I’m dating a Taiwanese national here in the US. Due to visa issues (he’s been unable to get a job since graduating with his MBA), he will probably be moving back to Taiwan. I am planning on following him in a few months, after I get things settled here.
I know, in Travel guides and from talking to my boyfriend, that there are gay clubs, etc… in Taiwan. However, before he came to the US my boyfriend wasn’t “out” and he’s been in the US for over two years. So, he is unsure of the climate of acceptance.
Is it acceptable to be openly gay in Taiwan? Will people (citizens and foreigners alike) accept a Taiwanes/American same-sex couple. Is there a gay community in Taiwan?
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any responses.
There is a gay community in Taiwan from what I learned from another poster, but I don’t think taiwan is like NYC or San Francsico. There are gay bars, but I don’t know their names- can anyone help out on that one? In Taiwan, as your friend can tell you better than me, more public physcial closeness (usually a hand over the shoulder) between men (and women) is acceptable than it is in the US.
There’s a gay community here, I guess you could say. I think most gay people here don’t go around broadcasting their homosexuality to everyone they meet. In Taiwan it’s more of a don’t-ask-don’t-tell situation. People may or may not know what’s going on, but it’s not really mentioned. Now, of course, we have Next Magazine, so anything is possible.
There’s a scattering of gay bars and clubs in Taipei and other cities. In Taipei there’s The Source, which is mostly for foreigners and that crowd, and then there’s Funky, which has been around forever, and Going, which is new and, IMHO, boring. There’s probably others, too, but I don’t get out much.
http://www.sex.ncu.edu.tw [has English section]
P.S. If you get married I don’t think they will allow you to
immigrate. In that case ask Richard Hartzell if you could become
a test legal challenge.
Thanks for the info, so far.
V - It’s good to know that physical contact between guys is more acceptable there. If nothing else, at least maybe we could walk down the street with arms around each other… if not holding hands. Even here, there are few places we are comfortable holding hands. And, I’m not expecting it to be like San Fran or even NYC. Thanks for the warning, though.
Poagao - Thanks for the info on the bars, etc… Like I said, I knew about some of them from a gay travel guide, as well as my boyfriend. It sounds like you’ve visited some of those places. Do many of the attract a mixed (gay & straight) crowd? Or are most of them exclusively gay? Here in Washington, DC, even the gay clubs attract some straight people. I guess we are just fun to be around.
Does Next Magazine have a website? Is it in English as well as Mandarin/Taiwanese?
Neither my boyfriend or I are into shouting our sexuality from the street corners. We feel, that in most cases it is our business. Just like your sexuality is your business. But, I would like to know that we can be comfortable being us. If not out in the open, than at least in private among friends, etc…
Dan - Thanks for the websites. As for marriage, we aren’t ready for that yet. Besides, the US doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages (even those in VT and a few other states). So, I doubt Taiwan would recognize us as married, if the US federal government does not. Besides, I don’t think Alex and I would be comfortable being a “test” case. Again, thanks for the input, though.
Originally posted by LJ:
Do many of the attract a mixed (gay & straight) crowd? Or are most of them exclusively gay?
I dunno. I can never tell who’s gay and who’s not. My gaydar must be broke.
As for walking arms-in-arms, as it were, some Chinese guys do this, especially in the countryside, but I’ve never seen foreigners or foreign/Taiwanese couples do it. All of the Taiwanese girl/Foreign guy couples do, though, while Taiwanese guy/Taiwanese girl couples seldom do so. You could try it and see if people stare at you (that is, even more than they normally do to all foreigners). I wouldn’t know, really, because I’m not a holding-hands kinda guy.
What’s up with all the hedging on this thread?
Taipei is loaded with gays!
Foreign and Taiwanese alike.
You may not find people marching down the streets dressed in nuns outfits and painted faces, but like Poagao said, it’s more of a ‘don’t tell’ situation.
Poagao, I think GOING is great, btw. Of course I went with Taiwanese gay friends and it seems not a place foreign men go to pick up Taiwanese, like the Source, but I really enjoyed myself there as a straight western female. I don’t like Funky as much, but I can def see the appeal, the guys there are hot!
Had dinner other night with three gay friends, two being a couple, it was no biggie when one part of the couple arrived later at the restaurant and gave a long leisurely kiss to his bf. None of the customers even flinched! The table next to ours took it in, but didn’t stare at them or even exchange glances between themselves (I was checking them for reaction!). Tell me, how many places in the US would that happen, outside SF?
So, I think the Taiwanese attitude towards homosexuality is quite mature. It’s certainly not considered a sin like in Judeo Christian societies, it’s more a problem when family pressure forces gay men to marry (knowing they’re gay in many cases) in order to produce offspring.
Being a touchy subject in this way, I do have a couple friends who’re not ‘out’ to their families yet.
LJ, you say your bf wasn’t out before going to the US, so he’ll be coming back here as a new man and will probably find himself making new friends to compliment his lifestyle. I’ve seen that happen on several occassions with Taiwanese friends newly out.
Also, I assume his parents don’t know either, am I right?
Sounds like the two of you will both be in similar situations, you being a newbie in Taiwan, he virtually one.
The Source Homepage for a little more insight into the community which encircles foreign/taiwanese gay life in Taipei.
Btw, 80% of my best friends in Taipei are gay men, both Taiwanese and foreign, much to the dismay of my bf. But, he’s always been very cool about that, which I think is a pretty standard attitude here.
Alien, I’ve only been to Going twice, so I’m no expert. It just seems like an unadorned storeroom with a bar in it. Then again I have a certain nostalgia for Funky, since it’s been around for so long. I like the feeling of Funky more, and yes, the guys there are a lot more attractive. I don’t like the crowd at the Source that much. The only reason I ever go there is because it is within walking distance.
Last time I checked TeXound was gay as. So if you like techno, there’s always plenty of white t-shirted and no t-shirted boys rubbing it together on the dance floor.
My inmpression about attitudes towards gays in Taiwan is that it’s similar to the Tawianese version of ‘racism’. That is to say that predjudices, although not severe are very ingrained. Most people will think of gays as different and quite possibly sick, but you won’t get any anti-gay hatred.
Oh yeah, I’ve seen Taiwanese male English teachers who were more camp than a scout jamboree, but their workmates all seemed to totally accept them.
I recall one time on the train around 10:30pm that two guys were being very openly gay, though this is the first occurence of this since I have been here. Taiwan does have a gay community, but I think it is less obvious here than in other countries. As far as Taiwan being open to it, well I wouldn’t be outrageously obvious, but I think the general public doesn’t care seem too much. But I could be wrong. There does seem to be many gay pubs, you just have to ask some others who go, I’m sure they’d take you.
Originally posted by Bu Lai En:
I've seen Taiwanese male English teachers who were more camp than a scout jamboree, but their workmates all seemed to totally accept them.
Taiwanese are very accepting of camp, which comes as no surprise when you watch TV here. But what does that have to do with this discussion?
Wow… thanks for all the comments, suggestions and responses. I’m feeling like things may be better than I thought.
Here’s the dish on me and the bf, if anyone is interested and just to answer some implied (and not so implied) questions:
My bf is out to his parents and sister. And, on a recent trip back to Taiwan came out to a friend there, though she was drunk at the time, hitting on him, and probably doesn’t remember. Here he is out to many, but not all. Many of the Taiwanese here that he met when he first moved he hasn’t told. Mainly I think because they were his initial support group and he’s still worried about what they’ll think, etc… even though he’s now got a lot of other friends, gay and straight, that accept him.
Neither of us want to “shout it from the roof tops.” We just want to live our lives. As for holding hands in public… we don’t always do it here, even in places where it is acceptable. Though, we will sometimes walk arm in arm, etc… or hold hands while sitting in a restaurant. We are not completely into the public display of affection thing. We never kiss in public.
And, yes… Bu Lai Er… I’m just wondering if, when/if we do choose to hold hands, etc will people accept us. By the way, neither of us are anything close to camp. We are more the hotel/room service type… lol
Thanks again for all help. Anyone have anything else to add? I need to get to work. Have a great day.
Originally posted by Bu Lai En:
Well, at home if someone's that camp it generally means that they're gay.
Oh, ok. I didn’t know that.
I know many gay Taiwanese and gay foreigners here. By and large, they all love to party and dance and have a good time. All my Taiwanese gay friends are “out” here, and enjoy being part of the gay scene, but they are still hiding their orientation from their parents. It seems the families can be much less accepting than the public at large.
Boots, et. al. –
One of the things my bf told me about gays in Taiwan was that (in his experience) most people think that, “It is ok to be gay, as long as you aren’t in my family.” Of course, that is my family’s opinion. So, maybe it’s not so cultural.
My bf also wants to thank all of you for responding, as do I. Thanks.
Originally posted by LJ:
Wow... thanks for all the comments, suggestions and responses. [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] I'm feeling like things may be better than I thought.
It seems you didn't mention so far _where_ in Taiwan your bf comes from. I don't want to spoil your happiness, but you should remember that most posters here are living in Taipeh. If that is your place to go - ok. But Taipeh is different from the "rest" of the island in many aspects.
Here in Central Taiwan it is often ok to be gay, but as Poagao said: "don't ask don't tell". While you may find people understanding you, in everyday life on the street it seems gays do not openly display their orientation. A former fellow student of my girl friend is even using her (after asking us) as a mockup girl friend - even now in the US. He is not worrying that much about the locals there, but about the taiwanese community.
You better shouldn't have too high expectations, because then you can't get too disappointed - and will be much happier if things are better...
The Taiwanese attitude to being gay seems, to me, to be going through a transition. Right now it’s something like “yes we know they are around and that we shouldn’t stare at them, but we’d rather not live next door to them”
Despite some of the posts on this subjest, let’s not equate a gay foreigner’s experience with that of a local’s.
I regularly walk around holding hands with my Taiwanese boyfriend, and other than a few dumbstruck stares from old ladies, we are largely left alone or met with sniggers of disbelief. Nevertheless, as a foreigner you are almost expected to be ‘strange’ so, in a sense, I would expect that. So for foreigners, I think it is fairly liberal here and thankfully free of the exigencies inherent in Christian countries.
The situation for Taiwanese is far from equitable however. The high progile ‘wedding’ of a gay activist Taiwanese couple last year was met with general outrage, ironically not for their being gay, but I sense for their having shamed the traditionalist Chinese family model, and hence in their cooperative cultural view, all Chinese.
I think this evidences the fact that non-traditional relationships are still buried here by conservative values and many Taiwanese choose not to ‘come out’ for fear of shaming, or being isolated from their families.
Taiwan is full of well known closeted celebrity figures who could ease the lives of younger gays struggling with their identities by standing up and being counted. Such is how the situation improved in many western countries which implies it could work here too.
Once that happens, and granny realises her favourite Mandopop singer is a shirt lifter, acceptance and then legal rights will follow.
Olaf… were you trying to burst my bubble of happiness? Actually, my bf is from Taipei. So, all of the comments from the posters have been relevant. I realized that location plays a role… it does as well in the US. Gays and lesbians are accepted more in one city/state/region than in another. I wouldn’t expect anything to be any different than anywhere else.
In addition, I know that we will get some stares. Even in the predominately gay area of DC we spend most of our time, we get stares from time to time (if and when we do hold hands). I am not going into this naively. One of the many reasons I posted this question.
Mephistopholes… It is good to hear your experiences with your Taiwanese bf. You are right, the more that celebrities and public figures come out, the more “normal” it seems to the general public. And, the more young people realize that it’s ok. Even though my bf’s parents know he is gay, they still bug him to come home, find a nice girl, get married and have kids. It takes some people longer than others…
Indeed, shortening this search string reveals the rest of the general groups.
(There is also news:soc.culture.taiwan , in English.)
http://www.gingins.com.tw [bookstore near TaiDa, business so good that
they are buying up the street now with added restaurant and hair salon at
least so far. Ask the manager A-Zhe, oops Azhe, where’d he put the
poster with new legislator Chen Wenqian’s signature on it. At least
there’s a photo of her somewhere in their store.]
Chen Wenqian and Zhu Huiliang are the two female legislators who held
their [mock] marriage two years ago. Zhu Huiliang sponsored a pro
hanyu pinyin [street sign romanization system] press conference that
rocketed me and Hartzell’s butts to P.3 of Liahebao [United daily
news] http://www.geocities.com/jidanni/images/lhb001012.jpg ,
http://www.geocities.com/jidanni/20001011zhuhuilaing.txt , oops,
strayed far off topic.