Kazuyo Katsuma(left), and her partner Hiroko Masuhara(right)

When Ms. Katsuma attended her high school’s reunion party in December,

2015, she heard her teacher saying “the woman who received the first same- sex partnership certificate in Shibuya Ward used to go to this school.” After the party, she was looking at her facebook and saw the woman in the picture one of her friends uploaded there. “I know her. She and I went to the same high school,” she left the comment. A few days later, her friend introduced the woman, Ms. Masuhara, to Ms. Katsuma.

To Ms. Masuhara, Ms. Katsuma was the person she had looked up to and respected a lot. Ms. Masuhara was dating Koyuki Higashi at that time so they were sometimes invited to Ms. Katsuma’s dinner party and her study group.

Ms. Katsuma had always been attracted to women, but she had tried not to think about it for a long time. But when she was invited to Tokyo Rainbow Pride, she was very surprised to see so many openly LGBTQ people. “I knew nothing about the parade. I felt Japan had changed a lot. Everyone looked so free and happy,” Ms. Katsuma said, recalling that day.

After attending Tokyo Rainbow Pride, she invited Ms. Masuhara to her study group as a guest speaker and asked her to talk about LGBTQ. “I have never said this here, but actually I am lesbian, too.” When some of her study group members said, she was very surprised. “When it’s not something special, it’s not something to hide. That’s why a lot of countries have legalized same-sex marriage. That’s what I learned from her,” she said.

In December, 2017, Ms. Masuhara broke up with Ms. Higashi and their partnership ended. That is when Ms. Katsuma made up her mind to tell Ms. Masuhara her feelings.

In January, 2018, they started living together.

Ms. Katsuma might be bisexual or pansexual, but she does not seem to be interested in defining herself in that way. She says she has an experience of being in love with a man, but she loves Ms. Masuhara now. She says she loves that person, not that person’s gender.

She had told her child about her relationship with Ms. Masuhara, but she hadn’t told anyone else.

When someone came over to their apartment, Ms. Masuhara had to hide. When they went out for dinner with their friends, they had to try not to let anyone find out their relationship.

“If we continue to live like this, we will never go on a trip or introduce us to our friends.” They started wanting to live freely as a couple.

“Isn’t it weird that I have to go all the way and tell people I’m in love with a woman? Left-handed people never have to do that. It requires courage to publicly come out. That means discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQ do exist in Japan. I was in the closet for a long time. I think I had this idea that a man should love a woman and a woman should love a man. But, now I want to tell this to everyone trapped in between the social norms and their true selves. It is okay to love someone of the same sex. You don’t need to feel bad about being attracted to who you love. I was able to change how I thought about myself thanks to my partner and people I met. They were living freely and shining. I know how hard it is. But I met my partner and she helped me change. I hope my coming-out story will help someone out there and give them a chance to finally change.”

Ms. Katsuma’s coming-out story was first released on BuzzFeed. Right after that, it was shared and retweeted throughout SNSs, receiving a lot of supportive comments.

05/29/2018

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