My weekend was a feast for the eyes. I saw men out in full drag, Japanese bears proudly donning their leather regalia, and gay couples holding hands and wearing rainbows around their necks, all in full view of the public.
It’s Taiwan LGBT Pride in Taipei, and although relatively young, it quickly became the biggest of its kind in Asia.
I was very moved by the vast droves of people, the active participation of those in attendance, and most of all, the sheer amount of diversity, love, and acceptance on display. The latter struck me as the most surprising, given my somewhat limited travelling experience in Asia. What I can say for certain is that the level of openness and freedom of sexual expression I’ve seen would rival anything I’ve experienced in the Western world, which is quite remarkable considering that in most Asian countries, pride is, at best, a limited affair if it even exists.
It’s easy to say that Taiwan is one of the most forward thinking countries in Asia for LGBT, but based on my own brief visit alone, I can definitely attest to this. I felt at ease and comfortable roaming the streets as an openly gay man. My own observations and small interactions with locals appeared to tell me that there is generally a live and let live mentality that’s allowed the gay community to push for movements like Pride to open doors and break down barriers to communication and raise social awareness for issues like coming out and same-sex marriage, which are still major cultural hurdles for the Asian LGBT community.
While I’m sure pockets of prejudice can easily be found in any part of society, I’m very much encouraged by the positivity that I’ve seen during my short stay. I feel a deeper sense of faith in humanity, and a promise of a better future ahead.
I look forward to it.