Shinjiro Atae recently shared his identity as a gay man at an event in Tokyo with over 2,000 fans, making him one of the few public figures in Japanese society to openly speak about being gay. In his newest single “Into the Light,” he shares a glimpse into his own journey of self-acceptance. After 15 years with the hit J-pop group AAA (pronounced “triple A”), Atae decided to leave in 2020 to focus on his solo career. With his unwavering dedication to his supporters and an undeniable passion for music, the star is destined for a bright road ahead.
GEN V: After your success as a member of AAA, how has the transition into working on solo projects been for you?
SHINJIRO ATAE: Being part of AAA was a great experience. I really enjoyed performing with the other members. There are definitely more responsibilities now that I’ve been working on solo projects. There are many more things I must think about and things I have to do, but I feel like it has been very rewarding.
GEN V: You recently announced your identity as a gay man in front of a crowd. What was that like?
SA: Before I went up on stage, I was freaking out in the dressing room. I tried to keep my spirits up by blasting “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. It helped but I still felt the most nervous that I’ve ever felt in my life. I didn’t know how my fans would react to the news. However, when I saw my fans who have been supporting me for 18 years, I started to feel at ease. That being said, I still felt a sense of nervousness. As I was reciting my speech, I started to feel emotional on stage and couldn’t hold back my tears. At that moment, my fans started to cheer me on to help me get through the rest of the speech. Having the fans cheer me on in that moment was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
GEN V: You share a piece of your journey into self-acceptance in your new song “Into the Light.” Is there anything in your message that you hope will resonate with listeners?
SA: I want people to listen to this song and recognize that they are not the only person who has been struggling with something. I just want people to know that they are not alone. Also, I want to remind people that the dark moments in life aren’t forever. If you continue to have hope, there’s light on the other end.
GEN V: What are some upcoming projects that you are excited about?
SA: I plan on making some more music soon! I’d love to make an album and go on tour. Look out for more from me soon! Currently, I am in the process of filming a documentary about my life. It is being produced by Peter Farrelly and Fisher Stevens. It’s an amazing team and my close friends John-Eliot Jordan and Carlie Mantilla-Jordan are directing. I’m really excited to share my story and hope it will help others to feel less alone.
Photography Nina Menconi