TIME magazine has Japanese monk, makeup artist, and LGBTQ activist Kodo Nishimura on its 2021 list of Next Generation Leaders. Though both of his parents are Buddhist clergy, Nishimura was not interested in following in their footsteps when he moved to New York City to study at Parsons School of Design. In college, he learned to embrace both his LGBTQ identity and his Buddhist roots. At the age of 24, Nishimura began splitting his time between makeup-artist work in America and monastic training in Japan. At 32, the monk, who once again resides at his family’s temple, now boasts such celebrity clients as actress Christina Milian and the musical duo Chloe x Halle. An outspoken LGBTQ activist challenging discriminatory legislation in Japan, Nishimura feels that simply expressing his most authentic self is also part of engendering change. He told Tricycle in a 2017 interview, “By doing what I love, I want to inspire people to know that they can be themselves.”

Each Friday, Buddha Buzz looks back at the events of that week in the Buddhist world. Read the full Buddha Buzz article here.

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