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J-Pop idol Shinjiro Atae comes out as gay

Singer lived in Los Angeles for seven years

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Shinjiro Atae (YouTube screenshot from the "Into the Light" music video)

In a rare move in this conservative nation, Shinjiro Atae, a J-Pop idol, announced on social media and during an in-person event Wednesday, standing in front of a few thousand fans onstage in a darkish auditorium in central Tokyo, that he was gay.

In a statement posted to his Instagram, the 34-year-old wrote:

“To all my fans, today was a very special day for me. For years, I struggled to accept a part of myself … But now, after all I have been through, I finally have the courage to open up to you about something. I am a gay man.

It has taken me a long time to be able to say I am gay. I could not even say it to myself. However, I’ve come to realize it is better, both for me, and for the people I care about, including my fans, to live life authentically than to live a life never accepting who I truly am. I hope people who are struggling with the same feeling will find courage and know they are not alone.

I held this event today because I wanted to tell as many of you as possible directly. For those unable to attend I will be posting my full speech on my website tomorrow so you can hear the news in my own words. The link is in my bio (English subtitles available).

When I think of my work in the entertainment industry and the many things for which I am grateful, it is my relationship with my fans that first comes to mind. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for standing beside me over the years. I’d also like to thank my family, friends, staff members and my fellow AAA members for providing me their full support throughout this process.”

Speaking to his fans in Tokyo, Atae, known simply as Shinjiro said: “I respect you and consider you deserve to listen to this straight from me,” he mentioned, studying from a letter he had ready. “For years, I struggled to just accept part of myself. However now, in any case I’ve been via, I lastly have the braveness to divulge heart’s contents to you about one thing. I’m a homosexual [gay] man.”

“It has taken me a long time to be able to say I am gay. I could not even say it to myself,” he added.

Telling the fans his story, Shinjiro related that his decision to come out was based on the seven years he spent living and working in Los Angeles, he noticed how freely gay couples expressed affection in public and had such a intensively supportive community.

“Everybody was so open,” Shinjiro said. “Individuals would speak about their vulnerabilities. In Japan, folks assume it’s finest to not speak about these issues.”

There were drawbacks though he noted to living in Los Angeles. When he visited places common with the LGBTQ community in neighborhoods such as West Hollywood, and he bumped into Japanese vacationers and expats, there was the fear somebody may leak a photograph of him at a gay club or out with another guy on a date to the press back in Japan or on Japanese social media.

Shinjiro Atae (YouTube screenshot from the “Into the Light” music video)

Shinjiro first entered the highly competitive J-Pop scene 18 years ago at age 14 as a dancer in 2005. Starting with J-Pop powerhouse AAA as a dancer he built his career as a performer singing in Japanese and then later in English. AAA quickly built a large and fiercely loyal group of followers, recording eight number one hits on Billboard Japan’s Prime 100 chart.

In 2016, as the members of AAA launched into solo acts, Shinjiro moved to Los Angeles and studied English, among his other music business pursuits.

Building on his Los Angeles experiences, Shinjiro realized that his need to be himself and accepting of his sexual orientation was not political. All he needed was to “normalize” being a gay man. The first person though he noted that he needed to tell was his 66-year-old mother.

“I used to be tremendous stunned, and I had by no means imagined it,” she said to a reporter. Asking that her last name not be revealed fearing harassment as there is not wide-spread acceptance of LGBTQ people in Japan; she also noted that while she supported her son personally, she was opposed initially when he mentioned he needed to go public. She was anxious about the on-line attacks, bullying or even the resulting discrimination. 

However she added; “I’m 200 percent supportive.”

His AAA bandmates were shocked yet showed up on Wednesday to cheer him on. Misako Uno, 37, a AAA member, in a backstage interview told reporters; “I need to be a great cushion” for him.

As the event drew to a close Shinjiro ended debuting his new single and video, “Into the Light.” The English-language song is in apparent reference to his decision to come out.

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John Waters gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star

Baltimore native proclaimed ‘here I am … closer to the gutter than ever’

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John Waters receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Screenshot/YouTube Variety)

Today, the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame became a little more rainbow than it had been before. With gilded star etchings depicting icons on every corner, the powers that be dedicated September 18 to a man who arguably helped thrust LGBTQ visibility into a culture that was probably not ready at the time to receive it. The modern-day fascists amongst us might even call him a “groomer.”

We call him John Waters.

Waters first arrived in Hollywood in 1970. He parked at Hollywood and Vine and received his first bit of Los Angeles recognition.

He got a jaywalking ticket.

Outspoken and brash, Waters introduced outsider culture and heralded gay and transgender visibility into American cinema when the Stonewall uprising was still a very recent memory. His 1972 film “Pink Flamingos” was brazenly trans affirming. It powerfully and glamorously flew in the faces of audiences while trans people only faced marginalization and were stigmatized in the Nixon Vietnam and Watergate era.

His film Hairspray was first a cult favorite and in later iterations, a hit Broadway musical, and a second mainstream hit movie. It featured LGBTQ characters and a leading character in drag. Waters has also written several LGBTQ themed books including “Shock Value” and “Role Models.”

Part of the charm of John Waters is his knack for not taking himself, or any of us, too seriously. His first words as he ascended the podium for the Walk of Fame honor: “Here I am…closer to the gutter than ever!”

“I hope the most desperate showbiz rejects walk over me here and feel some sort of respect and strength,” he said later paying tribute to his greatest inspirations: The underdogs.

Waters dedicated his star to his parents. Pat and John Waters, who had been horrified by his earliest films, but encouraged him to pursue Hollywood nonetheless. “What else could I do?” he mused.

All in all, Waters was “astonished” over the tribute.  He thanked Outfest for sponsoring the event and for thinking he was “gay enough to receive it.”

Ever the director, and thinking ahead, he took a moment to make a recommendation for whom he thinks should be Hollywood Boulevard’s next star recipient:

Divine.

Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin summed up John Waters this way: “John Waters is a national treasure, a unique and original voice in American cinema. His films are subversive, hilarious, and thought-provoking, and they have helped to change the way we think about outsider culture and LGBTQ+ representation.”

Now Waters has his day, and his star, immortalized forever on the famous Hollywood path. We can only hope his effect on American culture, where the “outsider” can stand tall, proves to be as solid.

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Bomb threat delays Lil Nas X appearance at Toronto film festival

Saturday night appearance was briefly delayed

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Rapper Lil Nas X answers questions after the premiere of his documentary at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Sept. 9, 2023 (Screenshot/YouTube Toronto International Film Festival)

The widely anticipated global premiere of the documentary “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero” at the Toronto International Film Festival was forced to be delayed after a homophobic bomb threat, festival organizers said.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival which opened on Sept. 7 and runs till Sept. 17, was briefly delayed Saturday night after a threat was made according to a TIFF spokesman. Variety reported

The gala screening was scheduled for a 10 p.m. start at Roy Thomson Hall, one of TIFF’s premier venues. The documentary’s co-directors Carlos López Estrada and Zac Manuel and editor Andrew Morrow arrived on the red carpet first, posing with fans that lined the entryway. But as their subject, pop superstar Lil Nas X, pulled up in his car to join them, organizers were informed that a bomb threat had been called in and the artist was told to hold, sources told Variety. The threat specifically targeted the rapper for being a Black queer artist, one source added.

In statements to Variety and other media outlets Saturday after the incident, the TIFF spokesperson said:

“Earlier this evening, we were made aware by the Toronto Police Service of an investigation in the vicinity of the red carpet for the ‘Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero’ screening. Our standard security measures remained in place during this time and the screening commenced with a slight delay. To our knowledge, this was a general threat and not directed at the film or the artist.”

A spokesperson for Toronto Police on Sunday said: “Yesterday, at the TIFF, a passerby uttered a threat towards private security.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Toronto Police and the private security swept the scene and cleared within 20 minutes. The threat was general and did not target any one person.”

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Madonna announces rescheduled tour dates

Celebration Tour will be in D.C. on Dec. 18-19

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(Screenshot via YouTube)

Madonna has announced her rescheduled Celebration Tour will start in London on Oct. 14.

The tour was to have begun in Vancouver, British Columbia, last month, but the singer postponed it after a bacterial infection left her in the ICU. Madonna is scheduled to perform at the Capital One Arena in D.C. on Dec. 18-19.

Madonna turned 65 on Wednesday.

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