Last night, I wanted to tell a Japanese person that a famous singer was homosexual. And, I wanted to say it in a respectful way. The only words I knew were オカマ and ホモ. Both make me cringe. It sounds like derogatory / harsh slang???

Now, she didn't think オカマ sounded bad, but... she is from Shikoku, Japan's analog to Alabama? In Tokyo, オカマ is not acceptable, right?

Anyway, in a daily conversation with educated adults, what is a way to say "homosexual" that is no different in connotation than saying someone is "tall", "smart", "creative", etc?

btw: We were talking about Queen's performance for LIVE AID 30 years ago this week in Wembley Stadium. Every critic agrees that was the best live performance, ever. It's on youtube to see.

2 Answers 2


I think the most neutral term for a third-person is 同性愛者{どうせいあいしゃ}.

If you're looking for a little less formal-sounding word ゲイ or ホモセクシュアル will also convey the idea.


  • Using 四字熟語 sounds a little stilted for describing a human being in a daily conversation. 同性愛者 sounds to me like a word you'd use in an academic article. (Of course, if you are native speaker then my feeling about 同性愛者 is null and void.) Jul 22, 2016 at 0:47
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    同性愛者 isn't really a 四字熟語, although I understand your point. It's a combination of 同性愛 (homosexuality) and 者 (person). It's used in newspaper articles and on the news. It's not strictly academic, just neutral and specific.
    – sazarando
    Jul 22, 2016 at 1:02
  • I guess what I mean is saying 4 音読み sounds in a row to describe a person in daily conversation sounds stiff. Kind of like rather than describing his character, you are assigning a strict definition. I thought there be a softer sounding word. Jul 22, 2016 at 1:09
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    I think「同性愛者」doesn't sound any stiffer than "homosexual" in this context. They are essentially equivalent.
    – sazarando
    Jul 22, 2016 at 1:13
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    I've done a lot of reading about LGBT issues in japan, and I agree with sazarando that the tone of 同性愛者 and "homosexual" are equal. Most gay people would call themselves "gay" before "homosexual" and I think the same is for Japan. I've seen ゲイand ホモ used more often than 同性愛(者) in articles and interview videos on youtube.
    – user11589
    Jul 22, 2016 at 1:42

They use ニューハーフ (new-half) here all the time for men that act like women, not sure if it works the other way around. I also hear ゲイの人 a lot.

  • Nope. ニューハーフ (new-half) is used almost exclusively for transsexuals and those who have had or will have a sex change operation. Jul 22, 2016 at 6:18

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