Photo credits Getty Images
LETTER THE F ROM
EDITOR Have you ever wondered why people in the world can’t seem to get along? Do you wonder why society feels the need to separate people and seclude those who go against the norm? We do too. It’s time we set aside our differences and come together as one. Here at CoExist we want to share stories that are inspirational and inspire people to come together. We live in a world where we experience hate and different forms of prejudice opinions. This is a magazine that is supposed to give readers a break from that kind of toxic environment. So take a seat, get inspired and go change the world in a positive way. It’s time we stop making this subject something we talk about to making it something we actually act upon! If you like what you’re reading and want to apply for our monthly subscription, go onto our website (www.CoExist.com). If you have any suggestions or know a story that could inspire others, email us with a link to the story at (inspiring.stories@CoExist.com). Thank you for reading our magazine and we hope you move forward feeling inspired and ready to change the world!
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FINDING BALANCE: KODO NISHIMURA The story of Kodo Nishimura on how he became a monk as an openly gay man and pursuing his dream on becoming a makeup artist!
JO IS THE WAY TO GO! Jo march is running for Senate and she needs your help! It’s time that we are all equal!
TONI HARRIS: FIRST WOMAN TO PLAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL! Time to move over boys! It’s time women take the field and pad up!
FINDING BALANCE WITH
Photo taken by Dominic Phua
monk by day and a makeup artist by night who’s made up Miss Universe and celebrities, Kodo Nishimura wants to break Japan’s silence on LGBT+ issues with the power of his makeup brushes and his religion. “The first time I put on makeup, I was playing with my mum’s Chanel eyeshadow. I’d become a clown, but I didn’t want her to know I’d been playing with it, so I’d dab the surface flat again,” laughs 30-year-old Kodo Nishimura. An LGBT activist who has given a speech at United Nations Population Fund Headquarters, painted the faces of Miss Universe, and worked with the likes of pop stars and brands such as L’Oreal, he lives two lives: one as a well-known makeup artist and one as a Buddhist monk. “I’ve been through that stage when I’d felt worthless. As a monk and a makeup artist, I want to help LGBT+ people find it meaningful to be alive. They may be two different ways of helping people, but they both come from the same place – my heart,” he says. He talked Hive Life through his painful journey coming out in socially conservative Japan and explained how he plans to use his makeup skills to help gender minorities reconcile their identities in the country. Considering himself “gender-gifted,” Kodo grew up with a fluid view of gender. “My body is physically male, yet my mind is neither male or female. I can be both in many ways,” he wrote in his blog. However, as he grew older, his liberal views became his deepest fears. “I was afraid that if I shared my feelings, I’d be isolated,” he says of his life as a closeted teen living in a Buddhist monastery in Tokyo. “I couldn’t make any friends. I couldn’t trust anybody. I was worried that my parents would find out that I was interested in boys,” he remembers.
Photo credits CGTN
Photo credits Tokyo Voice
“I want people to know that being a monk isn’t just about living a strict life. It’s about being honest with yourself and doing what you think is right.”
- kodo nishimura
Kodo is not the only person to wrestle with and hide his gender identity in Japan. While the country has relatively liberal LGBT+ laws in comparison to many other Asian locales, being openly gay or transgender still remains largely taboo in a country where there’s a lack of systems or laws that provide protection against discrimination or harassment. “I was told I was a fag, a she-male, a hormonal corruption,” Kodo once wrote. In search of a safe space where he could be himself, he moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design when he was 18. It was an adventure that proved difficult. “When I went to the US, I felt inferior being an Asian and Japanese. I couldn’t find my beauty,” Kodo recalls. As a sensitive teenager in a foreign country, he sought solace in his childhood interest, and it was then his passion for beauty truly blossomed. “I’m interested in not only what’s on our skin, but what stays even after we shower. It’s the feeling of being someone else, being stronger. It’s the experience and the memory that stays in our brain. That’s the most magical part of makeup.” After his graduation, Kodo
forayed into the makeup industry in the US, but at 24, he returned to Japan to train as a Buddhist monk only to find himself caught in yet another struggle between his identity and his religion. “I didn’t want the impression of other monks being degraded because of me,” Kodo says of the conflict he felt at the time. It wasn’t until he sought guidance from his teacher that he realised he needn’t worry. “He said, ‘If being who you are and wearing makeup and jewels helps you deliver the message in Buddhism that everybody is equal, I don’t see that as a problem,’” Kodo recalls of what his Buddhist master told him. Today, this life-changing remark still rings loud in his ears, inspiring him to open up about his life’s journey as a way of amplifying the conversation about LGBT+ rights and speeding up Japan’s slow march toward equality. And it’s a story that’s resonated far beyond his homeland, garnering headlines from Vogue, The New York Style Magazine, Cosmopolitan and more. “When I was young, it was so hard for me to be ok with my sexuality, but now, almost every day, I read about LGBT
rights in the newspaper. There are books and there are TV shows,” says Kodo. As he sees it, while Japan may be lagging behind other countries on these issues, it is slowly becoming more progressive as new generations come into play. “Some schools now allow the mix and match of uniforms, where girls can choose trousers and a tie. Some femaleonly universities have started to accept trans women,” he explains. “Time is only going to move forward. Our generation is learning so LGBT issues are only going to get better. It’s only going to open more doors.” To spread his message, Kodo gives speeches – he recently gave one at Yale University – and holds makeup seminars every weekend for people of all sexual orientations. More than just typical classes, they serve as counselling sessions through which Kodo hopes to inspire people to accept who they are. “It might be hard to find people to understand you right now, but I think your sexuality exists for a good and meaningful reason. I hope you can hold on to this as your candle light, get to know yourself, and maybe someday you can help somebody else.”
- Christy C. (Hive Life) 7
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Photo credits Tokyo Voice
Photo credits Getty Images
WHY JO? Jo March is running for Senate! Not only does she understand the the injustice women face on a daily basis, she will fight for your rights. Jo is all about equality and believes anyone is capable of anything! It’s time we stop dividing and working against each other. It would be a lot easier if everyone just got along, accepted their differences and worked together to fight for something bigger than themselves. That thing is equality. Yes, that topic is super broad and may mean a lot of things to different people. For Jo, she wants to close the pay gap. She believes that there is no reason that men and women should be paid differently when they are doing the exact same job. Men are not above women and women don’t want to be above men. All women want is to be treated as an equal. We don’t need just women’s votes. We need everyone’s vote! Let her fight for you! If you know Jo, she is the way to go!
WHO DO WE NEED?
As for the audience, I feel our target is going to be everyone. Jo is running to be Senator so she will first need both men and women’s vote to get everyone on board to fight for equality. Jo is very good about getting her way. She is persistent and will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. I believe it would work in Jo’s favor if she talked one on one with other men and women, hear them out and find connections with all of them to find solutions. I want everyone to have an insight on who Jo is and what she is about. I want them to feel how passionate she is and let her personality radiate and inspire these people that enough is enough. Women deserve these rights as much as the men do. Meanwhile keep in mind that it’s not that they want to be better or beat men in life but, be considered as equals. For this campaign, they would make signs, starts peaceful rallies and start social media pages to get the word out. During Women’s Suffrage, women wore mostly white so they could give themselves more of a pure and innocent look. I want to take a modern twist with this by using white and some other colors. One of Jo’s talents is writing. I feel like she should use that in her campaign. Whether it’s writing to men and women to join the cause or writing to the public to get them to understand and earn their vote. Jo is praised many times for her writing. Her father believed it was always best when she wrote with full honesty and that she wrote in full truth. He believed people related more to her and it would become more popular that way. This could also help when it comes to making signs with powerful and honest messages. That will be the main goal for this whole campaign! She will need to be aggressive, passionate, honest and peaceful all at the same time. Jo is known for a bad temper but at this point, she should have a pretty good hold on how to control it. It could also be used
“JO IS WHAT EVERYONE
Photo taken by Jen Mussari
Photo Credit: Greenpeace USA
in her favor if she uses it in the right way. She needs both men and women on her side. Jo needs to find a way to stand out from all the other candidates. I believe her personality and beliefs would win it for her. Jo is what everyone needs! She is a great balance of both! The fact that she is a successful working woman can also help with her audience. It will show that she has drive. being the way she was raised and with the boys school she helps with, this will show her compassionate side for the cause. If all goes well, I feel like Jo will not have a problem winning this campaign.
Photo Credit: u/Noname_Maddox
a family. That being said, we as women shouldn’t strive to take over men and be better than them. It’s fine to be better in some cases but that should not be our goal. Men have their own struggles that they face as well. Stereotypes are the main cause to our problems in our day to day lives. We live in a very prejudice society. Men, they have to be the strong, emotionless, very masculine type of person where women are seen as the sensitive, maternal, only speak when spoken to kind of person. Don’t these just sound ridiculous? With me in senate, it stops here! This is only the tip of the iceberg of things I plan on trying to fix. Other things include equal rights to races, LGBTQ+, sex and the growing climate change. Let’s stop working against each other and learn to work along side each other. We are stronger together! With me in Senate, I see a brighter future for all of us. Please support me and my cause and go vote for me today!
Photo taken by Jen Mussari
Voting is power. In order to create change, it’s on us to do it! There are many ways you can make a difference no matter how big or small the cause may be. Violence or negativity will get us no where. Time is up on criticizing people on the differences we all may have. We as humanity will never find peace or will be able to coexist if we are constantly trying to take each other down. We have had too many years in the past that are full of hate and war. If you put me in office, I promise to do whatever I can to promote a brighter and more positive future. I’m a huge believer in equality. I feel like women, out of many groups, are ones who struggle to find equality in the world we live in. Being a woman myself and having 3 other sisters, I know first hand the problems we face. I want to fight for equal pay and equal job opportunities in the workforce. This isn’t the 1800’s and women can do more than just cook in a kitchen while raising
- JO MARCH
Toni has recently come forward about her dream to one day play in the NFL, but many are questioning whether a woman can play in the NFL. In February, the Seattle Seahawks tweeted out Toni’s intentions to play in the NFL after she received a college football scholarship as a skill position player. Toni said playing in the NFL had been her dream since she was 4 years-old while she watched her cousin play in the Detroit Police Athletic League. Toni accepted a scholarship to Central Methodist University in Detroit, which participates in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Toni spent the last two years playing football at East Los Angeles College in California. She said that her goal is to become the first female football player in the NFL. Toni is already gaining attention on a professional level from the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carrol, the Seattle Seahawks football coach, said that 20
he is looking forward to having Toni on the team in the future. Toni’s story is already a historic one. But it’s made even more impressive when one remembers that, only four years ago, Toni was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After going into remission a year later, Toni made it her goal to accomplish what she wanted in life. Her football coach at Central Methodist said that Toni knows how to conduct herself on a football field and has worked hard to earn her spot on the team. Eastside’s football team doesn’t have any female players, so we wanted to talk to students on campus and see their thoughts about a woman playing in the NFL. While students had conflicting thoughts, 65% said that they believe a woman like Toni are capable of playing football on a professional level. Eastside senior Nathaniel Nguyen isn’t completely convinced. “It would be unfair for women to play against men,” he says, but that
shouldn’t stop her from playing. “I think a woman could play in the NFL as a kicker.” Sophomore Jasmine Quiros would love to see Toni join the NFL. “I feel like having women play in the NFL would be a cool change,” she says. “It would inspire young girls who want to play professional football.” Toni says even if she doesn’t make it to the NFL, she hopes her big goals will inspire young girls to pursue their dreams of playing pro. “I believe I’m going to be the first female NFL player,” Toni says. “But if it just so happens that I’m not, I want to make sure there’s a way paved for the next little girl that can get there.”
BY JOHN FLORIO AND OUISIE SHAPIRO
Photo credits Toyota
A TOUCHDOWN FOR WOMEN