Taiwan’s 13th LGBT Pride took place last Saturday, October 31, 2015. With its theme, “Act who you are, not your age”, the parade was reportedly attended by around 80,000 people according to pinknews.co.uk. The theme communicates age-related issues such as how our everyday self-expressions are hindered by social norms associated with age, sex, and gender. It called on everyone to reflect on how these norms restrain us from expressing our true selves.
A brief history
Taiwan’s first parade was in 2003 where more than 50 LGBT individuals started their march at the 228 Peace Memorial Park (previously known as Taipei New Park). As it recruited more and more LGBT groups and got support from various social movements, Taiwan pride was recognized as one of the largest in South Asia, if not in the whole of Asia. In addition, Taiwanese and non-Taiwanese alike experience three (3) more parades each year apart from the Taiwan LGBT Pride in Taipei. The other pride parades are known as the Kaohsiung LGBT pride Parade, Hualien LGBT Pride and the Taichung Pride parade that are organized by local LGBT communities with support from local and regional community partners.
The LGBT Pride Parade is seen as an important strategy that allows the community to send their message across each year to the authority and to the society in general. Each theme basically responds to the issues LGBT people face such as anti-discrimination, marriage equality, civil partnership, human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQIA with multiple minority identities, among others where they strive to create more dialogues.
Currently, Taiwan LGBT Pride is spearheaded by Taiwan Rainbow Citizen’s Action Association (a non-profit corporation). Interestingly, the Taiwan LGBT Pride Community maintains an account where people can donate for next year’s parade. They have also found a way for people to donate where purchases made at any shop that issues electronic receipt can be donated to Taiwan LGBT Pride community by simply telling the cashier that one would like to use the Charity code “2003”.
Pinoys in the parade
The Pride parade coincided with the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Asia Conference that was held in Taipei last October 28-30. As a gesture of solidarity, some participants opted to stay beyond the conference date to participate in the parade.
The Filipino participants were in awe of the size of the parade that, in order to accommodate everyone, the participants had to be divided into two groups that took two different routes going to the program venue. Mikee Inton of ILGA Secretariat said that the sheer volume was quite overwhelming. What she appreciates the most in the theme is the intersectionality between age and LGBTQIA discrimination. “I thought it was dominated by cisgender gay men,women were about a third of the participants. I thought transgender people were barely visible.”
Ging Cristobal of OutRight Action International said that the parade reflects diversity at its finest as the parade’s theme addresses issues of LGBTQIA of different ages. Both Mikee and Ging remarked that there should have been some attempt to translate the messages in English as there was a significant number of participants who could not understand the Chinese language.
Joy Cruz of STRAP (Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines) shared her experience claiming that the parade was dominated largely by gay men with few representations of transgender people. On the other hand, she commended the presence of non-LGBTQI people who were proudly waving their flags.
Jonas Bagas admires Taipei’s amazing community mobilization as they were able to amplify their strengths by tapping into their allies. ”It’s also interesting how they were strategic in terms of organizing and messaging, and there are so many lessons that Filipinos can learn from the pride movement in Taipei”, Bagas added.
For Bruce Amoroto, the 2015 Taipei Pride March will be one of those marches he will never forget not only because it’s the largest march he has been a part of but because it felt good to be with friends who are in the same fight: love. He is very happy about having a Filipino delegation and even if it was a Taiwan Pride, the Filipinos were able to bring the issue of passing the anti-discrimination bill.
Participating in the parade was a humbling experience. It made us realize how important collective action is in advancing our issues. Not only was there thousands who participated in the parade, we were amazed at the number of people who actually stayed for the program, something that we have been wishing to experience in the Philippines. Though the Philippines hold the record of being the first country to hold a pride march in Asia, there is so much that we can learn from Taiwan and the way they were able to enjoin more people to advocate for equality and non-discrimination. While we were holding our Philippine flag and some placards containing our messages, we were equally hopeful that someday there will be no need to hold parades like this because being LGBTQIA will no longer be an issue.
Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.