-centred before, but I somehow figured out what should be like loving someone. I guess I learned how to put myself in someone else’s shoes. He moved away to pursue his career and he tried to keep a long distance relationship, which I never would have expected. I appreciated these efforts, but it didn’t last long and we ultimately broke up. I chose to never see him again, but he brought two very important people into my life, so now I am looking forward to seeing him again one day to say, “Thank you”.
I fell in love with someone after being single for many years. That was the first time I fell in love at first sight. I thought it was just a crush, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately it was only felt in one direction. I don’t want to disclose more details, but I wanted to mention him because he became important to me by helping me realize that I still have the power to love, and teaching me happiness can be found in any circumstances. (It’s actually tough to think that way sometimes, but I’m trying my best. Haha!)
I am still looking for my soulmate. Knock knock! Are you out there? lol
I don’t really know what the gay community is like (in Vancouver) now. The older I get, the less I go out. I gradually stopped being in the “scene” so much.
I bet it has been changed since I was in my 20’s. It is more diverse since the internet become more popular and social networking system revolutionized the gay community, including Vancouver. I can’t deny that it changes my social circle as well.
This isn’t really a comment on the gay community here, it’s more that I never really laid roots here. I’m still trying to figure out how to fit in, not just in the gay community, but in society in general. I realize not that fitting in is not about the place, but is about figuring out who you are and having confidence in yourself. With these things, you will be fine no matter where you are (although there are still places where it is not safe to be out).
(Coming out) This was the toughest thing in my life.
To come out to myself.
I knew I was different but I didn’t know I was gay. It was hidden in a dark room for a long time until I moved to Canada at the age of 25. I met a Canadian guy who wanted to learn Japanese and I wanted to learn English. We started as language exchange partners at the beginning and became friends.
One day I was invited over to his place and to watch some movies. In the middle of the movie, he kissed me and we ended up making out. I didn’t mind; it was rather nice indeed. And that was how I came out to myself. It did, however, take a long time to accept myself because society, my community, and my circle of friends didn’t allow me to do so. Most likely, I was scared of not knowing where coming out was going to lead. My idea of being gay was something unacceptable, discriminated and hated.
It took me a half a year to start going out to gay clubs and bars. I had no gay friends except the Canadian guy, so it was a big relief to meet other gay guys, especially Japanese gay guys. It made me feel better to know that I was not alone.
To come out to my best friends.
My best friend came from Japan to visit me in Vancouver in 1996. He actually came here to ask my opinion about his relationships with two girls (very bad lol). He was with one girl for a long time but it was a long-distance relationship, while he met another girl at his work and was considering marrying her. I kind of knew that he didn’t come here to ask my opinion, he basically needed me to affirm his decision.
The last day before he left for Japan, I felt I needed to tell him about myself. He came all the way here to share a big life decision. Yes, I need to tell him! Oh my god, words didn’t come out of my mouth for 5 to 6 hours and all I told him was unimportant bullshit. He must have been so suspicious. Finally I confessed to him, and there was a silence for a while, maybe only a few seconds, but it felt like forever. Then he broke the silence and said “It’s okay. You are the same person I’ve known for a long time and it won’t change a bit.” He also mentioned that things I said before make sense to him. What did I say? I didn’t remember at all.
I told him not tell anyone, but he couldn’t keep it in himself and told another friend of ours, and I was glad he did. Knowing the fact that they accepted me as a person, and nothing changed a bit, gave me so much relief. We are still best friends although we rarely see each other.
To come out to my family.
After while, I came out to my sister. She is only a year younger than I am, so we basically grew up just like twins. She wanted everything I had and wanted to play with me and my friends, but I hated it so much. So we fought a lot when we were kids. I think I was a very mean brother to her. The older we became, the relationship got better, especially after I moved to Canada, and we started talking more.
Anyway, she was surprisingly cool about it. I guess I was more shocked than she was.
I was picked on sometimes when I was a kid. Bullying is not something new; kids can be very cruel. Some called me “jellyfish,” “queer” or “sissy boy.” It is funny that they already sensed that I was “queer” long before I found out about myself.
My sister and I grew up with a stern father, and he often lost his temper when my sister and I started fights. He wanted me to be strong. He put me in a baseball team and a martial arts club. Feeling afraid of my father, I was a boy trying to get my parents’ approval and make them proud. My parents ran a bar at night, so my grandma raised my sister and me. At 12 we moved to a new house a little farther from the bar, so we sometimes didn’t see each other for a week even though we lived under the same roof. The lack of communication with my parents affected my relationship with my family.
When I reached 15, I stopped being a good son. My grades dropped and I barely graduated from high school so I couldn’t attend the university I wanted. I could have gone to some other universities. After 2 years studying for the university entrance exams, I didn’t feel right with what I was doing, so I quit. I was lost for 2 years; I lost all my confidence and my motivation in Japan. I was looking for a way out. Then I found the way, it was “coming to Canada.” Some people said I was refusal to face reality, but for me it was facing reality.
I suppose a part of me always knew my sexual orientation. When I look back, I believe that I needed to leave everything behind so I could free myself. After I left Japan, I was so relieved and I didn’t miss home much. I felt more delightful being away from my family rather than missing them.
In a few weeks, it will be 20 years anniversary since I moved to Canada.
I came here to find who I am and now, ironically, I feel like going back to my origin. I was debating whether it was better for my parents know about me or not. If they would suffer from knowing that I am gay, maybe I should just shut my mouth and spare them. But I am starting to think they have a right to know about me. When I think about it, I feel it would be a pity that they would leave this world without knowing anything about me. I will probably never understand what being a parent is like, but as I get older, I understand a bit what they think about children.
I recently learned that my mom has colorectal cancer and it spread to her liver. My dad also had a surgery for his cancer in 2012.
It is time… my real coming out story is “coming out” soon, I hope.
(Advice I’d give to my younger self)
“Remember you had heard ‘Welcome’ when you were born.”
**from a song called “誕生”(Tan-jo which means ‘Birth’) by 中島みゆき (Miyuki Nakajima, a Japanese Singer)