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Visualizing the Future of Pride with Kodo Nishimura

Who are some of your role models within the LGBTQ+ community and why?

Anyone unafraid to be who they are can be a great role model. One of my role models is a professor at my art school, Parsons School of Design in New York. Growing up, I used to feel that being part of the LGBTQ+ community meant something unsophisticated, associated with sexual connotations and wild parties. However, my art professor was so poised, leading the Fine Arts Department I was in. He was stylish, wise, and well-respected. He was not shy at all about sharing the presence of his husband. This was different from the “stereotypical gay man” often negatively mocked in the Japanese media. His presence showed me that people from the LGBTQ+ community are diverse and limitless. I learned that there is nothing to hide about my sexuality, and I was able to come out proudly thanks to him. Now, I hope to show that a Buddhist monk can also be a proud homosexual with my existence.

What does Pride Month mean to you personally? 

We have to be proud of ourselves always, but having a reminder like Pride Month is a great way to reflect on how far we have come and the obstacles we still have to overcome. For example, in Japan, we still do not have the right to marriage equality. During the Pride Parade in Tokyo, people say “Happy Pride” as a slogan. Some criticize that we are not truly “happy” because we still lack certain rights. However, the situation in Japan is slowly improving. My motto is that, even in difficult situations, we should always work for equality, focusing on the happiness that can come from change, and trying to enjoy the process. I don’t want to ruin my everyday smiles with constant anger about injustice.

How do you envision the future of Pride Month celebrations? 

I think what we celebrate each year varies, depending on the events and progress of that year. I hope that in the future, we will be able to look back at the present and celebrate how much progress we have made. It is up to us to visualize and realize the future that we want to live in!

What message would you like to share with readers about the importance of self-acceptance?

I want to share my realization that we should always feel valuable and never feel inferior to others for any reason. One of the reasons Buddhism was introduced 2,500 years ago was to liberate people from discrimination. With my book, “This Monk Wears Heels: Be Who You Are,” I hope to share my personal stories of overcoming feelings of inferiority as a homosexual, along with the Buddhist teachings I learned from my monk training. My mission is to encourage you to follow your heart and shine in your own unique color.

Kodo Nishimura’s book This Monk Wears Heels: Be Who You Are is available now at all good book retailers. Follow his Instagram @kodomakeup to keep up with his latest endeavours.

Book Extract: She Fights Back by Joanna Ziobronowicz

As children, we are often told stories about good prevailing over evil, and about that elusive “happily ever after”. As little girls, we may be taught that if we’re obedient, we will be rewarded for our goodness. When we grow up, some of us realize that always conforming and always being kind can threaten our boundaries, shatter our sense of self-worth, and at times, expose us to trauma.

I wouldn’t be writing this book if I myself hadn’t fallen victim to detrimental cultural conditioning, psychological trauma and physical attacks that I had to overcome. It took many years and many uncomfortable life lessons to cultivate a strong sense of self-belief, as well as to acquire the valuable physical skills needed to protect myself, but these experiences were necessary in helping me understand what women need to do to keep themselves safe.

After years of working in the security sector, I’ve learned that in addition to relying on my martial arts skillset, it is also crucial to stay alert and keep a watchful eye over people and surroundings.

When I was working in security, threats could come from anyone and anywhere, often when I least expected them. All it took was one moment of inattention to be caught off-guard. However, over time, I found common patterns and warning signs that allowed me to spot and assess threats early on, leading to more efficient responses.

By watching my work colleagues handling conflicts, and also by getting involved in various physical interventions myself, I came to realize that some of the most critical aspects of self-defence are having confidence in your own abilities, and having conviction in your actions. I noticed that these qualities were primary drivers for performance, and for finding solutions when faced with highly triggering situations. Today, I know that I could teach you how to impeccably execute the most effective self-defence moves, but without the ability to assert yourself and without self-belief in your capabilities, they won’t be enough. 

I observed similar psychological aspects of performance during my sports career, both as a coach and as an active competitor in various martial arts. With over 23 years of training experience, I have seen that high performance is fuelled by incredibly strong self-belief, unwavering conviction, and a razor-sharp mindset. I’ve studied alongside world-class athletes, have competed at the highest level, and time and time again I’ve demonstrated, both to myself and those that I coached, that everything begins in the mind. I’ve seen exceptionally talented athletes freeze before tournaments, mentally giving up before even setting foot into the competition arena. I’ve learnt that a champion is made not just through appropriate physical preparation, but also through a strong mental drive toward their actions and achievements.

With this in mind, we should explore both the physical and psychological aspects of self-defence. If you want to win your battles, it’s time to acknowledge and build upon the confidence that will enable you to assert your rights, stand up for yourself, and stay physically prepared.

 

She Fights Back by Joanna Ziobronowicz is publishing July 9th 2024 and is available to pre-order now.

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