10th Taiwan Pride Parade: the Long March to Social Equality

Taiwan Pride is essentially a march for social justice and more recently marriage equality. This year Jay Lin has spearheaded the production of three videos to promote awareness of the rights of Taiwanese gays and lesbians. On the eve of Taiwan’s 10th Pride Parade, he talks about his motivation for the 3-part project and what it means to the quest for family acceptance and social recognition.

By Stuart Hill

SH: Why did you start the video project and what do you aim to achieve by it?

JL: It is the 10th year of Taiwan Pride and I wanted to give something back to the community with the resources that I have, which stems from the film and TV community. So I gathered up my friends and decided to create 3 films, shot by 3 different directors, using different teams (with some overlap such as the art director) but essentially sharing the gay experience to the broader community.

SH: With a name like “Be Yourself” the message is pretty clear. Why do you think it needed to be said, and why now?

JL:  In the video, we showcase 5 people in their daily lives.  If it weren’t for the “gay” signs and logos that they are wearing — i.e. pink flag pin, rainbow socks, rainbow bag, etc — then no one would know that they are gay.  That is what we are trying to convey, that everyone is a contributing member to society because we ALL work, live and play in this society. Gays should not hesitate to “be happy” and “be counted” and we [the video producers] want gay people to have pride and a sense of belonging.

SH: Love all the Same, Same Kind of Love is a more explicit and perhaps controversial topic that deals with same-sex relationships. What do you hope this video to achieve?

JL: We want people watching the video to be a bit surprised at the end, that the woman actually has a girlfriend, and that the guy has a boyfriend so as to debunk common stereotypes. We inserted a lot of different types of people in love or in relationships, shot in the park, in the street, and interviews with people. This is to highlight that we are “all the same in love”.  No matter you are a guy or girl, as long as we find the comfort we need, then love is the same.

SH: How do you view the gay and lesbian community in Taiwan compared to similar communities overseas?

JL: A lot of political awareness needs to be established, and there is still a long ways to go. A lot of Chinese people are about harmony and not ruffling feathers.  But there is a way of ruffling feathers without causing a revolution. Perhaps this is what we are trying to do with these videos. To awaken the sense of belonging first and then hope that people will see that they too have a voice and they can exercise it just like we did, via words, pictures and videos, and in the future maybe via political organization and campaigns.

SH: The third video “Do You, Andy…?” is about inter generational differences and family acceptance. What do you see as the main challenges facing Taiwanese gays and lesbians in gaining social acceptance?

JL: The biggest challenge is acceptance from family, especially in a conservative, Confucian culture where a lot of pride and face is placed on family honor, and having a gay son or daughter might harm that family honor. Thankfully, the mentality is changing.

SH: In reference to the story in the video, do you think older generations of Taiwanese are likely to be accepting of a gay son? 

JL: With the changing times, yes, and also with more exposure to what is happening [around the world]. With 11 countries allowing gay marriage, and US President Obama coming out to support gay marriage,  it certifies this movement.

SH: As a culturally Chinese or Asian society, is acceptance more likely in Taiwan, compared to other places?

JL: Not really, and it will take time for the mindset to change. Taiwan is not a Christian country so there are fewer issues to deal with relating to religion — since many conservative Christians do not accept gays.  Of course conservative muslims do not look to homosexuality favorably and so a lot of people in southeast Asian countries might face opposition in those areas. Also, some countries in Asia tend to be even more macho, such as Korea, so I think life is perhaps harder in those places [compared to Taiwan]. That said, Hong Kong just elected their first gay legislator, so things are really changing.

Taiwan Pride is held on the last Saturday of each October.

Jay Lin is the Managing Director of Portico Media, and was the driving force behind the funding and production of the three videos Be Yourself, Love all the Same, Same Kind of Love, and Do You, Andy…?

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