Showing posts with label charity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charity. Show all posts

Sunday, December 2, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different: Cafe Dalida Drag Show and Charity Fundraiser (and thoughts on charity in Taiwan)

This is totally the photo I will use from now on to reply to offensive things people say on the Internet.

Before I get into my post - here's my dilemma. I'm out of photo space on this blog, but I don't want to pay and I don't want to change addresses, and I don't want to never again post photos. Any ideas on what I should do? Is there a way out of this?

Anyway, so last night we went to a drag show and charity fundraiser at Cafe Dalida, one of the bars behind Red House in Ximending. I love going to that area - Red House is one of my favorite Taipei buildings, and itself houses a lovely cafe and gift shop. Behind it is a strip of gay bars with hilarious names like G2-Paradise and Bear Bar (you get used to the hilarious names when you live in DC as I did - we had a place called The Fireplace) which, all together, make up the best area for outdoor seating in, well, in all of urban Taipei (Maokong excluded). You can usually get good deals on drinks, although don't ask for anything that needs to be done really well (like mojitos - details like muddled mint are skipped and lemon is substituted for lime), and you can always get a seat to enjoy Taipei's rare good weather. 

Also, no dodgy guys hitting on you! Well, maybe if you're a guy. Brendan claims it's never happened, but he's totally cute, so I figure it's because when we go we always go together. 

Isn't he totally adorable?

The weather last night was crap - but the table umbrellas came out and kept us basically dry. Well-known drag queen Gina (above) put on a drag show for her birthday, which doubled as a fundraiser for  Harmony Home Taiwan, a very worthy organization that cares for people with and children affected by HIV and AIDS.

It could have been a function of where in China I lived (the rural southwest), and the time I lived there (ten years ago - wow) - but one thing I've noticed that sets Taiwan apart from China is the prevalence of charity organizations and willingness to donate to them. I know such organizations exist in China, but my observation was that donating to charity wasn't a *thing*. You might give to a beggar - the most common being kids in tatty school uniforms claiming they couldn't afford their school fees - but a local where I lived wouldn't generally donate a chunk of change or the proceeds of an event to a charity. I'm sure there's more of that in the cities, but even with that in mind I see a greater charitable impulse in Taiwan than I do in China.

Here are some stats.

An interesting paper but only compares a few countries

A study done in the US showing low-income people tend to give more (in the USA that's mostly due to donations to churches).

Charitable giving by country - now we're getting somewhere - this photo shows Taiwan ("province of China" - ICK!!! Do I have to write and complain now?) at about twice the amount of China.

Here it is on Wikipedia - with a quote from Ma Ying-jiu calling the results "unfair" ("President Ma Ying-jeou described the result of a poll ranking Taiwan 72nd among 153 countries for charitable behavior as "unfair, " saying it has transformed itself "from an importer of love into an exporter of love") I can see where that's coming from - if results don't include charity donated abroad - such as sponsorship of impoverished children in other countries - and if it is true that the Taiwanese have done a great deal of that, to the point where it'd affect their ranking, then it is a fair point.

And yet Taiwan also beats out Japan and, in fact much of East Asia. It's beaten out by Mongolia (barely) and Hong Kong (by a lot - I'd say "British influence" but that'd imply a sort of Western supremacist racism that I do not wish to imply - just that Britain ranks far higher, and Hong Kong culture is obviously strongly influenced by the British. Make of that what you will, I won't make anything more of it for fear of it being misinterpreted). seems I'm right. Taiwan is a far more charitably giving country than China, which ranks really horribly low. Unconscionably low for a country that openly aspires to become a world - no, the world, superpower. So my powers of observation are pretty dead on in comparing Taiwan and China in this way, although I would not have guessed that we ranked below Mongolia (or Tajikistan etc.).

Small as it is, it's something to be proud of. I'm not just spouting crap when I say that I feel people in Taiwan are kinder, more socially aware and more giving than what I noticed in China. Taiwanese will often say "我們比大陸有人情味“ or something along those lines (I don't think they'd quite say it that way, seeing as I'm a stilted non-native speaker!). I know other bloggers have said the Taiwanese are not as friendly as they think they are - which is not the same as being "giving", but the two are kind of related, are they not? I disagree. The Chinese do not "run ruder on the surface and friendlier below" - there are rude and friendly Chinese, just as in any country, but on average run ruder...and below, will sometimes be nice to you, but will always keep a greater distance from you than your Taiwanese friends, who will treat you like a true friend, not a "foreign friend". I find the Taiwanese to definitely be kinder than the Japanese, who are polite up front, to a fault, but distant down below. I don't have enough experience in Korea to really talk about life there, but my husband has said I certainly would not get along with Korean men as well as I get along with Taiwanese men, due to a more deeply ingrained sexist streak and a cultural inability to laugh at oneself. The only Asian country I've been to where I've felt as comfortable and able to make true local friends is India.

Anyway, those are "on average" observations and not meant to reflect on individuals, so please don't take them that way...and it's on a tangent from "charitable giving". I included it here because I do believe the two things are related. How kind and friendly you are often translates into how charitable, generous and giving you are - and despite some expats claiming the opposite, I find the Taiwanese, on average, to be all of those things in a way that the Chinese, on average, are not.

But back to the drag show.

Woo-woos (sweet, not very strong pink cocktails that include apple, cranberry and rum) were sold, with a portion of the proceeds to Harmony Home, and the queens and staff came through with donation boxes while we were treated to the show. The bar itself was booked out, but we were able to get a small table after some time waiting in the seated area outside the main drag (see what I did there?), and could see just fine by standing. It was not super packed, but it was full.

The show did run a bit short, starting at 10:30 and ending around maybe midnight with a lengthy break. I was hoping for more all-night action, like what you'd get in DC, but hey. This is the first time I've even heard about a drag show in Taiwan, let alone been to one (obviously they exist, I had just never heard about them). And the queens looked great.

Another thing I noted was the diversity of the crowd. Expats and locals mingled much more freely than I usually see on nights out in Taiwan. I have more Taiwanese friends than foreign friends (although I have a lot of both), and I find that when I go out with either group, generally it's a place where most people are either foreigners with some Taiwanese  or Taiwanese with a smattering of foreigners, but not a huge mix of both (or if there are, it's white guys and Taiwanese women, which is fine unless it's a meat market, in which case, OK, have fun, I'm outta here). And when I do go to gatherings that are mostly foreign, I am often one of the only women there unless I organize it!

Here I can't say who was in the majority - the queens themselves were both local and foreign, as was the audience, in a pretty even mix of male, female, Taiwanese and local. That's great - we need more of that. We might have less misunderstanding and cultural posturing between foreign and Taiwanese men, and move away from the old expat-local cliches if we had more mixing.