Coping with disaster: Japan's LGBT community speaks

Published: March 18, 2011

I have some suggestions for people who live in foreign countries to help us. First, praying for safety in damaged areas. Second, help [businesses] in Japan and buy Japanese products.
– Itaru Tomita, Chief Editor, G-Men Magazine – Tokyo

Though I have not talked to many PLHIV after the earthquake, privacy and medication compliance will be the biggest challenges among them. I am worried about access to treatment.
– Toma Nemoto, member of Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS – Nagasaki

We usually have some earthquakes in Iwate so I don’t usually get scared. But the tremours on 11 March were horrifying. One of the TV programmes told us that they lasted for about five minutes. There are still many aftershocks day and night. My family and I still put clothes and socks on when we go to bed. I’ve spent my time looking at the survivors’ list and listening to a local radio to find out whether my relatives, friends, friends’ families and friends’ friends are alive. My experience is still ongoing and I’m afraid I can’t still describe them well. I don’t watch TV now because it’s more than what I can handle to see heartbreaking news in towns where I have relatives and friends and also where I used to live (I used to live Miyako.) Towns I know are completely gone in the coastal areas in Iwate. I don’t have words to describe my feelings. I feel as if my feelings are also gone.
– Azusa Yamashita, co-founder and editor of GayJapanNews who lives in Iwate, one of the worst hit areas

Rescue teams from many countries are coming and trying to help us. Lots of aid are coming from over world. We deeply appreciate them.
– Fridae member ‘TakumaJP’

I would love to help Japan as much as I can. I just got evacuated from my city in Fukushima prefecture and I worry about the people there who I have grown so close with over the last year and a half. I hope I to be able to go back to them once the nuclear problem is over.
– Fridae member ‘nardnard’

On Friday, March 11, I was at the hair salon when the earthquake struck , getting my hair highlighted in central Tokyo, so with aluminum foil in my hair and a long white gown on, my hairdresser and I , hand in hand, descended down four flights of stairs quickly to the street. I must have looked like an alien in a sci- fi movie, but none of that mattered when you feel like your life is about to end. Huge buildings were swaying and the ground beneath our feet was shaking for several long minutes. All trains had stopped running so I would be forced to walk home in the dark, not knowing how I could possibly do that, because I can’t read Japanese and didn’t have any access to any maps, which are mostly in Japanese. I also didn’t have any cell phone connection or access to a cab.

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