Showing posts with label rallies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rallies. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2020

Some words of calm and comfort on election eve

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On the eve of the election I have no new analysis, no specific insights - really I’m just a massive ball of anxiety. 

As my husband pointed out on Facebook, that’s because we all watched what happened with Trump and Brexit - especially Trump - and although Han is not Trump, he hits some of the same notes and it triggers something in our brain that terrifies us. Terrifying xenophobic populists have shown us around the world that they can get elected, but only Trump was not favored to win before he actually did. It doesn’t matter that this fear is probably unfounded - we’re not allowed to discuss polls at this point but we all know who is likely to be elected tomorrow. It’s something deep inside our lizard brains producing this anxiety...that things could go south, because they have before. 

My Taiwanese friends are also nervous. It’s hard not to be, even when the odds are in our favor.

It probably will be closer than we think. Sure, we all know what the numbers say, but older folks vote in greater numbers and that could skew results in Han’s favor. 

So I want to offer a few words of comfort, or at least try. As much to sooth my self as for you guys, my readers. 

First, let’s remember that if the election that produced Trump had happened under Taiwan’s system, Clinton would have won. The system, in that sense, works in our favor. 

Second, let’s remember that Clinton’s lead over Trump was more tenuous than...well, we’re not allowed to discuss the polls. Trump had a greater chance of winning even under the US’s jacked system than I think Han has in Taiwan. 

Third, it’s astounding to me how Tsai has in fact managed to unite a large swath of the electorate against Han (oh yeah, Han helped to do that to himself as well, and various international events haven’t helped him). I have friends and acquaintances who skew blue or blue-ish, who happily voted for Ma. Some of them even grudgingly voted for Chu, knowing he’d lose. Every last one of them (with one exception) can’t stand Han, and many are switching to Tsai. Some are simply not voting. They may not stay green forever, and this is anecdotal evidence, but it’s a promising thing to observe. She hasn’t united everyone, but I’m amazed at how she’s turned her public relations machine into a mechanism that actually works. What’s more, I’ve met hardly any young people who’ve been turned on by Han, but plenty of older folk who still support Tsai. Han may win the Auntie vote, but he’s not going to get all of them, and he’s going to get far fewer of the youth than he needs. 

I also have to remember that a lot of younger people are talking about how their conservative older relatives will vote. Again this is anecdotal, but the discussion seems to have more urgency and underlying it is a more direct, personal call to action. Watching Thursday’s Han rally solidified it: we’ll probably win but this won’t be an easy victory regardless of the numbers, and if we want to win, we’d better turn out in greater numbers. Han’s people may have thought that inflating the number of attendees for his rally (come on, there is no way 800,000 people showed up - we’re not stupid) would make him look good, but it probably had another effect too. That is, to remind his opponents that, as much as he seems like a joke, he isn’t one. Seeing all those ROC-flag-laden aunties on the MRT surely prodded some people on the fence about voting at all to hustle tomorrow.

In fact, reports indicate that Han has lost, not gained, momentum. It's hard to say given the polling blackout, but I don't think he's showing signs of pulling off an upset. 


It doesn't hurt that Tsai has actual experience and qualifications, and achievements to her name, and Han has none. She has platforms, he has rabble-rousing. That may not necessarily matter to the average Chen, but it doesn't hurt. Plus, while older folks may buy the ROC rah-rah, most Taiwanese simply don't. I hope they realize now and not later that they do not want the Taiwan that Han is promising them; they want the one that Tsai is actively building.

I figure, if the older folks will turn out no matter what, higher turnout overall benefits Tsai, as it means younger voters are casting ballots. And it looks - just from public transport and what people are saying, plus a fine weather forecast - that the turnout will be solid. 

Yes, it worries me that, despite all sorts of scandals doing Han real damage, from his luxury housing to his mistress to the Chinese spy case to the fact that Kaohsiungers just aren’t happy with him, he’s still not a joke. In response, there’s not a lot to throw at Tsai that actually sticks. They can say “the economy is bad” but it’s not. They can say she’s just another DPP chauvinist, but under her tenure the DPP has grown more diverse and inclusive, and shed a lot of the Hoklo chauvinism that characterized their earlier leadership. They can throw sexist attacks at her but I don’t think those will win over people who were already prepared to vote for her (although surely there are sexists who just can’t stand that she has the wrong genitals). 

It also worries me that the KMT seems to be taking a social conservative polarization approach in the countryside, which a lot of liberal-but-blue Taiwan urbanites are unaware of (if they fully understood what was going on, some of them might turn away from the KMT). It’s a clear attempt to win over traditionally DPP voters who do value Taiwan’s sovereignty but can be angered by “scary gay people” and promises of a “better” economy (even though the economy, again, is not bad) into voting against their natural allegiance. 

This is why it’s going to be closer than we think, and Han is no joke. 

On the other end, though, the DPP has managed to put forward some popular candidates, a few of whom are giving headaches to KMT candidates who thought they were safe. The KMT’s own actions recently - not just the party list debacle but the Alex Tsai scandal - have blunted its efforts to pull off an upset. And Taiwan tends to give its presidents - even ones with low approval - 8 years, though the country hasn’t been democratic long enough for that to be assured. (And yes, I am aware that politicians with high approval ratings, such as Chen Shui-bian as Taipei mayor, have gone on to lose). 

Speaking of Alex Tsai, nothing could make me happier than to watch the KMT’s absolutely hilarious amateur hour, as it attempted to tease the release of some last-minute surprise (probably what they believed would be a successful recanting by alleged Chinese spy and Australian asylum seeker Wang Li-qiang) only to have it blow up in their face spectacularly thanks to good reporting in the Australian media. Even KMT diehards I know quite literally spit when they hear Alex Tsai’s name. The diehard Han fans will still turn out for their cabbage man, but this may turn a few people away. 

And speaking of China not helping its own cause, I have to remember that the Beijing establishment tried its damnedest to quash the Hong Kong protest spirit, but pro-China lawmakers were crushed. There is video evidence of them paying elderly protesters to vote. Just because China is trying to interfere doesn’t mean they’ll succeed. 

But at the end of the day, while I am girding my loins in case I get kicked in the teeth again as I did with Trump, I do in fact believe that Tsai will win. 

At least, I need to remind myself of this. I need to keep recanting these points, over and over, to stay calm. 

You see, it’s not just another election where if the guy I don’t like wins, nothing too bad will happen. Considering the turn towards authoritarianism and populism that the world is taking, and China’s increasing threats and attempts to sabotage Taiwan’s democracy, I am not at all sure Taiwan, as the country I consider my home, will survive a Han administration intact. If it makes it through at all, it will be broken and tired, as the US is now. 

I do believe this is sort of a “last chance” for the world. After Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Modi and more (there are a few in Europe...in fact, the whole world is reeling), Taiwan has a chance to stand up to a Trump-like populist and say “this needs to end”. We can show the world that these people can be defeated. We must. It’ll get the world’s attention at least, and it’s vital for the country. 

So stay calm. If you can vote, do so. Am I confident? No - the 2016 US election taught me never to be confident of these things again. But I'm at the best place I can be. 

Chillin’ at the Freddy Lim rally

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Tsai, Freddy Lim and Lin Fei-fan - and I think that's Lai Pin-yu


Update: now with photos! 

I really admire people who have the stomach to attend rallies for the bad guys - I just can’t do it. As in, it directly affects my mental health and I stay away for my own well-being. Considering this, while everyone was reporting on the big Han rally last night, I went over to Freddy Lim’s rally outside Longshan Temple. 

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Lin Fei-fan takes the stage


First, I urge people not to compare these two rallies. Han’s big rally - which absolutely didn’t reach 700,000 people as they claim - was for a presidential candidate who organized attendees from all over the country (that’s not necessarily wrong, it’s just that it’s a national audience - though it’s worth noting that it seems to be the same people bussed everywhere). Lim is a legislative candidate, not a presidential one, and this was a local rally with local flavor. 


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A cute sign for Tsai
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The turnout was solid


In fact, if you compare Freddy’s rally a few weeks ago on the same Ketagalan Boulevard site as Han’s, you’ll note that a (mere) legislative candidate was able to fill the entire boulevard. A presidential candidate did that, and filled most (but not all) of the Jingfu Gate circle - if you look at pictures, there was still space to move around. That’s actually impressive...for Freddy. For Han, this turnout is good - at least it’s not embarrassing - but it actually compares poorly against Lim and Han’s own previous rallies.

How do I know it wasn’t 700,000? The Sunflowers claimed 500,000 - I’m not sure about that number, but whatever - and you couldn’t even approach Jingfu Gate. We were stuck way back by the National Concert Hall. 

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And people seemed genuinely excited for Tsai and Lim


In any case, I headed to Freddy’s rally. As I got off the MRT, I grabbed my Freddy flag - you’re not supposed to wave those on the MRT as political campaigning is banned there, but it was in the way of my keys and metro card - and asked a bunch of Han supporters in front of the door to please let me off the train. Two women carrying ROC/Han flags quite deliberately not only did not move (although there was space, or they could have stepped off the train briefly), but actively blocked me. One sort of arm-nudged her friend to be more in my way! 

I found this behavior extremely rude, especially as I made a particular effort to sound especially polite to them in the beginning. In the end I was unable to get around them, and had to push through. I gave them a sharp “RUDE!” in Chinese as I did. If this is what Han supporters are like, I’m happy to be on the other side. 

The rally itself had a lot more local flavor than the Chthonic concert on Ketagalan. This was surely deliberate strategy. That concert was for general support, and for the youth vote. This was for the uncles and aunties in his actual neighborhood. The music was very old-school Taiwanese, the speeches were full of piss and vinegar (though some were more exciting than others) and were conducted almost entirely in Taiwanese, with a little Mandarin peeking through. Smoke machines, disco lights, background music - this rally had it all. It was less polished than the previous one, and that was entirely intentional. 

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It was extremely crowded, a good turnout for a legislative candidate


The turnout was good - all seats were taken, plus a large standing crowd along the entire perimeter. Freddy goods - stickers, towels, keychains, t-shirts - sold at a good clip. Crucially, the turnout wasn’t just young people. In fact, I was in a sea of middle-aged and older folks who were all enthusiastic. That’s good news for Freddy, who needs this ‘older’ vote to keep Wanhua. These are the folks Lin Yu-fang could depend on, so it’s good to see that Freddy is netting at least some of them. Hopefully enough to win. The rally took up the entire length of Guangzhou Road outside the temple and towards the market at the far end, spilling onto the esplanade leading to the underground market entrance. I was hungry and thirsty, but there was absolutely no way to get to the Family Mart opposite. 


Speakers included legislative candidate Lai Ping-yu (known for her cosplay-inspired campaign), Premier Su Cheng-chang and his his signature raspy voice, DPP Deputy Secretary General and “guy in charge of mobilizing the youth” Lin Fei-fan, former Kaohsiung governor (now Vice Premier, yes? His roles seem to keep changing) Chen Chi-mai, Freddy Lim himself, and of course President Tsai. One of the musicians, who was very young, also spoke but I missed most of this as I was chatting with another young attendee. All of the folks who’ve been making the rounds speaking - Tsai, Lim, Lin - sounded a little hoarse. It’s been a long season. 

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Really, I couldn't even get to the Family Mart


The speeches themselves were better than one might expect. Lin Fei-fan is known for being a good speaker, and he broke out his Taiwanese more than he has in the past (it is one of his native languages but you don’t hear it from him that often, he’s more likely to do public speaking in Mandarin). The gist of his speech - the Mandarin parts I could follow - were that Taiwan and Hong Kong are concurrently locked in a battle against China, and we are not going to let Taiwan become the next Hong Kong. “We don’t yield, we don’t kneel, we don’t walk on our knees,” he said, and I thought that was just great. 

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Outside Longshan Temple



Towards the end he addressed some of the criticisms he’s received taking a position in the DPP, seeing as he’s so well-known for criticizing them. He said, “we know we haven’t done enough, we know we haven’t gone far enough, but we will, please give us a chance to do so” (not an exact translation). 

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Freddy's speech


Typically, “we’re not good enough, we know that and we’ll do better” is not a great campaign tactic, but there’s something very old-school Taiwanese politics (that whole humility game, though it’s often performative) about it, and he’s the right person to deliver that message considering the criticism he’s endured. 



To be honest, I couldn’t follow a lot of the other mostly-Taiwanese speeches, though I think Freddy’s focused a bit more on local issues than he typically has. Tsai’s (in Mandarin) was pretty clear: One Country Two Systems will never work, Taiwan can never give up its sovereignty, the China threat is real, etc. etc.  She did better than usual, speaking with more clarity and emotion and less detachedness, wonkishness and repetitive call-and-response. This was a somewhat enjoyable speech, far more so than the one she gave on Ketagalan at the previous Freddy rally.

In fact, people seemed genuinely excited to see her, and genuinely energized by her speech. That's a win. 

I think the size of the Han rally gave the speakers renewed passion, and pushed them to speak with energy and emotion (well, except Chen Chi-mai, who always sounds a little removed and dorky, but honestly, I like him.) I wouldn’t call it nervousness, but everyone’s on edge as voting begins in a matter of hours. It felt like a final push, because it was one. 

Notably, after the rally ended, a group of Hong Kong protesters raised flags and shouted “Freedom for Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” in Cantonese, attracting a sizeable crowd. Someone from the Statebuilding Party also waited for the rally to end to take out a microphone as volunteers lifted large posters and gave out tissues and stickers. He delivered an impassioned speech, and while Statebuilding is a little too close to nationalist for my taste, I appreciated their very grassroots, take-to-the-street strategy. In fact, that Hong Kongers and the Statebuilding Party felt this was a good rally to make an appearance made the whole thing feel very democratic. 





After all, all of these issues are connected - Hong Kong, Taiwan, what kind of country we want Taiwan to be - and the official speeches mirrored that. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Come support marriage equality this Friday!

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This Friday morning - that's May 17 - the Legislature will vote on the three 'same sex marriage' (not marriage equality) bills currently under consideration. People I know are saying that the Executive Yuan's bill - that is, the least bad of the three - will come up for a vote first, as it was introduced first. If it passes, the other two get thrown out. There was some attempt to 'reconcile' the three bills into one thing the Legislature could vote on, but that, uh, didn't happen, because one side keeps stating facts and making good arguments that take the needs of LGBT citizens into account, and the other side can't even get their facts straight and don't care about LGBT citizens' rights.

Although it's not great, it would be best for everyone if the Executive Yuan bill passes for a few reasons. First, it'd mean that bills which protect the rights of LGBT citizens least would not be considered, which is especially important in the case of the so-called 'compromise' bill, which would (horrifyingly) allow relatives of either member of the couple to sue to stop the marriage from being legally recognized. (Edit: this provision has been stricken from the bill.)

It would also mean that there would be a legal framework for how to implement same-sex marriage now, with a fairly clear (though legally tiring) path to actual marriage equality. If we just let the interpretation of the Civil Code take effect on May 24th, nobody really knows what will happen and very little about the actual rights of married same-sex couples will be clear. Finally, this is the bill that LGBT groups support. If we want to be good allies, we should let them lead, and support it too.


And the DPP will need all the vocal support it can get, seeing as it has handled this issue disastrously from the start.

This is the final scheduled vote before the Civil Code interpretation changes automatically, as per the ruling of the Council of Grand Justices, on May 24th. Basically...this is it.

So, there's a rally planned that starts at 8:30am outside the Legislative Yuan. Pro-equality advocates are hoping for a good turnout, even on a Friday morning. I'll be there, wandering around, taking photos, generally adding my physical presence to the crowd.

If you care about equal rights and human rights, I ask that you come too. Take time off if you have to. Tell your friends. Not just the foreigners (though it's easier for a lot of us to be free on a random morning), but your Taiwanese friends. Apply for half-day leave now.

Plus, you can be sure the anti-gay folks will be there too. We need to outnumber them just to show the legislature that equality is the only real future for Taiwan.

If the best of the three bills passes, we still won't have marriage equality, but we will have something on the road to it, and if we show up in numbers that will make an important statement going forward.

See you there.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Whatever Happens Tomorrow

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I'm back, just in time! My last pre-dissertation paper is in and I've caught up on sleep, so hopefully it'll be less of a wasteland in here while I get back into writing (though I have a backlog of things I need to write for other people, so it may not be the frenzy that was October).

So, I awoke from my post-academic-writing stupor to realize, oh crap, the election is tomorrow! I can't vote so it shouldn't matter to me, but it does.

I don't like...any of the candidates, just about anywhere. So I'm not even bothering - the major races are a mess and that's that. Taipei especially has no good options. Sooo, whatever. Most of all, I'm worried about marriage equality. And pissed, because while I understand that the DPP wussed out in part because their more conservative supporters weren't having it on changing the civil code, if they'd acted swiftly and just pushed it through, we would not be in this position now, with a vote coming up on people's basic human rights.

This is related to my worry about the candidates, though: the KMT candidates are just...so anti-equality, and anti-gay groups are apparently showing up at their rallies according to friends of mine who have attended (I've been too busy to attend, because I'm a cut-rate blogger.) I have to wonder if the KMT cut a back-room deal with the pink-shirted church jerks: bus your sheep parishioners to our rallies and get them to vote for us, and we'll make sure there's no change to the civil law. We don't actually care, but we want your votes so we'll throw them under the bus for you if you show up for us. 

It doesn't seem likely that the two pro-equality referendums will pass, simply because although at least 25% of the voting population supports them, a fair number are young and can't return 'home' to vote either because they can't afford it or they have to work. Of the big, soft center of Taiwanese society of decent folks who aren't opposed to equality, but aren't passionately for it, I worry that many just won't vote, or will vote for the anti-equality referendums because they've been tricked by those horrible church people.

But, if we do win, the church people aren't going away. We won't have really beat them until we change the civil code and normalize equality to the point that they won't be able to get support for changing it back.

If we lose, there are a few things to take comfort in.

First, that the old out-vote the young, because the young are busy and broke. Even if the anti-equality referendums pass and the pro-equality ones don't, that won't be a complete reflection of Taiwanese society.

Second, they may be trying to put a barrier in our way - ironically making life more difficult for the next generation while braying about how they are trying to "protect" the youth - but the youth of Taiwan overwhelmingly support marriage equality, and while people may grow more conservative as they age, that's never struck me as a view that tends to change once someone realizes equality is right. Those old church people will die - some of them soon, because they're old - and their legacy will not live on. It's too late for that. This particular arc of justice may be long, but its trajectory is pretty set.

Third, even if we do lose, there will be some form of civil partnership by May next year. That doesn't satisfy me - inequality is still inequality and it's not good enough - but it's a step, and then we keep fighting.

What worries me on this end is that politically, Taiwan stands to benefit a great deal from equality: think of the headlines once it actually goes through! It's been great PR for this country already, and started to wake the world up to the ways in which Taiwan is a bastion of (comparative - in certain ways only) liberalism in Asia. The longer we delay that, the worse it will be for Taiwan. And if we delay too long and are not, in fact, the first country in Asia to pass actual marriage equality, we'll lose a huge opportunity to make massive global headlines. All those pro-independence greens who say they want the world to notice Taiwan as Taiwan, but who are conservative and maybe even Christian (the DPP has strong ties to the Presbyterian church) are shooting themselves in the foot, and they don't even seem to realize it. We not only need to do this soon for the sake of LGBT people, we need to be the first in Asia for Taiwan's political sake.

And finally, it's not particularly clear to me that the results of any of these referendums are binding (I've heard people say they are, and that they aren't, and I've been too mired in school work to research it on my own.)

So, whatever happens tomorrow, the march toward equality in Taiwan continues, and there will be progress. There has already been progress: from a few years ago when the anti-equality side was trying to stop any sort of civil partnership for LGBT people and attempting to paint them as moral degenerates, to now when even the anti-gay camp being forced to support some sort of civil partnership law, the conversation has changed. If we lose, we can't accept the bottom line of the church people, but we have shown that the conversation can keep changing.

100,000 or so people showed up to Ketagalan Boulevard this past Sunday for a pop-and-metal-star filled afternoon of music and cheering, when estimates had been for a far smaller crowd. It was bigger than the rally for any of the Taipei mayoral candidates, and bigger than anything the anti-equality crowd has been able to put together. Interestingly - from my perspective anyway - the way marriage equality has been approached in Taiwan feels unique. I can't imagine, before it became a nationwide law in the US, a pro-equality rally featuring a black metal band as one of its most famous acts. I guess in the US we just don't Metal For Our Rights (to quote a friend). I sat through the whole thing writing my paper while splayed out on the pavement, protesting and doing my homework at the same time...and I have never felt more Taiwanese.

In any case, we draw crowds. We change conversations. We push forward. The generation that is on its way out is the last generation that will keep us from marriage equality in Taiwan. Even if they win this battle, they have emphatically lost the war.

That doesn't make me happy per se, but it's keeping me away from the bottle tonight.


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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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Parsing Tsai on Marriage Equality



As the Legislative Yuan exits recess with marriage equality hot - I hope - on the docket, many have been wondering what the deal is with Tsai's mealy-mouthed, congee-like "support"-ish words for something she so clearly supported more strongly on the campaign trail.

A lot of news and analysis has come out on this issue in recent days, and it's worthwhile to gather it together and see what it says as a whole.

What I see is this: I honestly believe that Tsai personally supports marriage equality. One of the reasons why it became such an issue in 2016 is that she made it such a central issue of her campaign - the first major presidential candidate ever to do so (I don't know if any minor candidates had done so in the past). She didn't have to do that - Ma's low popularity and black-box bullshit had pretty much assured the DPP a win in 2016 - but she did it anyway. I simply do not see that as having been possible without her personally holding that view.

It is also clear that Tsai is deeply pragmatic, which at times can imbue her persona with something akin to a frosted amorality: I do believe that if she thinks a solution that is not exactly moral is the most practical, she will pursue it regardless of what's truly right or her own personal beliefs. Obama displayed this tendency too, in his Middle East policy - frankly, most politicians can be like this. I could see her backing away from marriage equality and either getting wishy-washy on the topic because it suits her interests and goals, or supporting a lesser bill (such as a civil partnership bill) because she thinks it will cost her less politically.

While it is important on some level for the president to be personally in favor of doing what's right, I'm not entirely sure it matters in a big-picture sense, however. If she weighs her options and decides that she can win re-election and take the least political losses by abandoning marriage equality, she will. So, what should matter is not what she thinks, but what she does.

Unfortunately, her actions have been disappointing. Some news items on the matter, however, have been unclear: she reportedly told one activist, Vincent Huang, that "you may never live to see marriage equality" (or something to that effect - it's really not clear) when he pointed out that he and others could not put their lives on hold. However, the transcript of that talk seems to refute this. 

Why bring it up at all if that's not what Tsai said? Because I want to point out something she did say according to the official transcript that merits attention:

Huang: "But our lives can't be put on hold."
President Tsai: "I know, but even if you can't put your lives on hold you need to consider the future of other people as well and think of them as well."

YO BACK THAT TRUCK UP.

What is that supposed to mean? That the superstitions, religious dogma and delicate sensitivities of anti-equality protesters are just as important as Huang and others having equal rights? That people who currently lack equality should spare a thought for those who want to keep it from them, even though obtaining equality would not hurt those people in the slightest, but would be a great boon to the LGBT+ community?

How can one say, in 2017, that someone else's fears and anxieties over an expansion of rights that won't affect them at all are just as important and worthy of consideration as the rights themselves and what they would mean to the group that seeks to gain them?

I'm sorry, but it's preposterous to even suggest that the direct effect of this issue on the lives of same-sex couples is no more important than someone else's sanctimonious "feelings" on the matter, and that the LGBT+ community and their supporters should show more sensitivity to them than they have ever shown us. As though their anxiety and fear of being made even slightly uncomfortable equates with your not having access to one of the most fundamental societal institutions. As though pseudo-science should be considered on an equal level with real science.

The reason given for this statement appears to be the same reasoning behind her meeting with proponents and opponents of marriage equality to listen to "both sides" - to listen to different views. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, except that in this particular debate, one side wants to deprive another of equal rights - rights that, should same-sex couples gain them, would not affect opponents in the slightest. We have listened to them enough - throughout history we have had to listen to them. Their views are well-known; there is no reason to give them yet another venue to express them. Another reason not to go through this farce: their science is clearly false. They have no evidence beyond their own fears and superstitions. Their social beliefs are religiously motivated (most opponents of marriage equality in Taiwan identify with a religious group of some sort; those who support equality are far more likely to be religiously unaffiliated). If you believe that members of one religion should not have the right to impose their beliefs on an entire society - and I do - there is no basis for continuing to give their views equal weight.

I do understand that some anti-equality religious groups genuinely feel they're not being listened to, or that they are being attacked, and they have fears that, to them, are real. On that level I can understand the motivation to talk to them openly.

However, I just have to say this: as I pointed out above, we've been listening to them forever. What they want is basically already law. They've pretty much had the floor for most of human civilization and gotten their way. It seems pretty clear to me that when the marriage equality movement started being taken seriously around the world activists in the movement did try to talk rationally to conservatives (who started out being in the strong majority). I don't think the movement would have gotten this far if they hadn't. LGBT+ people and their allies have spent literally decades laying the groundwork by doing this. There is a point when, if anti-equality believers have not been persuaded by rational discussion and good science, on some level they don't want to be. If they feel they are being attacked after decades of getting their way, simply because their views are no longer majority views, then on some level they want to feel attacked. If they feel nobody is listening when more than half the history of the movement, in every country where it's taken hold, has been about listening and discussion, then on some level they want to insist that unless they are being obeyed, they are not being listened to. This is one movement that, due to fear, superstition, irrational yet entrenched norms and straight up bigotry, might never have gone anywhere if it hadn't started with advocates being friendly, approachable and rational.

So, I find that whole "we are being attacked" line of thinking disingenuous. At this point, they have been listened to, and harsher criticisms have only been fairly recent, in response to their sheer intransigence. If they still insist on that fear and anger, on some level, it's because they want to. I am not sure what rational discussion can do that hasn't already been accomplished with those who think this way.

Finally, simply looking at support for marriage equality should be evidence enough. The key takeaway from the survey linked above is that, at approximately 40% in favor and 27% opposed, despite representing a plurality rather than a majority of the population, the consensus of Taiwanese is in support. If you take that 40% or so and group it with undecided respondents, it forms a very strong majority. Attendees to various pro- and anti-equality rallies seem to confirm this: the pro-equality numbers appear to be consistently larger despite the better organizational and networking capability, through church networks, of the anti-equality crowd.

It is folly, then, to give the two sides equal weight as though their views are truly equal. It is also folly to pretend that society is perfectly divided on the issue - it's not.

I also worry that her words - including, in one Facebook post, that "there is no need for total conflict between family values and equal rights" (link in Chinese)- can be interpreted in some very troubling ways. I would love for this to mean that she does not feel that marriage equality is an assault on Taiwanese values (and it's not). However, it could just as easily be taken to mean that, if it would foster more agreement between supporters and opponents, that she'd sell out marriage equality for the lesser accomplishment of not-quite-marriage, separate-but-equal civil partnerships so as not to anger the delicate sensitivities of a few anti-equality agitators.

She knows this - she must. Therefore I have to agree that the meeting was a stalling tactic. 

This leads me to believe that Tsai has decided that stalling on marriage equality is safer politically than adhering to her own campaign rhetoric (as a friend pointed out, I do not believe she ever actively endorsed or promised legislation - her language on the matter began and ended with her personal views. Still, the change in overall tone does feel hypocritical, as though she's unaware that we're aware that we may have been duped).

I'm not sure why this is: she won in great part due to the support of the youth, a group she may not win again, or may not win so handily, if she does not deliver on an issue that is important to them. One wonders if she realizes exactly how many votes she stands to lose simply for coming across as a two-timer on this issue, or if she fully understands that the support of the electorate is worth more than the support of a few powerful church organizations (if events in recent years have proven anything when it comes to Taiwanese politics, if you listen to powerful special interests over the people, the people will hold you to account).

The sheer lack of sense in this whole approach leads me to wonder what caused the sudden freeze-up. What caused clear words of support to turn into so much gooey rice porridge political nothingness? We know the churches, with the help of American hate groups, in Taiwan are powerful and wealthy, but are they truly this powerful and wealthy, enough that Tsai would risk angering a larger number of voters to appease the smaller numbers in their networks? What exactly is she scared of, and why? Does she really believe that promising dumplings and delivering tasteless congee is going to be enough to get the youth to come back out for her? Does she think that this sort of empty "let's listen to both sides" rhetoric and "I'll do whatever the legislature recommends" backsliding is going to be received without comment or backlash? Has she seen what has happened in the past year to other establishment politicians who tried such tactics thinking they would work in today's political climate? She's not stupid, so what is she thinking exactly?

Does she realize that, while civil partnerships would be a step forward, that they are not going to satisfy this segment of society?

If I haven't been clear enough already, let me highlight this point: if Tsai doesn't get her act together on marriage equality she will lose the youth vote. 

Full stop, no hedging. She will lose it, and there are more of them than there are of the religious folks. I deeply, sincerely hope she realizes this. In modern, democratic Taiwan if you don't listen to the people, you get burned. 

A lot of people (well, mostly other expats) have been asking the ardent activists to give Tsai a chance. She has a lot on her plate, from the economy to China to transitional justice to labor and pension reform. I get it. But her approach to marriage equality, then, ought to have been "I support this. I'm also working on these other things, but I am open to seeing this progress", rather than the halfhearted stalling and feinting that impresses nobody and is already starting to turn off the youth and progressive voters. I gave her time - I didn't expect that marriage equality would make it through the legislature in 2016, but I see no reason why it shouldn't pass in 2017 and I am not impressed with how Tsai is handling the process. It's not the time, per se - we get that these things take time. It's how she's comporting herself on this issue that is worrisome.

It's taking a lot of time - time enough for a hearty bowl of rice to be boiled down into icky, sticky congee.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why isn't the labor movement drawing the crowds it should?

There was an interesting piece in Taiwan News recently about why marriage equality, not the labor movement, is attracting demonstrators and catching the public eye. I would especially like to learn more about traditionally Taiwanese representations of gayness as I know basically nothing about it.

I don't agree with every conclusion - in fact, although marriage equality impacts a small segment of the population, it affects that segment in a huge way, and is something of a social litmus test for the kind of country Taiwan wants to be.

I do not think allowing bigots to score a point by allowing civil partnerships is the answer: first, because I don't believe in giving in to bigots (could you imagine telling, say, African Americans to compromise with racists during the Civil Rights Movement and accept less than full equal rights? This suggestion doesn't feel different), especially when they are a small minority with outsize influence that it's time we cut down, and secondly because it's a straight-up human rights issue.

So, I cannot accept the conclusion that we need to let marriage equality go and focus on labor: in fact, I think we should ramp up marriage equality, get it passed quickly, and then focus on labor. I am not a fan at all of the argument that we should delay conferring full civil rights on a group because they happen to be a small group and because some bigots don't like it. I do not think a new law - rather than amending the civil code - will bring about the realization that marriage equality is okay, leading to later change in the code. It'll get stuck there. We'll try to push for the civil code to be changed, only to be told "but we HAVE marriage equality, can't you just accept that and move on?" The bigots will not stop being bigots, they'll bring out the same old fight. It'll be a bureaucratic nightmare, a postponement of the real battle. I'm not into that, sorry.

My views, however, mean little - I can't vote and I can't organize. It's what the Taiwanese are inspired by that counts. I have a few anecdotal thoughts for why labor is not attracting crowds but marriage equality is:

The marriage equality crowd is a young crowd, many of whom do not intend to accept jobs with poor working conditions when they graduate. 

This is the generation that gets involved in public life, that goes abroad, that starts their own business, that goes freelance, that moves back to their hometown to open a cafe or run their family business. Some of them are surely on the naive side, thinking they have an escape route from the hell that is a typical job in Taiwan, and some will likely come to regret their idealistic assumptions. For many, however, that is a fuzzy eventuality, a gray cloud on the horizon. They have gay friends now, this means more to them.

Turton is right about one thing, though: marriage equality is cool and trendy and progressive, but labor movements often call to mind the sad reality that most of us eventually end up working for The Man. They're not young, hip or cool (and, as the article also got right, they don't tap into an identity one can display through consumption). When you either don't want to think about your eventual working life, or don't think it will happen to you because you'll never be stuck in some interminable cube monkey job, your heart is just not going to be in a labor protest.

I just don't happen to think all of that identity-broadcasting done by demonstrating for marriage equality is necessarily a bad thing. We all do things to display our identity. I do it, Turton does it, we all do it. For some, it really is a representation of who they are (if you're gayer than a Christmas tree and act like it, then is that not authentic rather than an identity you have chosen to display through consumption? If you really are someone whose fire gets lit by human rights causes, as I am, are you not being authentic in displaying that identity even if through consumerist means?

This is about more than just being fashionable, or a way to display an identity

A friend pointed this out, and I agree. Yes, there is consumption, identity display and some amount of being attached to a fashionable cause when it comes to marriage equality, but 250,000 people don't turn out on a Saturday for that reason alone. It is far more than the core LGBT+ fighting for equal rights and other activists passionate about the cause, and shows a deeper engagement than just being trendy or hip. You might get a few of those, but you don't get 250,000, especially when they were not brought out by tight, cohesive church networks the way the anti-equality folks were with their far smaller numbers, if it's just people showing off how cool and progressive they are. People do care, there is real support, and it does go deeper than strutting around in order to cement an identity for oneself.

Honestly, the labor movement doesn't get the word out effectively. 

I don't know about you guys, but I always hear about marriage equality events well in advance, and can plan to attend them. Labor protests? I read about them the next day from Brian Hioe, or see them happening when I am already in my pajamas. I don't know until it's too late that I could have been there. I don't know how they hope to attract more people if people don't even know something is going on.

Marriage equality seems solvable, labor issues do not

I think a lot of activists know they have society and even much of the government on their side in the marriage equality debate. They know this is winnable. They know it's winnable soon - a big victory in a short time over an opponent that is outmatched. The fight against the Boss Class will be a long, grueling, interminable one with a huge amount of media, money, crony capitalists, corrupt politicians and straight-up asshats bearing down on them. It will be another Sunflower Movement, if we let it get that far (and I do think labor has the potential to be that, but few seem to agree) - an angry group of activists up against insane odds. Perhaps the nation is still a bit hungover from the last big movement, and wants a break, to achieve something that can actually be done.

Hell, the New Power Party has a pretty strong labor platform (though as always I do not agree with their past resistance to relaxing the laws governing foreign workers), and they can't seem to get anywhere. If they can't bring the crowds, or effectively stand up to the Boss Class, how can anyone?

Marriage equality, though? Dude, we can do that.

It's not really clear, due to deliberate muddling, what the labor movement really means or stands for

Which labor movement are we even talking about? The one opposed to pension reform? The tour guide protest? The fakey-fake "Sunflower imitation" protests the KMT organizes because it just does not get civil society at all? Or the real labor protests? It's easy to be confused. I often have to think hard about a demonstration - if I even know it's going to happen - to see if this is a group I actually agree with, or just more civil servants unhappy about pension reform when most workers in the private sector don't even have pensions, or only nominally do. The labor movement needs to clarify who they are, what they want and who they are not, or they're just not going to bring the crowds.

Workers themselves seem to vacillate between grumbling about the situation - and I agree that it is dire - and talking about how "this is just the way things are", not complaining, not talking to their bosses, not going to the company to air grievances. If workers won't even tell their bosses what they don't like, how can we expect them to get riled up enough to protest? And how can we expect others to come out on behalf of them when they won't stand up for themselves at work?

The fight for more vacation days was, to be honest, uninspiring

I'm sorry, I just can't work up a lot of screaming, placard-waving enthusiasm over keeping Chiang Kai Stupid Shek's Stupid Birthday. I know a vacation day is a vacation day and I shouldn't fret so much, but...I just can't get over that. I don't know about the rest of the Taiwanese public, but it's not a galvanizing message.

Add to that the fact that we've only had these extra seven days for one year: in the past ten years in Taiwan I never had those days off, and suddenly I do. It's very confusing, and I don't feel passionately about keeping them because they sort of randomly appeared this year rather than being something I'm used to that fits into the rhythm of the year.

So, it just doesn't seem like a smart route to go in terms of igniting a fire in people to come out and fight.

It is uninspiring to fight for better labor laws when the ones we have are not enforced. 

A friend brought up this point (and the point above about workers who don't complain) and I agree enough to include it. Sure, we need better laws, but what good is it if the ones we already have are more or less never enforced? Who cares if a new law limits overtime if you can't get your boss to abide by the current laws regulating overtime? What are we fighting for, exactly?

That young marriage equality crowd has free time, workers just have stress

...and workers generally do not.

Those that do face family pressure - always a big deal here - to keep their shitty job and not rock the boat, or to 'take what you can get'. It's a society that is very accepting of market trends in terms of how workers are treated - in the US the left screams and howls, rightfully so, when capitalists say that a fair wage is the lowest wage someone is willing to work for, but Taiwan is far more accepting of this explanation. Something about that "this is the best we can do, this is the market, we have to accept it" attitude has to change.

Workers are also less idealistic. They've done jobs, they know how the world is and how most of us eventually get sucked in (for the record, I'm in my 30s and have still managed to not get sucked in, but I may well die old and poor). They are often focused on themselves and their families - by then, most have them - and improving their own lot rather than fighting for the betterment of all. This is another attitude we have to change.

In the meantime, though?

Honestly, you'll find me in the street, rainbow flag in hand.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Reader, I cried.

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There are plenty of articles out there on the nuts and bolts of today's marriage equality rally: estimates are that 250,000 attended (and also that the "200,000" number quoted for the anti-equality rally was misleading: that was the total for every event across the country, not the demonstration downtown, which was more like 100,000 it seems). I personally feel, based on no scientific principles whatsoever, that it was more. I was at the protest against the military after Hong Zhongqiu's death - I remember estimates of 200,000 - this was more. I was at the Sunflowers, which was reported as 100,000 (but was well-known to be more like 400,000). This sure felt like more.

At that protest, we were able to walk up to the Jingfu Gate and more or less walk around - this time it was impossible to do that (we ended up seated near it only because we showed up on the early side). When I walked back to NTU Hospital to use the bathroom, I looked down Zhongshan Road away from the center of the rally, towards Zhongxiao - and I'm telling you, I could not see the end. It just kept going.

Edited to add: I've somewhat changed my mind on this after seeing the aerial photos. During the Sunflowers Xinyi Road was backed up to about a quarter of the way down the side of CKS and there were crowds in front of CKS as well. That was not the case this time - the center was more crowded but Xinyi and the area right in front of CKS were perhaps less so.

I'm not sure it matters, though, and don't take my word for it. If the anti-equality crowd was about 100,000 in Taipei, and we hit 250,000, we dwarfed them.

And yes, it matters.

They'll tell you that most attendees were young - this is true, though I did see some aunties and uncles and a few grandparental older folks around.

They'll tell you the numbers decisively outclassed the Bigot Rally last weekend.

They'll tell you that people from all major political parties spoke - the DPP, the NPP and Jason Hsu of the KMT (who, as KMT folks go, is not a bad dude. Perhaps delusional about his own party, but otherwise he's basically okay).

They will also tell you that Taiwan is poised to be the first country in Asia to legalize marriage equality, and that the final reading of the bill (there are three in question but the attendees today specifically support the one that would amend the language of the Civil Code rather than be appended to it, and certainly not a third bill proposing civil partnerships) is the day after Christmas.

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That's all necessary information, but it's all already available, so I wanted to offer perhaps a more emotional reaction to this event.

This never had to be my fight. I'm straight and married. I could have easily stayed home and said it really wasn't my issue. It doesn't affect me directly (but, through my friends, it does affect me in a way). I came out because it was the right thing to do. If there's one thing my mom, who will have passed away 2 years ago this Monday, taught me, it's that you do things because they're the right thing to do, even if they don't have to be your fight. My mom was an activist and involved person in her community, as well as a big-hearted, generous and liberal person. I felt like I was carrying a touch of her spirit with me - at least if I believed in spirits, which I don't - by attending an event to support equal rights simply because it is the right thing to do, and for no other reason.

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I've heard from others, too, that they had 'cry moments', or were getting misty-eyed. For a lot of people, it must have been really wonderfully overwhelming to see that their fellow citizens do, in fact, support them. Others were just blown away by the love, inclusiveness and camaraderie. I had mine too.

I have to say as I exited NTU Hospital MRT station and saw, before the event's start time of 1pm, that it was already packed, I had my first emotional reaction. This is really happening, I thought. Enough people are going to come out to support equality. We're really going to do this. 

As I met my friends and we walked toward Ketagalan Boulevard, I misted up again several times - just watching how big it was, how many people felt that not only should they quietly support marriage equality, but that they needed to come out in person to show the legislature how popular the idea really is. 


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I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Often when I visit the US, I am asked about Taiwan with this assumption that it is a conservative country (if people asking can differentiate it from China or Thailand in any case). It's in Asia, which Westerners often associate with 'conservative'. It continues many traditions that have died out in China - which is not to say that Chinese culture is "preserved" in Taiwan as many like to claim, rather, these cultural elements have evolved to be uniquely Taiwanese - and religious practice has very deep and traditional roots here. There is no concept of the existence of a young Taiwanese Left (or of a society that simply is not that conservative), or that that left might have some striking similarities to the American Left. To this end, imagine my frustration when trying to explain something like the fight for marriage equality or even the Sunflowers to someone who has no concept of these movements in a non-Western context, or rather no room for them in their preconceived notions of what any given Asian country is like.

Even when I try to show, based on real evidence (poll numbers, social issues, civic activism), that there is a vibrant and popular Taiwanese Left that can now be said to outnumber the right, it's been dismissed because it doesn't fit their concept of a 'traditional Asian society'. Liberal causes can't be that popular, it's a traditional society. It can't be that progressive, it's Asia after all. 

I've heard this from a few expats in Taiwan who are opposed to equality (they do exist - I've come across at least three of them) - that foreigners in Taiwan are trying to force ideas onto a culture that is different from their own, against the wishes of the Taiwanese. No attention paid, it seems, to polls which consistently show majority support for marriage equality.

I hear this from Taiwanese who are opposed to change as well. It's not our culture, please respect our cultural differences, Taiwan is more conservative. 

Except, obviously, it's not. A quarter of a million Taiwanese would not have come out to support marriage equality, decisively crushing the numbers that came out to stand for reactionary ideals and anti-equality, if equality were not an integral part of Taiwanese culture. The fact that so many people were there at all speaks for itself - QED.

So coming out today and seeing hard evidence, by the numbers, that in fact equal rights is important to the people of Taiwan, liberal causes are popular, and people will show up made me a bit misty-eyed. I wasn't just trying to twist reality to fit my worldview - this is real. The enthusiasm is real. You could feel it - it wasn't angry, tight-lipped, prayerful, admonishing or dismissive (and outright threatening to outsiders, including journalists) in the way that the anti-equality rallies have been - it was warm, open, loving, and welcoming.

But what really got me was textual evidence of all of this:


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I'm not going to lie - I am really happy I was not with my friends when I saw this. Something about this sign struck me like an arrow - I love the reclaiming of identity as people begin to call themselves "Formosan" to distance themselves from the "Chinese Provincial" sound that has unfortunately come to be associated with the name "Taiwan" for some. I love the historical callbacks not only to the Portuguese name, from a time before Chinese meddling (and a great deal of Chinese emigration), but to the short-lived and unrecognized Republic of Formosa and - at least in Chinese - to the Kaohsiung Incident. It was striking if you stopped to think about it, truly.

It could have been that, or perhaps the plainspoken sincerity and full-throated civic engagement in the semantics of "respect for basic human rights" and "We the people".

Or it could have just been that I'd been there all day, feeling all the feels and this sign was the spark that lit the underbrush.

At the time, I had been thinking about how the anti-equality church groups mobilized their people by getting congregations to go together: it was very much a group effort done through networks. Individuals may have chosen not to attend - and I have Taiwanese Christian friends who never would have attended an anti-equality event - but it's easier to be pulled into going when your entire  congregation goes. I considered that, and how such mobilization brought them about 200,000 in total (100,000 of which were in Taipei). I compared that, then, to how so many people who came to stand up for what is right did so of their own accord. Perhaps friends influenced friends, and the LGBT and activist networks were buzzing - Facebook was on fire in the days leading up to it, but then my Facebook feed wouldn't have had any of the anti-equality buzz - but in the end, it didn't take congregations grouping together to get the most numbers. It took lots of people who, on their own, decided they needed to physically show up and put their bodies on the street to show the government what is right. We didn't have church networks, but we crushed them, decisively, simply because it was the right thing to do. That was what was going through my mind.

Either way, I walked by this particular placard and I won't lie. Little tears - the good kind - started pricking at my eyes and a few ran down my cheeks. It wasn't quite an ugly cry, but had you looked, you would have noticed.

All in a good way, but odd for someone who does not cry very often, and almost never does so in public.

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It's also worth pointing out that Pride, which attracted about 80,000 people, was very foreigner-heavy (though the majority was still Taiwanese). This was not - there were non-citizens there like me, but we were specks in a crowd. It needs to be this way, I think: Taiwan needed to show that the Taiwanese, and not foreign influence, were the driving force behind the push for equality.

That said, I do think it's important, if you're into this sort of thing, to attend rallies and protests for causes you care about as a resident. We have, by law, the right of assembly. It is one of the only rights to participate in the process that we are granted, even if we consider Taiwan to be our permanent home. So, we can and should take advantage of it. However, had this been a very foreigner-heavy event, the opposition could have easily used that to their advantage, pegging marriage equality as a 'foreign issue'.

Today, we showed the world that this is very much a Formosan issue.

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I think this video really says it all. If you want to cry too, go ahead and watch it. I appear at some point, a clip from the longer video I linked to on Thursday night. I said something like, Taiwan is a place that accepts all kinds of people. [The Taiwanese spirit] is a spirit of freedom. It's a spirit of equal rights.

And that's really it - Taiwan proved today that this is exactly the case. The Taiwanese spirit is not one of discrimination, separation, dogma, inequality or exclusion. The Taiwanese spirit is the spirit of democracy and acceptance of different backgrounds, people and lifestyles (whether they are chosen or biologically wired).

This is why I am confident that the Taiwanese will push their elected legislature - which serves the people, not the churches that represent less than 5% of the people - to do the right thing on December 26th.

Because it is simply the right thing to do.

In the end, perhaps that's what brought on the tears for so many of us.


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What can I say - we did good. Taiwan did good. We made it right after all of those anti-equality protests, and showed them, the legislature, President Tsai and the world what Taiwan is really about. It was inspiring.

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I only just now realized that I totally got photobombed. Can you see it?

Anyway, enjoy some pictures:


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NPP Legislator and former Sunflower leader Huang Guo-chang speaks


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Some religious haters said 'if we allow same-sex marriage, what's to stop us from allowing people to marry Ferris wheels?' This sign mocks that, saying "only Ferris wheels want civil partnerships" (meaning everyone else wants to amend the Civil Code and have real marriage equality). 
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Of course, the best thing about rallies and protests in Taiwan is the haul of fun stickers. The West has obviously not figured this out.