Publication Details

McLelland, MJ, Interpretation and Orientalism: Outing Japan's Sexual Minorities to the English-Speaking World, in Boer, I(ed), After Orientalism: Critical Engagements, Productive Looks, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 2003, 105-22. The publisher website is available here.


The growing visibility of Japanese gay men and lesbians who articulate their identities in a manner similar to activists in the west has been heightened by two recent English books Queer Japan and Coming Out in Japan. While acknowledging the need to listen to a plurality of voices from Japan, this essay critiques the manner in which the coming-out narratives in these books have been framed by their western translators and editors. In the introductions to both books, Japan is (once again) pictured as a feudal and repressive society. In their efforts to let the homosexual subaltern speak, the translators fall into the common orientalist paradigm of once more homogenizing the Japanese people even as they attempt to use the stories of their homosexual narrators to break down the myth of Japanese homogeneity.