Japan 2016/17 | school program

I visited Japan again two years after my exchange. During this visit I also met for lunch with my former chapter president who has since become a very dear friend of mine. We discussed the current students in her chapter and the discussion came to identity and learning about oneself. She told me that through my application and photos she thought I might be queer or trans or figuring my identity out. She said that she never felt like she needed to address it in any way though because the volunteers said “Yona is just Yona” and they loved me for who I was.

Sexuality was never something I discussed with my host family and I never really felt like I needed to have a coming-out moment. We were watching the male figure-skating short program on TV one night (Japan is incredibly competitive and the top two contestants were Japanese at the time) and my host mother remarked that she thought one of them was really pretty and cute. I told them that I thought the other one was a lot more handsome and that was that. There was never any tension or worry on my part.

They visited Austria a few months ago and although they didn't meet my boyfriend, they have seen him on Facebook and Instagram and never commented on it being strange or odd. The room I used during my exchange still has my name on the door and I have a standing invitation to come back any time (with or without a partner) and I am so happy to have such a loving host family.

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