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J-Pop Star Shinjiro Atae Opens Up About Coming Out in Emotional Letter

J-Pop Star Shinjiro Atae Opens Up About Coming Out in Emotional Letter

J-Pop Star Shinjiro Atae Opens Up About Coming Out in Emotional Letter
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After publicly coming out on stage, the artist detailed his journey and his reason for choosing now to be his authentic self.

It’s been less than a month since Japanese pop star Shinjiro Atae came out during a show in Tokyo in front of 2,000 concertgoers.

Best known for his role in the J-pop group AAA, which dissolved in 2021, Atae penned an open letter on Teen Vogue detailing his experience and why he chose now as the time to be open about who he is.

Admitting it “still hasn’t hit” him yet and that he was “literally shaking, freaking out, scared,” Atae admitted it was the most nervous he had ever felt in his life. That said, the support he received from his friends and family was what gave him strength to read his coming-out letter to the audience.

“I’ve been coming out for many years,” he wrote, saying it started five years ago with a best friend and two-and-a-half years since he told his mom.

He also noted that coming out in English was easier than his native Japanese tongue, because, “When I speak English, I have to act a little differently. It’s not 100 percent me. But when I talk in Japanese, I don’t even have to think about it, it just comes out naturally.”

Atae also details growing up and knowing about his sexuality before he even knew what the word “gay” meant. He was 14 when he signed to his record label, 16 when he debuted in his pop group, and said he was so busy he didn’t have time to accept himself or learn anything about LGBTQ+ life.

Now living in the U.S., he said he was scared at first of people recognizing him at gay clubs in LA, saying that any time he dared to venture out he did so in disguise.

“I felt empty inside,” he wrote. “I couldn’t be out in the U.S., and I couldn’t be gay in Japan. So where could I live?”

Atae teamed up with Don Matsunaka, the president of Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ+ center Pride House Tokyo. Matsunaka helped Atae with the baby steps that it took to be comfortable in his skin, noting yoga, meditation, and manifestation ultimately worked in his favor.

Closing out his letter, Atae wants to remind people they are not alone.

“I thought I was alone when I was younger, and it was the worst feeling I’ve had in my life,” he wrote. “But there are people who will support you. It takes time. You only live once, and you are not alone.”

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Andrew J. Stillman