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June 14, 2024

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.

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