Saturday, September 13, 2008

Japanese Queer Girls FTW!

I'm so thrilled!

Lots of countries seem to be jumping onto the scene with their queer grrl revolutions in ways that let us not-so-worldly Americans get a taste of their national dyke cultures. Just take a look at Emilie Jouvet- whose incredible porno "Pour Une Nuit" (translation: "One Night Stand") suddenly brought it to my attention that, hey, whoa . . . France has gay girls, too! It's just amazing, really, to be exposed to cross-cultural queerness.

And yet, my favorite country, the one I visited twice and long to return back to, has kept itself surprisingly mum on the whole lesbian thing. I searched longingly high and low for Japanese GLBT resources. Of course, there are amazingly talented Asian-American queer men and women doing really great things- just take a look at, for one example, Good Asian Drivers (okay, okay, I admit it- I'm pimping them mostly because I'm in love with their totally queer version of "I Kissed A Girl"). But every attempt to explore Japanese GLBT culture (from the States, that is) pretty much let me down.

In Japan, I made sure I didn't leave before visiting Tokyo's famous Shinjuku No Chome- a fantastic little street lined with gay and lesbian bars- the one and only place that queerness was openly celebrated (flags on the street proclaimed it, in English, as "Friendly Town"), and, indeed, even just visible. Finally, there were some girls who escaped the "kawaii syndrome" (wherein everything for girls is cute, feminine, and quite often girlish, even for older women) and validated my theory that there's queerness everywhere, even if it's in hiding. My Japanese language skills at the time limited the scope of our conversations, unfortunately, but the tantalizing glimpses of a rich community were there.

But once back in America, it suddenly became that much harder. Books on the subject were either incredibly academic and dry (Sharon Chalmer's "Emerging Lesbian Voices From Japan"), fetishized (any manga featuring yuri, a.k.a. cartoon lesbian love comic books), or both general and outdated (the 1998 "Queer Japan: Personal Stories Of Japanese Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals, and Bisexuals"). (There is, however, a wonderful exception: the new "Sparkling Rain", which I haven't gotten my hands on yet, but greatly hope to soon). The highly-touted first Japanese film both by and about lesbians ("Sugar Sweet") was directed by Malaysian Desiree Lim and pretty much flopped, even by independent film standards. And what with the website (which worked to faciliate building community between lesbians in Asia) all-too-recently going belly-up since its creation in 1997, my Google searches for "Japanese + lesbian" get me lots and lots of porn sites . . . and none of them, unfortunately, are Crash Pad-style.

It seemed hopeless. Surely there were resources out there for Japanese lesbians, unfortunately in kanji-laden, .jp domain websites that would take me years to completely translate and decipher. All information that readily came up in English were pretty basic and very fragmented . . . there was nothing personal, nothing revolutionary, nothing very queer. No big sites to guide you through Japanese lesbian culture.

Until now!

Or, really, I suppose the fabulous Tokyo-based website Tokyo Wrestling has been around for a while . . . since April '07, according to its archives (now celebrating its one-year anniversary!). Perhaps you more in-tune folks had previously discovered it. But for me, the site, with extensive information, numerous links, GLBT news headlines, and the ability to view it in Japanese, English, and even French, is pretty astounding. The focus on being not only lesbian, but rather queer oriented, is really refreshing. And it's even prettily designed and consistently updated.

I'm just happy as a clam. And even if you aren't a total Japanophile, I suggest checking it out.

No comments: