Japan Elects First Out Gay Man

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 26 2011 1:50 PM ET

Tokyo gave Japan its first openly gay male elected official Sunday, when Taiga Ishikawa was picked to serve in the Toshima ward assembly, the governing body for that section of the city.

Ishikawa was one of 53 candidates vying for 36 seats, according to The Japan Times Ishikawa, a 36-year-old writer and activist, said he hopes his election will help encourage LGBT people who feel isolated.

"I will do my best to make Toshima ward more friendly to LGBT people, young people, and foreigners," he said.

In addition to coming out in his book Boku no Kareshi wa Doko ni Iru? (Where Is My Boyfriend?) in 2002, Ishikawa founded a nonprofit for LGBT networking, and was the secretary for Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima.

Kanako Otsuji, an out lesbian, was elected to the Osaka prefectural assembly in 2003. In 2007 she ran unsuccessfully for the upper house of parliament as a member of the Democratic Party.