In Tokyo, everything is charming. Neon lights are a staple of the Japanese capital’s character. No other place does neon shine so brightly like Shinjuku. It’s a virtual Sci-fi film set equipped with a dash of quirk and wit. The lack of flying cars and Gucci wearing robots, reminds us that it’s not quite an episode of the Jetsons yet.
The gays make up for the lack of robots. Shinjuku is home to Tokyo’s gay hangouts. On my comeback trip I was curious to see what gay life was like in Japan. Therefore, I wondered Shinjuku dark alleys and fluorescent colored streets searching for gayness.
As I made my voyage into gay-landia, something interesting happened. I saw nothing, but advertisements for gentleman clubs (aka women who entertain men). “Oh no, I accidentally ended up in straight-landia.” Men kept trying to persuade me to enter these dens of sin and flesh. However, I proudly proclaimed, “no, no I’m gay.” The men looked puzzled ” Aww gay, ni-chome.” and they pointed me west.
I walked toward the land of gay. Love hotels surrounded me. Couples (to have quick sex) have always utilized these bewildering institutions. In the grand tradition of all things Japanese, even love hotels looked cute and inviting.
There was a shop on the corner with Japanese gay magazines, which acted as my welcome to gay Tokyo. I felt just like Dorothy finding OZ. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an entourage of a lion, scarecrow and tin man. Of course, there was plenty of gay life for me back in New York, but understanding homosexuals abroad has kept me curious to explore the world.
Unlike New York gay bars, the ones in Tokyo were tiny. They could probably only seat about five people. I found a more Western style bar and made friends with two of the guys there. One was a bit more laid-back and he was just my type. Somewhere between, the where are you from question? And nice to meet you, I found out his very cute English friend was straight. “Fuck,” said my brain. He was there having a casual drink with his best gay buddy.
His accent was adorable and we had a good conversation. He asked me questions like ” Do you have a stoop?” “Is it true New Yorkers hang out on stoops?” Priceless, moments were a signature of that evening. We ended up bonding that night in a most bromance kind of way. We even had fun getting lost in the maze of metro lines at Shinjuku station together. As I said goodbye to him on the metro, the same thought kept persisting ” Of course, I fell for the one straight guy in all of gay Tokyo, whoops.”
I’ll always remember gay Shinjuku for it’s kitsch, weak well drinks, cute guys, gay magazines and funky lounge music. Tokyo with all its glamour, fashion & art remains a hub for gays from all over the world.