Dru Robertson

Russ VeillardOccupation:
"Sponsorship Evangelist" Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Time in Japan:
Eight years

What do you do here?
As a sponsorship evangelist, my main mission is to attract money for the film festival, because it is run on an all-volunteer basis and we' been keeping it going for seven years. So that's the main thing. To get as much money as possible to cover all the costs of renting and shipping the films over and renting Spiral Hall, which is very expensive. And the other thing we hope to achieve by attracting sponsors is to decrease homophobia. A lot of companies might avoid us because they don't want their logo attached to the words "lesbian and gay film festival". But if they see other people doing it, it kind of decreases the fear, so it's a two-pronged approach.

Where are you from?
I'm from New York, then I lived in San Francisco for ten years.

What brought you to Japan?
It was kind of wanderlust at first, now it's just lust.

Are you planning to stay?
Yeah, at least for another five or ten years. I'm really enjoying my life here.

Tell us about your commute to work.
It depends on which job I'm doing. During the week I hire myself out as a communications specialist. I have a contract with a computer company and basically they're doing business with a couple of Silicon Valley companies in California. Because I don't start work until the afternoon, the commute isn't too traumatic.

What do you like about Japan most?
What keeps me here is my involvement in this festival, and also the fact that I'm in love with a Japanese woman. It has its ups and downs, but that keeps me here. I also love the fact that we're really branching out and touching new ground, that we're the pioneers of queer visibility in Japan, so that for me is just an incredible experience. In San Francisco it's so established it's almost on the corporate level, but here if I approach Maybelline for cosmetics for our drag queens, I'm the first one doing that. And that's a wonderful experience. And then I'm contributing to this very brave community of Japanese lesbians and gays, helping them to do something adventurous. I love it.

What do you dislike about Japan most?
A lot of things that I hated at first, I've kind of gotten used to. But what I really despise is this categorization of "women do this and men do that", the constant segregation of the sexes.

Do you organize your CDs alphabetically?
I'm a Virgo, so yes, of course I do.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen or experienced in Japan?
Every now and then I see this kind of foreigner and I look at them and think, "My God, they've been here too long. They've never adjusted, they're going mad", and this one guy was obviously in that category. He was holding up a Japan Times and he had cut out eye-holes in the paper and was looking at people through it. He said to me "You're wondering what I'm doing, right? Well, I hate these Japanese people, they're always making believe that they're not looking at me and I know they are. So I'm doing this so I can catch them staring". Time to get off the train.

If you could take one thing back from Japan to your native country, what would it be?
I would put onigiri in all the 7-Elevens in America. I can't tell you how disappointing it is to go back to America. It's like "What do you mean, you don't have onigiri? This is a 7-Eleven, right?"

Do you have a favorite place to eat or drink in Tokyo?
I really like Las Chicas if I'm feeling like a gaijin atmosphere. As far as enjoying a really beautiful Japanese dinner there's a wonderful place in Kichijoji that overlooks Inokashira park, called the Golden Monkey.

Where would you like to be when the big one hits?
Oh my God. I think about this at least once a day. I'm always imagining where I don't want to be. I wonder, you know, if my gym would be safe. The Tipness where I work out.

You have to spend the rest of your life trapped on the Yamanote line. You're allowed to take one book, one CD and one luxury item. What would they be?
The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd. It's the story of a Scottish woman who comes to Japan in the early part of the century and is supposed to get married to this guy but starts having an affair with a Japanese count. Then it all goes wrong, she has a mixed-race baby and she's abandoned by everybody. As for the CD, it'd have to be The Beatles' Greatest Hits, and the luxury would be Kaoru, the woman I'm in love with.

The Seventh International Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival takes place at Aoyama Spiral on May 8-10 and May 15-17. For booking details, see the advertisement on page 4.

Dru Robertson spoke to Nigel Kendall.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? E-mail us at

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