Nov 16, 2013

Summer 1986: Cruising in Japan

I'm a sucker for ministers, priests, rabbis, Greek Orthodox monks, Mormon missionary -- anyone clerical.  So when I started attending All Saints MCC (a gay church) in the fall of 1985, I immediately latched onto ministerial student Alan.  He wasn't really my type -- too tall, too hairy, too chunky.  But he had two redeeming characteristics:

1. He used to be a gay porn actor, and he still met the size requirements for the job.
2. He was a ministerial student.

We only dated for about a month or so, until the incident with the Norwegian hustler.  But we stayed friends, and eventually become roommates.  In March he suddenly announced that he was leaving the MCC: God had called him to start his own gay Pentecostal church.

In Japan.

Ok, there were 100,000,000 people in Japan, 3% Christian, maybe 1% of that Pentecostal, and 10% of that gay.  A target market of 3,000 people.

"Oh, no, there will be a massive revival.  Thousands of Japanese gay men and lesbians will be won to the Lord.  In a few years, there will be gay Pentecostal churches all over Japan."

He invited me to come along and become his co-minister.  I should have remembered moving to Omaha with Fred.  But...

Alan quickly landed a job teaching at an English language school in Osaka, and moved in April 1986, just as the new semester was beginning.   I applied for and received a scholarship to spend the summer at Kansai University.  On May 27th, I flew to Australia to visit a friend, and then joined Alan in Japan.

He lived on a very noisy, crowded street in the Kita Ward of Osaka, in a tiny apartment -- about 216 square feet, the size of an average bedroom in the U.S.

Every day between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm, Alan met with his students -- 8 to 10 per hour, talking about current events and writing essays.  I went to Gold's Gym, then to my class in Japanese Literature or to the Joto Library to study Japanese.

After dinner we cruised. I got the gay bars, restaurants, and discos, and Alan got the bath houses, bookstores, movie theaters, and Sakuranomiya Park. We were ostensibly looking for new converts for Alan's Gay Pentecostal Church, but Alan seems to have been mostly cruising.  Every night he brought a new potential convert back to our apartment: students, salary men, tourists.  For some reason, Asian men found him infinitely attractive (later, when we were roommates, he used this remarkable ability to steal my dates).

But none of the guys he brought him converted.

The Gay Pentecostal Church -- Kamisama no kyokai gei -- met every Sunday morning at 10:30 for Sunday school and 11:30 for the morning service.  With Alan and me, and sometimes whoever stayed over last night.

No one else.

We put up fliers in gay bars, restaurants, discos.  Alan announced the church at a meeting of Kansai Pride.

No one came.

In July we went to a Hadaka Matsuri, a Naked Man Festival.  It was the highpoint of the trip. Unfortunately, we missed the Penis Festival of Kawasaki.

At the end of July, when Alan's school closed for summer break, we returned to Los Angeles.  I knew he wasn't going to go back to Japan, and sure enough, in August he returned to his old job as a middle-school social studies teacher.  But soon he was talking about starting a gay Pentecostal church in Thailand.

"There will be a massive revival.  Thousands of Thai gay men and lesbians will be won to the Lord.  In a few years, there were be gay Pentecostal churches all over Thailand.  You should come...."

I said no to that one.

See also: Manga!