Japanese singer Shinjiro Atae is opening up about his sexuality.
On July 26, the J-pop star announced that he is gay while giving an emotional speech at a fan event in Tokyo.
"I respect you and believe you deserve to hear this directly from me," he told the audience of about 2,000, reading from a letter, according to The New York Times. "For years, I struggled to accept a part of myself. But now, after all I have been through, I finally have the courage to open up to you about something. I am a gay man."
The 34-year-old added, "I don't want people to struggle like me."
Atae said moving from Japan—where same-sex marriage is illegal—to Los Angeles seven years ago was a big change. "Everyone was so open," said the pop star of his experience in California. "People would talk about their vulnerabilities. In Japan, people think it's best not to talk about those things."
Although Atae has not performed onstage in years amid his pop group AAA's 2021 hiatus, several of his former band mates, including Misako Uno, were in the audience at the fan event, according to The New York Times.
Atae's two siblings and his mom Suzuko were also in the crowd—but he had told his mom about his sexuality before going public.
"I was super surprised, and I had never imagined it," she told the newspaper, adding that she is "200 percent supportive" of her son.
At the show, the singer previewed his new song and music video "Into The Light," with a Portion of the proceeds of the track set to be donated to Pride House Tokyo, Japan's first permanent LGBTQ+ Center, and the ReBit organization, which benefits LGBTQ+ youth.
After the event, Atae shared a message to his fans on his Instagram, saying, "Today was a very special day for me."
"It has taken me a long time to be able to say I am gay. I could not even say it to myself," he wrote. "However, I've come to realize it is better, both for me, and for the people I care about, including my fans, to live life authentically than to live a life never accepting who I truly am. I hope people who are struggling with the same feeling will find courage and know they are not alone."
Atae said he held the fan event "because I wanted to tell as many of you as possible directly." He continued, "When I think of my work in the entertainment industry and the many things for which I am grateful, it is my relationship with my fans that first comes to mind. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for standing beside me over the years. I'd also like to thank my family, friends, staff members and my fellow AAA members for providing me their full support throughout this process."