Words by: Sebastian Morgan
Ask any queer traveler where in Asia they would go for an LGBTQ-friendly vacation and what would you expect them to say? Bangkok? Tel Aviv? Tokyo? The region’s historically conservative attitudes towards gender and sexuality have meant that, until recently, there’s been relatively few destinations to choose from. This is especially true if you’re looking to hit up a pride parade: China doesn’t allow them, Singapore censors them, and in South Korea, they’re often met with intimidating counter protests. That being said, the news isn’t all bleak. Perceptions of queer identity in Asia are shifting, and as they do, a more visible pride culture is taking shape.
Why Taiwan Pride is so big in Asia?
1. Openness to cultural diversity
Taiwan Pride is one of the rising stars of this movement. Over the past few years, it has drawn bigger crowds than any other LGBTQ event in East Asia, and comes second only to Tel Aviv if you include the rest of the continent. The event is wildly popular with pink tourists, and is setting an example for Taiwan’s more conservative nextdoor neighbors. Let’s not forget that if you wind back the clock, Taiwan was closed-minded, authoritarian, and particularly heavy handed on the gays. Today, activists in their sixties are applauded in front of the same government buildings where they were once sentenced to jail time. If that doesn’t show the world how things can get better, we don’t know what does.
2. Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in a historic first for Asia
So, if your interested in joining the Taiwan Pride parade, then your timing is perfect. We’re not sure if you heard, but earlier this year, Taiwan struck one of the biggest victories for LGBTQ rights in Asia, with the passing of the continent’s first ever same-sex marriage law. That makes this year’s Taiwan Pride celebrations perhaps the most meaningful in its seventeen-year history, if not in the history of prides across the entire region.
Why you should participate in Taiwan Pride 2019
1.To support and celebrate the local LGBTQ community
This year’s theme – Together, Make Taiwan Better – says a lot about the journey Taiwan has been on to make this landmark achievement. Last year, anti-LGBTQ groups managed to push through a non-binding same-sex marriage referendum in the hope that it would keep marriages heterosexual. Despite a long, damaging campaign and ultimate vote in the referrendum’s favor, efforts to secure marriage rights were doubled by supporters both inside and outside of the LGBTQ community – and together – they managed to keep the final government decision on the right side of history.
2. To march in Taiwan’s biggest-ever pride parade
Joining Taiwan Pride in 2019 is a unique opportunity to experience queer history in the making. To make the most of that opportunity, you’re going to want to march in the Taipei pride parade, which will take place on Saturday 26. A medley of protest, celebration, and creative expression, this year’s crowds are expected to exceed the 130,000 who marched last year.
The procession will be longer than previous years, starting at Taipei City Hall Plaza, just around the corner from the iconic Taipei 101. From there, it’ll pass many other well-known landmarks before concluding with a bang, a rally, and an enormous party on Ketagalan Boulevard, outside the Presidential Office Building.
3. To meet the father of Taiwan’s LGBTQ rights movement
Countless social activist groups and queer collectives are expected to take part and there’ll be party floats by the likes of Rainbow Queer. Remember to keep at least one eye on the sky while you’re marching though – you don’t want to miss Chi Chia-wei. The father of Taiwan’s LGBTQ rights movement who also began the push for marriage equality all the way back in 2013 will almost certainly be attending. If the past several years are anything to go by, he’ll be standing on a rooftop or bridge above the parade route, clad head to toe in full rainbow gear.
4. For the after parties
Beyond the parade there’s still plenty going on throughout the month of October. Outside of events by the official organizers, there’s literally hundreds of others to choose from. The after parties by Werk and LEZS are a must, and if that’s not enough, there’s also indie film screenings, performances by Ru Paul’s Drag Race alumni, and Rocky Horror picture shows – hell, you could even have a Taiwanese rabbit god find you a partner at a local taoist temple. (Read also: Pursue Your Happiness: How You Can Pay Respects to Yue Lao, the God of Marriage and Love)
Celebrate Taiwan Pride with MyTaiwanTour
To make the most of this kaleidoscope of October celebrations, consider taking a tailored LBGTQ tour of the city. MyTaiwanTour offers satellite experiences that couple Taiwan Pride with a chance to really get acquainted with the real queer Taiwan. And no, that’s not limited to dancing with local drag royalty (although it certainly doesn’t exclude it either!) Dip into historical hot springs, get lost on arty rambles, and throw yourself mouth first into locally legendary night markets. When you’re joining the Taiwan’s 2019 celebrations, no excess should be too great. After all, it isn’t any old pride when you’re celebrating a first for same-sex marriage and a brighter, more equal future for an entire continent.