Japanese-American singer Utada Hikaru, 38, has come out as non-binary.
In a June 25 IG Live session, Utada, who now uses the pronouns they/them, shared, “You know, it’s the month of June, and I’m non-binary. So, Happy Pride Month!” Utada is one of Japan's best-selling artistes and is best known for their 1999 song 'First Love'.
A week before the live stream, Utada shared on IG that they are “sick of being asked if I’m ‘Miss or Missus’ or ‘choosing between Miss/Mrs/Ms’ for every day things.”'
They added, “It makes me uncomfortable to be identified so markedly by my marital status or sex, and I don’t relate to any of those prefixes. Every time, I feel like I’m forced to misrepresent myself. I long for an alternative option, one that anybody of any gender or social standing could use.”
Utada then shared that they "discovered" the prefix Mx., and hopes that the neutral prefix is “awesome” and hopes that “it becomes more widely used”.
The singer has hinted about being part of the LGBT+ community for years. In 2016, a netizen asked if Utada's song 'Tomodachi', which was about a gay person falling in love with a straight friend, was “a bit of a stereotype of gay people”. Utada's reply? “What makes you think I’m ‘straight’?”
What makes you think I'm "straight"? 😛— 宇多田ヒカル (@utadahikaru) September 22, 2016
Utada’s coming out has started a conversation about gender identity in Japan, with many news shows dedicating segments to explain to viewers what non-binary means.
Netizens all over the world have applauded Utada's bravery and the singer's coming out as non-binary has been hailed as a huge step forward for the LGBT+ community in Japan, which is ranked second to last in gay and transgender rights among the 38 nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Photos: Utada Hikaru's Instagram