“Two Gaijin in Gay Japan” by Felice Picano

Story Summary

He has been warned by friends Dan and Martha that Japan is twenty years behind the US in terms of the gay scene. He is told gaijin - foreigners - are not even allowed in most of the gay bars. But when he travels there to publicise his new book, his experience is somewhat different.

Two Gaijin in Gay Japan

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About the Author
Felice Picano is the author of thirty-five books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, nonfiction, and plays. His work is translated into many languages. Several titles were national and international bestsellers, and four plays have been produced. In the U.S., he is considered a founder of modern gay literature along with the other members of the path breaking Violet Quill Club of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Internationally, he is considered an eminent Post-Modernist. Picano was involved in early GLBT media , writing and editing at The Advocate, Out, Christopher Street, and The New York Native. Scores of his essays, stories and reviews have also appeared in major media around the U.S. In 1977, Picano founded the first all gay publishing house, The SeaHorse Press, and then joined two friends in 1981 to form The Gay Presses of New York. Its first title was Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy and it subsequently dominated the independent gay book scene for over fifteen years publishing almost 75 titles by men and women across the country and from France and the United Kingdom. Picano’s first novel was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1975. Since then he’s been nominated for and/or won dozens of literary awards in the U.S. Britain, France and Germany, including a Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award in 2009. He was also one of OUT Magazine’s 100 Important Gay People of that year. At the 2004 Tennessee Williams Festival, Felice received the Violet Quill Life Achievement Award, and in 2011 he was named a West Hollywood Rainbow Lifetime Award recipient, and a California State Legislature honoree. The New York Times listed Picano’s history/memoir of early GLBT Culture, Art & Sex in Greenwich Village as one of its Notable Books of 2007. A half dozen of his books have remained continually in print since their publication four decades ago. Including such gay classics as The Lure, Late in the Season, Ambidextrous and Like People in History. Picano’s most recent work includes True Stories Too: People and Places From My Past, 20th Century Unlimited:Two Novellas and the memoir, Nights at Rizzoli. His notebooks, papers, and archives up to 1990 can be found at The Beinecke Library at Yale University and in the Fales Collection in the Bobst Library at New York University. Picano was openly gay and “out” before the Stonewall Riots and was associated with the early gay political movement. Felice has appeared in Jeffrey Schwarz’s film Activist: the Life and Times of Vito Russo; Mark Mullian’s film, Stonewall: The Movement and Jim Tushinki’s film. I Always Said Yes; The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole. Faced with the threat of what would become the AIDS Epidemic, in 1980, Picano joined ten other men in forming GMHC, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first and still largest organization to combat the disease and succour the stricken. Those experiences led him to co-author The New Joy of Gay Sex (1992) and The Joy of Gay Sex, 3rd Edition (2003), with the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Silverstein, addressing all aspects of gay men’s mental and physical health issues. They traveled around the U.S. and then around the world during the 1990’s bringing much needed attention to nascent AIDS organizations, especially in Australia, Japan, Israel, and Iceland. That book is now in its 21st edition, translated into seventeen languages including Hebrew, Slovenian and Taiwanese. Picano was the first openly gay novelist to do a book tour in the United States in 1979, and has also toured the British Isles, Australia, France and Germany as a gay author. Picano was a co-founder of the Vito Russo/Audre Lorde Library at the Gay and Lesbian Center of New York City, a founding member of the Publishing Triangle in Manhattan and is still on the board of the Ferro-Grumley Awards and the Rainbow Book Awards to further LBGT Literature. He has been an adjunct professor of literature at Antioch University, Los Angeles, and an advisory board member of that school’s Colors Youth counseling program, as well as of various LGBT libraries and centers around the country including The Quatrefoil Library in Minneapolis, and SAGE USA in New York. Picano now teaches a Writer’s Workshop at the West Hollywood Library and in 2017 that will expand with a separate Screen and Playwriting Writer’s Workshop. He has appeared as a reader, speaker, or panelist at the West Hollywood Book Fair, The Rainbow Book Fair in New York, The Los Angeles Times Book Festival, The Tennessee Williams Festival, Saint & Sinners Festival, and The South Carolina Book Festival as well as various Out-Rites and university writers readers conferences. In Canada he was the first and only non-native to join two Wilde About Sappho fund raising book tours. Picano blogs on topics pertaining to the LGBT community on the HuffingtonPost.com—Gay Voices and has reviewed at OutinPrint.com. Recent stories, essays, and reviews are up free to be read at www.felicepicano.net. More information can be found in Contemporary Authors, The Cambridge History of 20th Century American Literature and on Wikipedia.com.
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