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News

2006 Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade Shines Despite Rain - 14 Aug 2006

( TOKYO ) The clouds looked ominous as the festivities started to gear up for the 2006 Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade this Saturday, August 12. Approximately 3,800 people gathered at the Yoyogi Park Outdoor Stage in a mix of colorful costumes and music.

The skies turned darker as thunder rolled and rain began to fall. In a matter of minutes, it had turned into a torrential downpour and the lightning forced the city to shut down the Yamanote rail line, Tokyo's major loop line, and causing many participants to walk to the site from the train stations where they were stranded.

Everyone huddled under the tents of vendors, NPOs, and local magazines like Badi and G-men as buckets of rain poured down . It looked like the parade would have to be canceled.

But then suddenly 20 minutes before the march was scheduled to start-perhaps due to a few brave souls who tried to dance the storm away-the rain stopped and it turned into a beautiful day.

“It was wonderful how even the weather supported us,” said Kanako Otsuji , Japan 's first openly lesbian politician. “I was so encouraged by all of the smiles on everyone's faces. I think that society begins to change when so many people can share in an experience of self-affirmation.”

The parade toured around the fashionable Harajuku area-the same place Gwen Stefani sang about in Harajuku Girls. It drew people from all across the country as well as many international visitors.

“It had a beautiful feeling and was so colorful,” said Hans from Belgium .

Jason from the U.S.A. said, “It's a very interesting atmosphere compared to American pride events. It seems to be less sexual and more ‘cute'. There's no attitude at all. Just very friendly and a strong sense of community.”

The Pride events continued the following day in Tokyo 's gayborhood, Shinjuku Ni Chome at the Ni Chome Festival. Several blocks were closed to traffic as thousands of people flooded into the area for music, shows, the ceremonial carrying of a Shinto shrine (done to a not-so-traditional choice of music-Madonna), as well as food and drinks. Lots of drinks.

As Pride 2006 begins to wind down here in Tokyo, people turn north to Japan's second largest Pride event, the Sapporo Rainbow March, which will be held on September 17.

“If we do not raise our voices, nobody will know of our existence,” said Aya Kamikawa , Japan 's only transsexual politician. “If we do not make other people think of us, nothing will change. Let's raise our voices together to make a better future!” (Editor: Tom Paine)

>> Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade
>> RAINBOWMARCH IN SAPPORO

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