'At 30, I Realized I Had No Gender' - A Journey of Self-discovery

"At 30, I Realized I Had No Gender" by Shou Arai.

Shou Arai depicts his life of self-discovery in his manga memoir, "At 30, I Realized I Had No Gender."

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to manga and books in general?

Because I have a mind that rebels against the idea that "the majority is the righteous one, so the minority should put up with it and conform to the majority." (However, I am also aware that there are various categories of minorities that I do not yet fully understand and therefore do not fully express at this point.)

What does the term Reading Rainbow mean to you?

It is very important, and I hope that my work can be part of a book that helps to deepen LGBTQ understanding. After all, compared to serious novels and books, an entertaining manga is much easier to read, isn't it?

Tell us a little more about the manga and why you decided to create it.

The neutral and LGBTQ characters in works of fiction are often young people. But the reality is that everyone ages, no matter who they are. Sexual minorities also age like everyone else, including the majority groups. Many of the issues the minorities face after they age are the exact same issues that anyone else would face.

I wrote this work to express that fact to the world.

Was there any initial reluctance to tell such a personal story? What were the challenges you faced creating this work?

I have always written only personal stories (essay comics), so I have no particular resistance. The only difficulty I have is that I wonder how much of my aging self I should reflect in my self-portraits.

How do you feel that your story can inspire other people?

Stories about love and marriage often tend to depict the romantic drama of two people who love each other when they meet or the years that follow. However, there are many people in the world who are not comfortable with romantic love stories and serious developments. I have tried to write a story that can easily reach the hearts of those people as well.

Japan is seen as a very progressive country. What do you see as some key differences between being an LGBTQ person in Japan versus in the West, or the United States specifically? Do you feel like many Japanese get their understanding of LGBTQ culture from entertainment media? 

I believe that "manga" is an inseparable source of information for Japanese people. (Even before the concept of LGBTQ was known in Japan, there were countless works that dealt with homosexuality in love stories.)

In Japan today, there are many more people who can draw essay manga than there were when I started writing in the 20th century. Nowadays, there are many LGBTQ people who draw their feelings in manga by themselves and frequently publish their work on social networking sites.

The advent of SNS was a major turning point for Japanese people, allowing them to have the notion that LGBTQ people really exist. People who had only seen LGBTQ characters in manga and video games could now feel closer to them by listening to the voices of "someone out there," peeking into their daily lives, and empathizing with their blurbs.

Are you working on a new project currently?

I am thinking I want to try my hand at creating a love story between a man and a woman, and am currently working on the concept.

I will continue to draw essay manga with myself as the main character. Even after I become an old man and reach the end of my life, I would like to draw as much as I can while spreading the message to the world: “There are people who have lived their whole lives with this kind of gender identity.”


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



Got a juicy lead or story idea? Let us know!



Out South Florida

Hello from OutSFL! We hope you'll consider donating to us. Starting a business can be a scary prospect, but with your support so far, we've had tremendous success. Thank you!

donate button