U.S. Ambassador to Hold “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” Reception for U.S. and Japanese Business Leaders
by Tokyo Guest Poster Jason Kendy
It was approximately a year ago when Hillary Clinton issued a State Department directive to overseas U.S. embassies: find ways to reach out to local populations regarding LGBT issues. It was part of a plan to do with raising of awareness of LGBT issues worldwide and the importance of foreign countries embracing thier LGBT communities and to demonstrate U.S. support overall on LGBT Equality.
I was skeptical to say the least.
Until yesterday that is, when I received by snail mail a personal (embossed no less!) invitation from U.S. Ambassador John Roos to visit his residence for a reception honoring LGBT Pride Month. Huh, wha? Is this the United States we’re talking about?
Seems ‘ol Hillary has been cracking the whip, making sure a directive doesn’t remain simply that and instead results in actual steps. The embassy did its homework as well— casting far and wide for the guest list. Word is they have invited not only U.S. business leaders here in Tokyo, but also executives from Japanese companies with sexual orientation non-discrimination policies (Nomura is a biggie that comes to mind) as well as companies making an actual gay marketing push (Softbank, Google Japan, Alfa Romeo Japan, some domestic beverage makers).
I contacted the embassy to suggest they include a recently elected openly gay assemblyman here, as well as some of the more effective political activists in the Japanese community.
As a 25-year resident of Japan, I can only hope the reactionary Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara hears about all this! The old coot is an unspeakable bigot from way back who never ceases to anger foreign and domestic communities alike with his intolerant views.
It says a lot to people like Ishihara, to the prime minister, and to Japan’s business community that the nation’s closest ally by far is opening up its ambassador’s residence specifically for this event.
Well done, Madame Secretary and Mr. President.
**Jason Kendy, a gay U.S. citizen, leads corporate communications at a major European financial institution in Tokyo. He left the U.S. for Tokyo just after college during the Reagan years and soon realized he had no intention of returning to the anti-gay environment of his birthplace. He would love to see the U.S. amend its immigration laws to recognize the validity of his 12-year relationship with his Japanese partner—but certainly is not holding his breath. You can follow Jason’s personal musings at @jkentokyo on Twitter.