During the photo shoot, I asked my photographer Chris to show me as the opposite to the Asian stereotype.

As a Japanese in Europe, I am categorized as a member of a minority. We are kind, respectful and poetic people who work hard and never complain. We are peaceful and safe strangers. In the gay community, I am regarded as a docile, cute, feminine and asexual creature.

This was a big surprise. Since I grew up in Tokyo, I had never felt I was categorized as Japanese or an Asian, because I was in the majority. I was just myself. However, living in Europe, I feel pressure to act “oriental” in the occidental culture context. 

“I like you but don’t like Asians because I prefer the muscular guys and Asians have small dicks.” (Thank you. FYI, I have a beautiful one.)“I would like to have a relationship with an Asian because you guys are spiritual.” (I am not spiritual contrary to your expectations.) “I am disappointed. I thought an Asian would be more submissive.” (I am disappointed. I thought you were less stupid.) “You are not Asian; you are “almost” European.” (Shouldn’t I be Asian?)

When I came to Brussels, a handsome Japanese guy kindly suggested to me that I get muscled because Asians over 30 were at the bottom of the pyramid if we were not muscled. I still appreciate what he said to me. It was, indeed, realistic advice. But I feel sad that he was forced to internalize this Asian hierarchy to find a comfortable area for himself.

I dare to say I am just a regular man. I am like everyone: I am a curious person and I like to meet new people on Grindr. I am proud of myself when I discover a good Spanish restaurant. I feel romantic (and a bit pretentious) with a glass of Moët et Chandon in front of me. I love to find a new style of fashion on Instagram. I masturbate when I get bored with Netflix. I feel happy when I understand a contemporary artwork in the Pompidou Centre. Rimming his ass, my penis becomes even harder when someone I love moans.

As you are proud of yourself, I am proud of how I am. 

I am like you.