Media Mix, June 23, 2013

Matsuko Deluxe being interviewed on "Heart Net TV"

Matsuko Deluxe being interviewed on “Heart Net TV”

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, about NHK’s nightly series Heart Net TV and its occasional coverage of sexual minorities. Since the show is on NHK’s education channel, its purposes are nominally didactic. Many of the problems faced by LGBT individuals and youngsters experiencing gender confusion center on the education system, since most sexual minorites find their feelings confounded by their circumstances in school. One show aired two weeks ago focused on a small NPO that runs a consultation center for young people who feel they have no place to discuss these feelings. Their frustrations came to a head in school. The head of the NPO, a gay man who admits that he still hasn’t told his own parents about his sexual orientation, explains that more than one thousand young people visit the center every year because it’s the only place where they feel comfortable enough to discuss their lives. NHK interviewed two visitors, both digitally masked and anonymous. One was a gay man who recently graduated from high school and came to the center because he had no idea how “people like me” live their lives. Initially more curious than confounded, while a student he connected to other gay men through the Internet, a situation the center director called “dangerous” because so many sexual predators use the web to find young people. Fortunately, the young man did find someone who was mature and honest about his own homoerotic experiences. He implies they had a sexual relationship because he said they eventually “broke up.” He was devastated, but couldn’t talk to his heterosexual friends about it. He  feels lonely, and the new frustration is that now that he knows something about the homosexual community he also understands how underground it is. In order to meet other gay men he again has to go on the Internet, as if he were sneaking around. “I’m not looking for sex,” he says, but invariably that’s what the people he meets online want, and for a time he believed he was being stalked by someone. Eventually, he went to his school nurse and it was she who recommended the NPO, so obviously some progress is being made in the educational community with regard to helping sexual minorities come to grips with whatever identity issues they have. The other visitor interviewed by NHK was a lesbian who is still in high school. She automatically believes her teachers will never understand her, and mentions a classroom discussion in a health science class about HIV in which one student asked if gays and lesbians contracted HIV and the teacher said, yes, they do, and then started laughing. “It was as if the thought of gays and lesbians having sex disgusted him,” the student told NHK. Later, alone, she cried in frustration at the thought of the teacher’s reflexive callousness. If that is the attitude that most students absorb in school, “then they will automatically think I’m weird if they find out I’m a lesbian,” she said. According to research cited on the show, school is the main focus of consternation among LGBT individuals and people suffering from GID; 58.6 percent of GID people still in school have “contemplated suicide” and 14 percent have “actually attempted suicide.” Apparently, plenty of teachers are sympathetic to sexual minority students but are afraid of saying or doing something wrong around them. It was this bit of intelligence that prompted Kayo Satoh’s comment mentioned at the end of the column that they don’t need to be so scared; that they should just treat each student as an individual. In school, where conformity is introduced and stressed, that may be harder than it sounds.

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