J-pop Star Shinjiro Atae Reflects on Coming Out, Reveals Bandmates’ Reaction

Shinjiro Atae

Japanese pop idol Shinjiro Atae has opened up about his coming out journey and his bandmates’ response to it.

In an open letter with Teen Vogue, Shinjiro reflected on his decision to be honest about his sexuality now and its aftermath.

Shinjiro, a former member of the now defunct co-ed group AAA, came out to 2,000 concertgoers at a free fan event at Line Cube Shibuya in July.

However, the singer admitted that it was the most nervous he had ever felt in his life and that it “still hasn’t hit” him yet. The singer expressed he has found a support system in his band members and claimed that the support he received from them and his family was what gave him the strength to push through with his decision to come out.

Shinjiro revealed that he came out for the first time to one of his friends five years ago but has known about his sexuality as a kid. He later came out to his mom two and a half years later.

He also confessed that coming out in English was easier than his native tongue because he “has to act a little differently” in English, but when he talks in Japanese, “it just comes out naturally.”

Shinjiro also detailed that he knew about his sexuality before he even knew what the word “gay” meant but was unable to explore more about himself due to being signed at 14 and later debuting at 16.

Upon living in the US, he said that he was initially scared of people recognizing him at gay clubs in LA, saying that he was in disguise every time he would come out. 

“I felt empty inside,” he wrote. “I couldn’t be out in the US and I couldn’t be gay in Japan. So where could I live?” 

Eventually, Don Matsunaka, the president of Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ+ center Pride House Tokyo helped Shinjiro be comfortable in his skin, citing yoga, meditation, and manifestation as helpful factors for him. 

Shinjiro closed his letter by reminding people they are not alone. 

“I thought I was alone when I was younger, and it was the worst feeling I’ve had in my life,” he wrote. “But there are people who will support you. It takes time. You only live once, and you are not alone.”

 

Sources: (1) (2)

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