Gay Taiwan; why not China?

Apparently Taiwan, which just held its first “gay pride” celebration, is light years ahead of its Asian neighbors when it comes to gay rights:

Gay pride parades are commonplace in Vancouver or Boston or Berlin. But for Taipei, Taiwan, capital of a supposedly conservative, Confucian society, last weekend’s demonstration broke new ground. Mayor Ma Ying-jeou called it “the first such parade in Taipei, the first in Taiwan, even the first in the Chinese world.” It was more than that, too. The emergence of an open gay culture in a non-Western society is yet another sign that modern societies around the world are becoming more and more alike — homogenizing, if you like.

Legalizing gay marriage is next on Taiwan’s agenda, a move that is so astonishing I can scarcely believe it. Even if the initiative fails, there’s a huge lesson here about just how quickly a society’s culture can grow more tolerant.

Remember, Chiang Kai Shek and his Nationalists 80 years ago were just as brutal and murderous as their successors, Mao and the CCP. And look at how far they have progressed in Taiwan. Why not China? Do we really have to keep saying, “No, that’s impossible. China has its own unique culture”? Taiwan had its own unique culture as well. But look at how, with a little bit of freedom and education, a culture can shake off the chains of ignorance and intolerance. Why not China?

Related Post: Gays in China

The Discussion: 5 Comments

it’s natural, just like america, some part of america are open to gay, but some part of america are still very against gay, also many other western countries.

November 8, 2003 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Hi George. I think you are missing the broader point: even if a culture — whether we’re talking about an entire country like China or just of one of America’s states — is intolerant and unfair to gays, there is always the possibility of change. Look at South Africa. We always thought Apartheid would be there forever.

Now, look at Taiwan and how much it has changed. So it is not impossible. What it takes is leadership, education and determination. Singapore and China (yes, China) have both taken steps in just the past two years to show greater toleration of gays. China, of course, has a very long way to go (Singapore has a thriving and relatively open gay community already). I say, however, that the goal is not impossible. Examples of societal change are plentiful. A single enlightened leader, like Nelson Mandela, can change the world.

November 8, 2003 @ 2:26 am | Comment

thanks, i got it, thanks for the patience to answer my comments

November 8, 2003 @ 2:59 am | Comment

The chains of ignorance are being shaken off. Homosexuality was decriminalized earlier this year. Around the corner from my apartment is a popular gay bar. The door is decorated with posters of semi-naked men. On the weekends, crowrds often spill out onto the sidewalks. Nobody bothers them. Unthinkable a few years ago.

November 8, 2003 @ 6:04 am | Comment

Jeremy, you are right of course, China’s gay “scene” has made dramatic strides. But it’s important to keep in mind that those strides came from a point of zero – IOW, it has evolved from nothing at all to now mirror where some of its neighbors probably were ten or more years ago.

Another interesting thing to know about the gay scene, at least in Beijing: while there are a handful of bars, many of the young Chinese guys are still frightened by them, and there is a lopsided number of “money boys” at just about every gay hangout. Guys I knew in Beijing felt a lot of shame about themselves and wouldn’t think of being seen at such a place. Thank God for the Internet, which is for them the only way to reach out and meet others like themselves.

Shanghai, by the way, is quite a bit different, with many more bars and hangouts and, compared to its northern neighbor, an infinitely more relaxed scene. Still, everyone, Western or local, needs to be extremely careful and discreet.

November 9, 2003 @ 4:09 am | Comment

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