Showing posts with label pride. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pride. Show all posts

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Taipei Pride 2019: Huge and Political

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This year's Taipei Pride, held earlier today - and the parties are surely still going on - merits so many "that's what she said" descriptors, I don't even know where to begin. It was massive. Huge. So very long. It just kept coming. By the end, my legs were practically falling off.

Basically, it was exactly what you'd expect for the first Pride after legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, the first Asian country to do so.


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I have no idea exactly how big the parade was other than that it was the biggest Taiwan, and therefore Asia, has ever seen (Taipei Pride is the biggest LGBT event in the continent). I found it hard to estimate in part because the usual starting point and route of the parade changed from the Jingfu Gate circle and general 228 Park area to City Hall square - that big esplanade where Ren'ai Road ends - for reasons I'm not sure of. The News Lens puts the total conservatively, I think, at 170,000. New Bloom is perhaps a tad overgenerous with 350,000. All I can say is that I stopped walking and took up a permanent spot thinking the whole parade would pass me in about 20 minutes. Two hours later, it was still going. 



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It was big enough to make the front page of the BBC (to be honest, though, Taipei Pride usually does. And, of course, BBC had to add the stupid language about China and Taiwan, as though China is at all relevant to Taipei Pride (it isn't.) I won't even bother to quote it here.




All the usual corporate sponsors were there - something I don't love, but in an Asian context, also don't hate. Not because it signals that they don't (or don't intend to) discriminate against LGBT workers, job applicants and clients - that should be a given - but because the older generation which is less open to LGBT equality and rights won't necessary listen to their kids and grandkids: the young, liberal participants. But hoo boy, if they learn that the Taiwan branch of some fancy company (and therefore that company's CEO or branch office's General Manager, who is likely to be older and more like them) supports those things, they may be more likely to reconsider.

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LGBT-friendly churches were in attendance as well, a reminder that  while most Christian organizations in Taiwan are anti-gay, we can't judge anyone before we get to know them.


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What really struck me, though, was how much more political this year's Pride was. I mean, Taipei Pride has always had that legacy, acting as it does to offer a beacon of hope to the region that, as President Tsai put it, "progressive ideals may take root in an East Asian society". It's quite typical that people from around Asia and the world come to Taiwan to celebrate Pride here because they simply cannot do so in their own countries, and this year was no exception. What's more, young supporters of political causes, including Taiwanese de jure independence, have typically also been supportive of LGBT causes (older Taiwan independence supporters...not so much).

But this year there was a very strong undercurrent of support for the Hong Kong protesters, mockery of repressive China, and more open support of Taiwanese identity. Other flags and signs supporting Tibet and Xinjiang could also be seen.




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If, by the way, you're pro-LGBT but were still thinking that you could support any candidate in the Taiwanese 2020 elections and it wouldn't matter, think again. It's quite clear not only from the candidates' own messaging but the overall attitude at Pride that if you're not heteronormative, Han Kuo-yu is not the guy for you. Tsai Ing-wen's administration on the other hand, while not perfect, is your best bet (yeah, I needed help to understand this, my Taiwanese sucks).

International organizations that have a presence in Asia such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace were also present - with some participants flying in from abroad to march with their organization's banner.

This was cast in stark relief by one sign in particular:





Homonationalism is an ideology that uses liberal, often pro-LGBT positions as a means to discriminate against immigrants from more "conservative" societies, saying that they bring their anti-LGBT (or illiberal) values with them, so we're in trouble if we let too many of them in. Or, more generally, it's just used as an excuse for prejudice and discrimination in societies where things like marriage equality are now taken as normal and may be supported even by members of the right wing, but xenophobia remains a problem.

And yes, perhaps you'll meet immigrants who live up to the "their values are not like ours" stereotype - nevermind that our values weren't much different just a few years or decades ago - but the fact that Taipei Pride is a massive welcome party for marginalized groups across Asia from these "conservative" societies - shows that one cannot assume liberalism or illiberalism simply by national origin. 




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Of course, the usual bevy of left-leaning political parties showed up, including the much reduced and humbled New Power Party (with a few flags), the Green Party, the State-building Party (with their own truck, spouting very serious political messages) and I assume others. I'm not sure at all if the NPP being on more equal footing representation-wise with these smaller parties is a good thing or not - none of them are currently strong contenders to take down the DPP/KMT two-party vortex, but then it never quite felt fair before that the NPP got all the thunder, y'know?


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This year also felt more sexually diverse than previous years - with huge bisexual, transgender and asexual flags in addition to the usual rainbow.


 
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My own visit to Pride was cut short in part because the route was just so slow, especially before it reached Zhongxiao Dunhua, where things sped up a little bit. I was stuck in a mass of people at City Hall well past the 1:30pm departure time, and by 3pm we hadn't even made it past Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall yet, with several very long waits. This was due at least in part to how little space the parade was allocated. I remember previous demonstrations in this part of Taipei taking up all of Zhongxiao Road or all of Ren-ai Road, or at least one full half of it, but Pride got just one or two lanes, with several close calls (including people trying to speed up a bit walking on the outer edge of the march, quite close to traffic). Some marchers got stuck trying to use the fenced-off walkway by the Taipei White Elephant Dome construction site, only to be forced back into the much-delayed and swollen crowd when that walkway ended.


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I could try to assign blame for this poor planning but we don't really know...oh whatever, let's go for it. Maybe it'll become clearer in a few weeks but right now, it sure looks like the authorities are just less willing to give space to Pride and that could be in part due to homophobia. After all, one aspect of homophobia is reducing the 'space' in which LGBT people may exist, and in today's case, that felt literally true.

But let's not assign blame to every member of law enforcement. Several traffic cops I saw today were wearing small but noticeable rainbow items in a show of support, and the police I saw here and there looked friendly and relaxed, not serious or unsupportive. 


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To end this on a fun note, I did enjoy the preponderance of music this year. 






In previous years each parade route might have had one or two trucks playing music for participants to dance to - otherwise you sort of walked and talked with your friends but there was nothing to keep your energy up. This year, everyone from the usual drag queens to the Korean truck (who were not the only Korean participants) blasting K-Pop to LesPark (which always has great music) and more kept the mood upbeat.


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And, of course, the costumes - with Taipei Pride being so close to Halloween, it'd make sense that it turns into something of a costume party (though I suppose most Pride parades do - I've only ever attended in Taipei though.) Not to get too gossip-rag about it but let me tell you: in 2019, dog daddies and Pikachu are super hot, and the Joker is super not (as a friend I ran into put it, the new Joker is kind of an Angry Straight White Guy thing so that makes sense). Disney princesses, ruling like a queen or goddess, video game and cartoon characters, BDSM, Hong Kong solidarity, Free Hugs and angel wings are in. Showing too much, however, seems to be out.











Plan your Halloween party attire accordingly. 



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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mayor Ko is a Gay-hating, Misogynist Turd

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doctored image (test and arrow mine) from Wikiquote



So, I've tried to be a Very Good Blogger these past few months by keeping my swearing and general foul-mouthedness in check, so I think I've earned this one.

Because I think it's most appropriate to the story to do an end-run over the serious-faced analysis about what it means and what are Ko's intentions exactly and just call it like it is without any of the wannabe pundit BS, I'm just gonna say it straight: Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je is a homophobic, sexist buttclown.

The misogyny has been amply covered, because there is a lot of it. I won't re-tread on that - links to his previous comments about women are covered in the link.

The gay-hating, though? That's new, so let's rumble.

According to Liberty Times (link in Mandarin), while in the USA - which was its own whole drama thing - Ko commented that he voted against marriage equality referendum in the last election, but that he "allowed Taipei to hold the Pride Parade" which shows that "Taipei City is very tolerant".

Don't let his talk about "tolerance" and Pride fool you. First, that's a basic human right (the freedom of assembly) in Taiwan. Oh, thank you so much, Mayor Ko, for giving LGBT people the right to freedom of speech that they already had anyway! Barf.

Second, "tolerance" is not enough. Equal rights and tolerance are both necessary: without tolerance, equal rights can ring hollow as people, even when exercising their rights, may face discrimination. But without equal rights, merely "tolerating" someone else's existence doesn't confer upon them the dignity of actual equal status.

Voting against marriage equality is an anti-gay, anti-equal rights act. Simply put, if you do not think same-sex couples do not deserve the same rights that opposite-sex ones enjoy, you do not believe in equal rights, and you specifically want to deny them to LGBT people. That is a fundamentally anti-gay viewpoint. There's no other way to put it. The two cannot be reconciled. You can talk all you want about "being tolerant" but if you want to deny a group a human right, that is not "tolerant". You are telling opposite-sex couples that they shouldn't be alowed to inherit from each other, make medical decisions for each other, have visitation or next-of-kin rights, adopt, be on each other's insurance or any of the other things opposite-sex couples can do just because they have different junk.


That's anti-equality. Period. There is no "loving" or "decent" way to interpret this.

What's more, "but I allowed Taipei to have Pride!" is a weak-kneed cop-out. Tolerating someone's existence without open comment or harassment and letting them march down the street, but wanting to keep them second-class citizens, is simply not good enough, and is not actually tolerant. Tolerance means accepting that people who aren't like you are human too and therefore have the same goddamn rights you do, period.

Anything less - oh it's so nice, we're so nice to you, you can march and walk and wear your costumes! - is not good enough. There is no excuse. There is no cover. There is no sappy, manipulative "love the sinner" or "acceptance" or "lifestyle" rhetoric.

Either you believe in equal rights or you do not, and Ko Wen-je does not believe in equal rights.


I also wonder what he hoped to accomplish with these comments - his most supportive base are the youth, who are also overwhelmingly pro-equality. Did he expect that he could say this to win older anti-equality voters, but keep the youth with his comments about Pride?

I hope not, because that would mean he thinks the youth are stupid. I certainly hope they don't let this go.

Confusingly, this comes after addressing the right-wing Heritage Foundation touting Taiwan's social values as akin to those of the West (marriage equality is common in the West now) and talking about elections as social movements toward change. To a bunch of right-winters. Huh.


Which...okay, if you think that, why did you vote against the goals of the biggest social movement since the Sunflowers, and arguably the most progressive and Western-aligned, which asked for the most evolution from Taiwanese society?

Because you're a jack-bucket who says whatever and doesn't care, that's why. You proved that with women; now you're just adding LGBT people to the roster. Screw you.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Come to Pride this weekend

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So, I was supposed to go to southern Taiwan this weekend in order to attend the opening of the Donggang boat burning festival (not the boat burning itself - I prefer the opening day). I was going to leave early to go hang out in southern Taiwan, which I actually prefer to Taipei.

But, plans have changed, because Pride is this Saturday.

I'll still go to Donggang on Sunday, but it's really important that as many people as possible attend Pride this year. You should come too. And bring your friends!

In May 2017, Taiwan's highest court ruled that marriage is a right afforded all citizens with no reference to gender, and therefore marriage equality must be allowed. The court gave the government two years to work out a legislative solution: either to simply pass a law allowing marriage equality, or to change the civil code to abide by the ruling.

There have been some political ups and downs, some debate over which route is better (changing the law can likely be done quickly; changing the civil code is harder, and the ruling DPP doesn't think they have the support from the large socially-conservative-but-pro-independence segment of their base to make it happen.) There is a growing sense that the DPP hinted at support for marriage equality when campaigning, and promptly abandoned it to appease their more conservative base, and of course the KMT doesn't give a damn about anyone but the KMT. With elections coming up and the initial 2-year deadline now less than a year away, a lot of activists are upset.

This is especially important with two competing referenda coming up in about a month: one affirming Taiwan's commitment to equality, the other full of outdated, religiously-motivated and hateful garbage (yes, I'm biased). Remind people to go out and vote for love in November.


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Meet at 1:30 at MRT National Taiwan University Hospital station, start out at 2:30 - these are the routes. I always go the red route. 


Cue Pride. With no specific marriage equality rallies planned, and the anti-equality gay-haters being very well-organized and resourced (moreso than the pro-equality side, although I would argue the national consensus is broadly with us if you count those who are not opposed to equality), there is a sense that this year's Pride is going to be more politically charged and all about showing the government that we (LGBT people and allies/supporters) haven't forgotten.


While it's not my place to opine on what Pride should be, I can say what I think it's likely to be - and that you should be there. A friend of mine (gay with a Taiwanese partner if it matters) was also saying he was hoping this year would be super politically charged and motivated. There's a sense in the air that this is what's happening, but we need numbers.

All are welcome at Pride, which means you can be a part of it. You can add to those numbers. You can make it clear that equal rights matter, and it's time for the government to stop pandering to prejudice and outdated, discriminatory thinking.

Pride Taipei usually makes international news - at least it has in the years surrounding the 2017 ruling, as the world watches to see whether Taiwan will be the first country in Asia to give equal marriage rights to all. The numbers do matter, and you do make a difference.


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Show the LGBT community your support, and show the world that Taiwan, while imperfect, is the freest and most progressive country in Asia. Show them that we can do this, and that there is no reason why equality can't exist within Taiwanese culture.

Pride is not a rally or a protest - it's a celebration, and all are welcome. It's a great way for foreign residents, even if you are a bit reticent to attend actual protests, to show their support for this issue. 


Grab your rainbow gear and come with us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Supreme Pain for the Tyrants

IMG_6163Our work is not done.

This coming Saturday, 12/17, is Taichung Pride, and once again we need to beat the numbers of anti-equality protesters who gathered in that city (I think 40,000). As much as I'm not a fan of Taichung and its near impossible transportation, I would go if I didn't have work in Tainan that day.

The day after Christmas (12/26 just in case I have to make that clear) is the date of...well, I'll let Taiwan Law Blog explain it (from their comment on my previous post):

December 26 is a committee meeting where they will decide whether to refer the bill(s) to the entire Legislative Yuan. The plenary session that includes all 113 members will be the second reading, which won't take place until February at the earliest because that's when the next legislative session starts. Also, all three bills in the committee amend the Civil Code, though Yu Mei-nu's doesn't not change the language throughout (are you referring to hers when you said 'append to it'?). There are no civil partnership bills on the table now. Some DPP legislators may introduce one before December 26, but the KMT has said it will not.

There will be protests.

There will be rallies.

I hope many of you will consider going to one or both of these events, lending your bodies once again to provide physical proof that the Taiwanese want marriage equality.

The anti-equality advocates are as organized as ever, and they're not going to stop. It doesn't seem to matter to them that they are in the minority, nor that a huge number of them want to inflict Christian-doctrine inspired law on a country where less than 5% of the population are Christians. Nor does it matter to them that, even if Taiwan were a majority Christian nation, that it is not right for one religion's doctrine to be the deciding factor in laws governing a pluralistic society. The idea that one cannot legislate one's religion, or that one is not entitled to insist that their culture is a certain way (that is, conservative, traditional) when the clear numbers show that it's not, is also lost on them.

Their leaders are acting like tyrants, trying to push beliefs that the majority of Taiwanese have rejected onto the nation simply to satisfy their own dogmatism and prejudice. They are causing real pain to many LGBT Taiwanese who simply want legal recognition of what is already true: legal recognition of relationships that will exist regardless of the law.

Some of them can be talked to, perhaps a few can be convinced. A large number, I suspect, are ensconced in their roles as mini-tyrants, trying to dictate culture to, and inflict unwanted religious dogma on, a populace that doesn't agree with them. All we can do is show the government that they are in the minority and we not only have the numbers, but progress and moral right on our side. If we cannot sway them with compassion, we have to let them feel the pain of losing.

We scored a major victory this past Saturday, 250,000 coming out (pun intended even though I'm straight) to stand for marriage equality, decisively crushing by the numbers those opposed to equality. It's all the more satisfying because the media, in a rare turn of accuracy, reported the more correct crowd estimates for this past Saturday, rightly ignoring the clearly skewed police estimate of 75,000.

The lower estimate given by police, compared to the "200,000" number bandied about for the anti-equality protest, is not an accident. It is deliberate misinformation. It is the essence of fake news. They did the same thing to the Sunflowers, if you remember.

15338733_1221657311242885_590698434348351531_nFrom here

We not only have to bring down the culture war tyrants, but fight back against attempts to minimize the proof that the Taiwanese know what they want, and that that's equality.

We have to keep beating them at the media game, and keep beating them by the numbers. We have to call them out, and we have to refuse to listen to their obfuscatory tactics masquerading as logic. When they quote a debunked study, or post links to a website with an agenda as "proof" of the correctness of their views, or claim falsely that they are the "silent majority", or speak in dogmatic, generalities and deliberately confused and jejune metaphors (for example: "children need an apple and an orange for complete nutrition, not two apples or two oranges"), we must refuse to listen.

When they say this is a Western import, and not intrinsic to Taiwanese culture, we must again refuse to listen. Nobody (except possibly the voice of reason) died and made them emperors of what is and is not Taiwanese culture. If this idea were being forced on Taiwan by Western countries, 250,000 Taiwanese wouldn't have shown up last weekend to insist otherwise. They are the minority and they are the voice of reactionary bigotry, and it's time they felt like it.

As J. Michael Cole put it, this isn't just about marriage equality (link in Chinese) - it's also about what the Taiwanese want their country to be. It's about the process of national identity. Does Taiwan want to be a country of inclusiveness and tolerance, or does it want to deny equal rights to 10% of its citizens because a few people are uncomfortable with it?

This is not a foreign issue. It is not a foreign import. 99.9% (or so) of the attendees on Saturday were Taiwanese - young Taiwanese, but Taiwanese nonetheless. This is a Taiwanese issue, facing a society that, at its core, is accepting, tolerant and progressive by Asian standards.

Taiwan has a beautiful name, and the truly touching show of support last Saturday showed it also has beautiful ideals. We're not done yet, though. We need your bodies again, in the 17th and the 26th, to turn those ideals into legal reality.

Please come.