During a sheltered upbringing in a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, gay Japanese monk Kodo Nishimura kept his sexuality a closely guarded secret, and also concealed his burgeoning love of make-up.
Nowadays, Nishimura blends religious duties with work as a make-up artist, making him an unusual figure in socially conservative Japan, where same-sex marriage remains illegal and being openly gay is largely taboo.
He has not received any backlash from within his Buddhist community, although he said he sometimes receives comments and messages mocking him on social media.
Despite widespread conservative attitudes, Japan’s laws on LGBT+ issues are relatively liberal compared with many Asian countries, with gay sex legal since 1880.
But although about two dozen cities, towns and wards issue same-sex partnership certificates, LGBT+ rights campaigners say they lack legal standing and prejudice persists.
That spurred Nishimura into writing his book, which recounts his transition from feeling “lonely and inferior” to becoming the person he is today.
He said he hoped his story could raise awareness and spark discussion about LGBT+ rights issues.
“Once people start to learn about diversity, the laws (for LGBT+ rights) will follow,” he said.
This article was first published in Asia One . All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.