Kyushu Rainbow Pride weekend, one I had been looking forward to ever since I missed the first Kyushu Pride last year. A couple of us decided to head up to Fukuoka on a Friday and enjoy the long weekend in the wonderfully bursting city before heading back down to Nagasaki on Monday evening, ready for work the next day.
We decided to stay at an Air B&B, since they tend to be pretty decently priced and reliable in Fukuoka, and with everything just a short underground train trip away, its easier to go further from the centre of Tenjin and Hakata.
After our plans to go to Sumo fell through on the Saturday, we decided to spend our time milling about Fukuoka and enjoying the hustle and bustle you just don’t get in Nagasaki. Now, I don’t mean the crowds and the pushing, I hate that. I mean the hustle and bustle vibe, when everyone is peaked with energy and buzzing around the city looking for the next best buy or the most delicious cup of coffee. I always feel like a trip to Fukuoka revitalises me, as if I soak up some of the Fukuoka vibe as I brush past people in the street.
We spent our day eating at Bibliotheque and shopping, before we all went to our separate flats for a little reprieve. Me, Adam and Aaron took this time to take to the bathroom with wine and dye our hair in preparation for tomorrows Pride Parade. Aaron turned out the most colourful of us all, with a total of four colours in his hair!
We were now ready for Pride!!
Despite the sometimes unreliability of Kyushu weather, the sun was out in full swing on Sunday, November the 22nd, ready to celebrate this wonderful new kind of movement in Fukuoka.
With this only being the second pride to take place in Fukuoka, I had no idea what to expect. Would anyone even show up? I was more than pleasantly surprised. The parade would start and end at Reisen Park, just a stones throw away from Canal City in Hakata. I needn’t have worried, however, for the park was jam packed with stores and people alike, all chattering and smiling; welcoming. Warm hugs were given out freely while people of all ages gathered around to have the various LGBT flags painted onto their skin. Gay, bisexual, transgender, you name it, the list goes on.
Musicians and drag queens performed on the flatpack stage, coming out of their shell and showing their colours proudly to the world. Like a butterflies shedding it’s chrysalis, they flourished without their societal mask. The atmosphere was electric.
In our excitement, we had forgotten to pre-sign up for the parade itself, but thanks to the sea of people wanting to participate, all we had to do was attach ourselves onto the end and there you have it, we were apart of the long chain of strength that was the pride parade.
I have to admit, with Japan being comparatively more than a little behind in the gay rights movement, I was a little nervous as to how such a display would be received.
My nervousness was preemptive. As I looked around, I realised that the majority of the people looking back were waving and smiling, some holding up their own iconic LGBT rainbow flag in support.
And if supporting the right for everyone to love wasn’t enough for you, food vendors from all over Fukuoka also came to gather under the shade of the trees to feed the hungry. Cups were filled with hot wine while boxes were jam packed with meats and breads in various forms. They say a good ol’ party is nothing without good food and company, and Kyushu Rainbow Pride lacked in neither.
To see everyone happy and talking, free of prejudice was wonderful. People from all walks of life, Japanese or not, came together under this one unifying event and accepted one another without question. I was reminded just how important pride festivals are, and how freeing acceptance can truly be healing. It was like chicken soup for the soul.
The after party to pride was pretty great and we made our way to a little known club called ‘Happy Cock’, who’s logo kind of gave me the creeps. I don’t want to see an angry jacked up looking rooster while I’m getting drunk and listening to loud rhythm thats elevating my heart rate with each pump thank you very much.
The next day was spent wandering around in the crisp air, wandering around the Christmas market that had set up camp outside of Hakata station, enjoying the warm aroma of mulled wine and munching on sugary German treats.
What a fantastic prelude to Christmas this weekend was, and for any of you living in the area, or planning to visit next year, I would 100% without a doubt recommend this event!