A Colorful Look Back at Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2016

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Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP) Week concluded on Sunday May 8 with a blow-out parade and festivities. The TRP Parade marched through Shibuya and Harajuku districts before making its way to Yoyogi Park Event Arena, where thousands of supporters were lined up to welcome and congratulate the participants. All in all, the event drew 70,000 people.

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A hot spring sun high overhead, wafts from grilling food blowing over the grounds, and a crowd thick with bright colors filled the area. Over on the main stage, “rickshaw boys” danced in the heat, and speeches were balanced out with musical acts, shamisen performances, and drag queen shows. Hundreds of booths, each hosted by companies supporting the cause, were draped in rainbow flags, offering face painting, contests, deals, and collecting signatures for petitions. Drag queens meandered the grounds, collecting donations in exchange for goofy photos.

Beyond the resources, food, and booths of companies proud to be sponsoring the event, one thing was clear: the sheer happiness of all who were there, even for a brief moment. Everyone was all smiles and hugs, in between the photo-taking and flag-waving. There were throngs of people dressed up in their best or most extreme outfits, feeling comfortably free to be themselves. The recent strides the community has made, and the hurdles they have overcome globally, were felt throughout the week; pride, and being a part of the movement, is not meant to be contained in a single week.

This week-long celebration is a reminder of how far society has progressed, but a distinct marking point for the distance yet to go. TRP acted as a vessel to integrate all ranges of the LGBT spectrum, and unite the general public in the cause: the more support garnered from the surrounding communities, the faster acceptance and changes are bound to happen. Undoubtedly, TRP week and parade were an absolute blast, as the spectators and participants showed, but underneath, the political and social messages were felt rippling through the event, hopefully setting the stage for a year of progress in human rights.

Photos by Natalie Jacobsen

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