The last fear that gay Buddhist monk and professional makeup artist Kodo Nishimura had regarding his sexual identity was overcome when his teacher told him that the most important message of Buddhism is that “salvation is equal for everyone.”
Combining the austerity of monastic life with the exuberance of makeup, heels and princess costumes was possible, because in Japan many Buddhist monks exercise another profession apart from their religious dedication, and they dress differently from Tibetans. “Your career as a make-up artist and your bright clothes do not prevent you from helping others and teaching them that we are all equal. You must have confidence in your vocation as a monk,” says Nishimura who told her at the time her tutor.
Today, Nishimura is a well-known makeup artist to world beauty queens, and at the same time he lectures lectures on religion and homosexuality. “The role of religion is not to limit people’s potential, but to help them go beyond their limits,” explains the Buddhist monk in fluent English sprinkled with words in Spanish, a language he learned on repeated trips to Spain and thanks to the frequent conversations he has with what he defines as his best friend, a man from Barcelona named Sergio who, like him, is 31 years old. In Spanish, he uses the terms “maricón” and “reignona” to explain how when listening to their Japanese equivalents he felt a strong inferiority complex in his adolescence.
At the age of 18, he went to study art in the United States and realized the respect that successful professionals who had come out of the closet inspired there. That cheered him up, but then he became anxious about the differences in their facial features. “My eyes seemed very small to me,” she says, before describing the crowning of the Japanese Riyo Mori as Miss Universe in 2007 as a milestone in her life.
Studying Mori’s face, she noticed that the shadow and liner widened her eyes and intensified the look. She began experimenting with her face and enrolled in the Make-up Designory, a Los Angeles school. She emailed a Japanese make-up artist from the miss universe and volunteered as an assistant. It was accepted. Five years he was making merits until he made his place in the circuit of world reigns.
His father and mother are also monks, and Nishimura grew up in a central Tokyo temple belonging to the Jōdo sect, one of the most widely practiced variations of Buddhism in Japan, founded in the 12th century. On maternal recommendation, she studied Buddhism. Today, she lives in the family temple and her routine includes teaching classes in her religion, which she considers an inclusive creed, and alternates them with makeup sessions for models for magazine covers.
He has just published a book whose title in Spanish equates to “Free and honest. Live like the person I want to be”, in which he includes autobiographical stories and questions the validity in current life of some traditional values. He has been invited to lecture at Yale University, at the United Nations in New York and appears on the program Queer eye from Netflix as spiritual advisor to a boy distressed by sex discrimination.
Her affinity with everything Hispanic is confirmed by a collection of elegant bullfighter-style jackets, dozens of Spanish-speaking followers on Instagram and an exceptional admiration for Ángela Ponce, the transsexual woman who represented Spain in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant, whom she had opportunity to make up in Bangkok (Thailand). “I am very proud to have been able to tell her that I too would have liked to be Miss Universe and that she was the realization of my dreams.”