To say I love what I love!

Kobe street action for creating a community in which no one is denied for who they are

 

Hello, my name is Waka Kobayashi. I have lived in Hyogo for thirty years. I love animals and nature. I devoted my junior high and high school years to Kendo; in university, I built houses in the Philippines and in South Korea; I biked to Hiroshima; I dance yosakoi… And I am a sexual minority.

 

Every one walking down the street with their heads up regardless of their roots, bodies, and whom they love

 

That is the society I strive for. Though in reality, I have to put on a charade of ‘an ordinary person’ every day. I thought, may be a day in a year I deserve to ‘be myself’. This is what drives me to organize Kobe IDAHO, a street event, every May since 2011.

 

Marking the 7th anniversary this year, Kobe IDAHO has been funded by my pocket money and some donations. I also had to ask for volunteers, who are knowledgeable and experienced in the field of human rights issues and community organizing, to coordinate more than thirty participants every year (around 1/3 of them has never attended a sexuality-related event). All of these necessities added up; so this year, I decided to launch a crowdfunding project.

 

Kobe IDAHO is an only annually organized, yet important, event. Please help me continue this event next year, and more years to come!

 

YES to sexual diversity!

 

 

We stand in front of the Kobe Marui. Holding onto the microphone, we read messages sent to us for strangers passing by.

 

May 17th, known as IDAHO(T) (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia), is an internationally celebrated day. In 2014, Japan recognized the day as “A Day to Say YES to sexual diversity”. Organized primarily through “Yappa IDAHO! Idaho-net”, the event has been held simultaneously in various places to speak up about sexual diversity.

 

I started Kobe IDAHO in 2011, after participating in Osaka IDAHO in 2010.

Hand-made flag for Kobe 2016

We received many messages.

 

Kobe IDAHOT is a street action, reading various messages aloud for the passersby. The venue is in front of Kobe Marui with lots of traffic. We raise the six-colored rainbow flags, representing sexual diversity. This day, we speak to people using words using “YES” instead of negative words such as “anti-” or “no”.

 

“YES to sexual diversity!”

“We are here!”

“I am homosexual! Shall we hug?”

 

People raising rainbow flags. People writing messages on their handmade flag. People arriving hours early because they are nervous. A family in tears with a coming out. We witness these emotional scenes.

 

People giving us snacks saying “I am also like you; keep up the great work.” People watching us for hours from a bridge in distance. People giving us donuts saying “I support you”…

 

Most people navigate their lives hiding their sexuality (gender identity and/or sexual orientation). For this reason, I consider the street action sending out messages very meaningful.

 

This action does not only aim for raising awareness locally; it also serves as an affirmation of the participants and authors of the messages.

 

Participants distributing flyers. We had more than forty participants at the most.

 

 

The crowdfunding project allows us to create flags and tapestries for future events, as well as thank-you goods for the donors.

 

<As a street action, what do you need the money for?>

 

To organize the event, we need funds, for example, for copying, panels, commute, the road usage permit, goods, microphones and speakers…

 

<What does the cloudfunding contribute to?>

 

This time, we raise money for purchasing flags and tapestries for future usage, as well as for creating goods to support Kobe IDAHO (a part of the profit contributes to the event). The goal amount 250,000 yen will fund us till 2020.

 

* Flags and Tapestries *

 

Kobe IDAHO have been making flags and tapestries, painting cardboards and cloths. As these materials only last for a year, it gets costly to make these every year. So I would like to create flags and tapestries with printed polyester cloths.

 

* To help this action spread nation-wide, I will share the design data for free on our website!

An image of flags and tapestries

The design will have a spirit of “our colors,” a value represented by Kobe IDAHO!

 

 

* Goods *

 

We have postcards, pins, key charms, and rainbow earrings made with Venetian glass. These goods will be available nation-wide through an online store to secure future funds.

We pick postcards for you♪

 

Studio Koba original rainbow Venetian glass

My dad will create these for you in best wishes

 

Can’t show my face, but my wish is strong!

“Daijobu Kumasan (It’s OK bear)”

 

My traumas will not disappear.

However, this action supports me.

 

Finally, please allow me to talk about myself. I was outed (to disclose someone’s sexuality without their consent) in a company I was hired as a new graduate. Although the person did not out me with a bad intention, I learnt the rumor “Kobayashi is in a relationship with a woman” was shared by a close to 100 people after a weekend, when I went to work.

 

I never forget that day. People stared at me with a grin on their faces. Colleagues told me to stay quiet. I learnt that the manager made fund of me at a business drinking gathering, and that the rumor was spread on twitter. I cried in the bathroom many times. It was scary to talk to people in a different sector at the company, or to the clients. Then I lost my hearing. As the social anxiety remained even after quitting the company, I did several part time jobs where I did not need to talk to people. And I had depression.

 

For the last ten years I have been part of the sexual minority activism, but my wound does not heal. Kobe IDAHO is the one day I can be myself. Continuing this action supports and saves my spirit.

 

I want to create a society where no more people like me get hurt; a society where these passersby do not hurt anyone.

 

I do not want to get hurt anymore, nor do I want anyone to get hurt. This is my wish from the bottom of my heart.

 

This challenge is a seed for a society where everyone can choose how they live.

Please give me your support!

 

For information of the previous events, please go to our website.

Kobe IDAHO picture (with a permission to upload on SNS)

 

Updates

An introductory video uploaded (with a three minute subtitle)!

A three minute video by Yui, a participant at IDAHO♪ A three minute introduction to Kobe IDAHO! Please turn on the CC for subtitles on youtube.

新着情報一覧へ