Hello, little magical nugget. I know you clicked on the title because it had Bishoujo and Senshi written on it. If you know where those two words came from, then let’s be honest, you’re a Moonie aren’t you?
Sailor Moon has been one of the most iconic series to be published in the shoujo scene. Dating back to 1992, Sailor Moon has not only inspired the girls from the previous era, it has continued to give an empowering impact to the new generation and exceeded the expectations of its author, Naoko Takeuchi. The series’ popularity grew so much that besides releasing numerous merchandise collections, it even had television and theater adaptations; being a staple in Japan’s stage play roster every season. To those of you who are new to the title, Sailor Moon is a Japanese magical girl manga that talks about a young heroine named Usagi Tsukino, who has the ability to transform into a powerful superhero named Sailor Moon. Along with the help of her friends, she is tasked to stop the evils that threaten mankind and to ultimately save the earth from complete annihilation.
Now putting that aside, although the series depicted an unrealistic type of romance between Usagi and Mamoru, we’re not actually here to talk about them. That’s right, the couple that we’re going to be focusing on are these two:
Haruka and Michiru, popularly known as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune respectively, immediately rose to fame because they were one of the early representations of LGBTQ+ couples introduced into the media. As you know, the 90s was still a period where our community was conservative when it concerned same-sex relationships and being anything but heterosexual. Did they receive criticism? Of course, they did. Their relationship was deemed controversial to some countries which led studios to change their status into “cousins” despite their original dialogues hinting romantic intimacy. However, Naoko Takeuchi addressed this concern and firmly said that Haruka and Michiru were in fact a couple and she specifically designed them to compliment each other (Naoko the real MVP).
So what exactly is the hype between these two? Well, besides both of them being insanely attractive, Haruka and Michiru is a prime example of what a healthy and loving relationship should be. In addition, both of them set themselves as good examples for young girls to follow as both of them have showcased plenty of positive traits such as: confidence, having compassion, being responsible, and being independent, just to name a few. I first came in contact with Sailor Moon during my elementary years, and only went full Moonie when I reached high school. It was during this age that majority of us would be in the process of discovering ourselves and figuring out our identities as individuals. Personally, I had always been a fan of shoujo and was that one fangirl who enjoyed sappy romance stories between a heroine and a handsome leading man. It was because of this I had always assumed that I was fully into males and nothing was going to stop me from having my own fairy tale romance with my prince (Ew LOL). This mindset was challenged when I started watching Sailor Moon more intently, noticing small hints and gestures that Haruka and Michiru were doing throughout the series. First of all, I always found Michiru to be absolutely beautiful and until now, she remains to be a character I aspire to be. I immediately knew I wanted to be like her because she was my ideal self, cool, calm, and collected, she emitted a grace and elegance that stood out among the other characters. Second, I found Haruka beautiful too, but I noticed that my attraction didn’t feel like simple admiration. Often times I found myself describing Haruka as “handsome” instead of “beautiful”, and preferred to associate her with male adjectives. Haruka was for a fact, one of the only masculine fighters amongst the senshis (save for the Starlights that appeared later on). She carried this persona even as a civilian and clearly leaned more towards “manly” interests in comparison to Michiru. I soon began to notice that I felt the same “kilig” feeling I felt from male leads whenever I saw Haruka. The way she treated Michiru, how she expressed her love for her, and most especially how she was so protective and fiercely loyal in the relationship. It came to the point I once said, “Wow. I wished I could have someone like Haruka. I wouldn’t mind dating someone like her.”
Being raised in a typical conservative catholic household where you were trained to believe that women could only get married to a man, you best believe I was feeling confused and most especially afraid because I was attracted to another woman; and a fictional one at that. But here’s the thing, I definitely knew it wasn’t a simple crush anymore because it came to the point I was thinking of dating someone like Haruka. I was considering the possibility of being in a relationship with another woman and I was completely fine with it. Of course, during that age I was scared to wits end because I felt like I was not normal since I was already conditioned to have that “man for woman” mindset. Soon enough, I began comparing Haruka’s relationship with other heterosexual couples, and began to see the difference on how a woman handles the relationship in comparison to males. This made matters worse for me since I legitimately found Haruka’s ways of romance as attractive. Which again, wasn’t supposed to be my mindset for the situation.
I began to question myself, asking things like “Do I really like girls?” or saying “She’s fictional. I’m still straight.” This went on for a little until I met one of my good friends who admitted he was bisexual; and the funny thing about it was, I helped him make that discovery. In it’s own little way, knowing this fact was comforting and it gave me a bit more confidence to fully explore myself and who I was. You know that small comfort you get from knowing you’re not alone? Yeah, it’s that feeling. In case you’re unsure what “Bisexual” means, here’s a handy definition from the Dictionary.
“Sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.”
Bisexuality is one out of many orientations found under the rainbow umbrella. There is a misconception that most people make which is saying Bisexual people are “cheaters” or they’re “selfish” because of them being comfortable dating both genders. Just to clarify, we do not date both genders at the same time nor do we cheat on our partners just because we think the other gender is attractive. Of course this is in a monogamous perspective, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you prefer otherwise. It depends on personal preference right? And your preferences are always valid, no matter what they may be so as long there is always mutual consent with all parties involved. Each to their own after all.
Where does all this lead to? So, I figured out I was Bi, nice, what now? Well first and foremost, I’ve never felt more free and more accepting of myself. An acknowledgement as small as that can often times mean the world to other people and coming to terms with who you are as a human being is liberating in its own right. I truly believe that love is what it is, an emotion that holds no judgement to whoever you find yourself loving. There is no gender, color, race, size, none of that. It is what it is and no amount of religious and moral debate will change the fact that it is an expression of fondness and passionate feelings towards another individual. No one has the right to look down on you for loving nor does anyone have the right to tell you who you can and cannot love. In the entirety of Sailor Moon, we never saw any of the other characters being condescending towards the relationship between Haruka and Michiru. Instead they were supportive and even envied their relationship, often saying they wished they could be a couple like them. What’s there to highlight is that Haruka and Michiru’s relationship wasn’t brought out as a big deal, it was treated as a normal occurrence, nothing out of the ordinary. You falling in love is normal and you know what others fail to realize? You don’t fall in love with a gender, you fall in love with a human being. That’s something our world has yet to fully learn. This is a free world after all and we are free to choose how we’re going to express ourselves as individuals. At the end of the day, all of us are eventually going back to Mother Earth and we’ll become nutrients for the plants, that’s the tea. So instead of spending your time telling others why their love is invalid, why not show yourself some love and learn to be kind, unconditionally.
To those of you who are at the stage of questioning or you’re still unsure what your preferences are, don’t stress over it darling. You can spend your entire lifetime enjoying your self-discovery because what matters is that you are happy with yourself and have a confidence befitting your uniqueness. I know, it will get a little hard and messy especially if you encounter people who aren’t so forgiving when it comes to hateful commentary. The best tip I can offer is never forget to remind yourself that no matter what other people say, this is your life to live and not theirs. This is your experience. This is your story to make. You can take into consideration the advise and whatnots, but your decisions are your own and no one can take that away from you. Just don’t forget to be responsible haha! After becoming fully transparent of my sexuality, I actually felt like I’ve become more open-minded and less judgmental towards others. I got more in touch with humanity and became much more empathetic because I know first-hand what it feels to be rejected just by being myself. It’s funny how a little bit of rejection makes you more compassionate towards others afterward. Maybe because we unconsciously have that “I feel you bro” reaction when it comes to similar experiences.
For those who already found themselves, congratulations! I’m happy for you and you’re pretty much ready to kick some ass in the human world. Use your confidence to inspire those who are still discovering and be a voice to those who have lost theirs. Let’s try to build a world though imperfect, it’s the kind where we can share a smile and wish each other well. Not part of the rainbow club? You can always choose to be an ally and support your friends and family who are. Having that support from people that mean the most to them greatly helps in building a strong foundation for themselves. Even if the whole world is against us, sometimes a word of encouragement from a loved one makes us believe we can conquer the universe. That’s a pro tip advise, don’t forget!
All else fails, look up Haruka and Michiru for some good vibes during your uncertain days. Actually, other LGBTQ+ fictional characters in general. You can learn a thing or two from them despite them not being real people. If that doesn’t inspire you to be true to yourself, I don’t know what else will.
Love and light, Moonies.
Haruka cosplayed by Rui
Featured Image was shot by Erving Go