Homophobia must be condemned

I had a short letter published in the Taipei Times today. The letter was written in response to a group of so-called religious leaders in Taiwan campaigning against same-sex marriage. The Taipei Times have also made the issue the subject of its editorial today.

I would also like to remind people of the positive example set by Ven. Chao-hwei (釋昭慧) who hosted a wedding for a lesbian couple at Hongshi Buddhist College last year. That is a true example of religious leadership.

I was disturbed to read of some Taiwanese religious leaders speaking out against same-sex marriage (“Same-sex marriage criticized,” Sept. 19, page 2). The claims they make about same-sex marriage and homosexuality are not only ridiculous, they are a form of hate speech.

The homophobic views being promoted by these religious organizations create hatred and division within society. They cause real harm to gay people who are the target of their attacks.

Fortunately not all religious groups in Taiwan share these extreme views. However, it is important that they condemn the words of these so-called religious leaders. A clear message needs to be sent that preaching homophobia is totally unacceptable.

David Reid

Rain cannot stop the LGBT Pride Parade

Four men at LGBT Pride in Taipei

An estimated 30,000 people joined the 8th annual Taiwan LGBT Pride (台灣同志遊行) march in the centre of Taipei yesterday. Light rain did not stop the crowds from coming out to march with the numbers up on last year. The march is said to be largest LGBT Pride event in Asia.

The theme for this year’s event was “Out & Vote” (投同志政策一票). Politicians in Taiwan often make promises about gay rights, but have failed to implement their promises or pass legislation to benefit the LGBT community. The Taipei Times has a good article giving some more background on some of the key issues. Continue reading

Loving out loud and proud

Tiger with rainbow flag at LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei

A beautiful sunny day greeted participants in the LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei today. Organisers estimated 25,000 people participated in the parade, an increase from 18,000 last year.

Rainbow balloons - Taipei LGBT Pride

The theme for this year’s parade was “Love Out Loud”. Participants marched in groups matching the colors of the rainbow. Red for sex, orange for power, yellow for hope, green for nature, blue for liberty and purple for art.Some of the groups participating included “Do the left thing”, the Green Party, Gay & Lesbian Couples Association and many university groups.

This year’s event called on the government to take action on anti-discrimination legislation. Politicians often make promises about gay rights before elections, but never follow through once they are elected. Continue reading

LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei

LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei, 27 September 2008

The 2008 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade was held in Taipei yesterday afternoon. Many people from Taiwan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community along with friends and supporters turned out for the parade. The Liberty Times (自由時報) reported that 18,000 people participated, an increase on last year’s event. Even the rainy weather associated with the approaching Typhoon Jangmi couldn’t keep the crowds away.

Rainbow flag on Zhongxiao East road as part of the 2008 Taiwan Gay Pride Parade

The parade started from Taipei City Hall and marched along Ren’ai and Anhe Roads and then back along Zhongxiao East Road. On Zhongxiao East Road a 90 metre long and 4.5 metre wide rainbow banner was unfurled. Continue reading

Spider Lilies kissing scene

kissing scene from the movie Spider Lilies featuring Rainie Yang and Isabella LeongSince I reviewed the Taiwanese movie Spider Lilies (刺青) about ten percent of traffic to this blog has been coming directly to the review. When I wrote the review I didn't put much emphasis on the fact that it is about a lesbian relationship. For me, the most resonant themes of the film were coming to terms with guilt and the burden of filial responsibilities. Perhaps a gay person's perspective might be somewhat different though. 

I did give thought to the fact that the homosexual relationship in the film would probably mean that it would have no chance of ever being released in China. The domestic market for Taiwanese films is quite small, but even a limited release in China could be potentially lucrative. The market for Chinese-language films is otherwise more or less limited to Hong Kong and Singapore. Even in Singapore Spider Lilies might attract the ire of the censors. 

Censorship is certainly not a problem here in Taiwan. Homosexuality is a surprisingly common theme in Taiwanese cinema. I also recently reviewed  Reflections (愛麗絲的鏡子) another movie about a lesbian relationship. Another Taiwanese movie released last year Eternal Summer (盛夏光年) was about a love triangle involving two men and one woman. And although it is not really a Taiwanese film, Brokeback Mountain was directed by Taiwanese film maker Ang Lee (李安). 

Spider Lilies' depiction of sex is quite tame. I was interested to come across a video on YouTube featuring a deleted french kissing scene between the movie's two stars Rainie Yang (楊丞琳) and Isabella Leong (梁洛施). The video showed part of the deleted kissing scene and a brief interview with the film's director Zero Chou (周美玲) and Rainie Yang. Some more of the deleted kissing scene and this French kissing scene can also be seen at YouTube.

In the video Zero Chou said she cut the kissing scene out because she was shy. Rainie Yang, who is obviously not quite as shy, said she hopes the kissing scene can be included on the DVD.

I think it is a shame that a director would feel this way although perhaps there were commercial pressures involved in the decision. I think the scene in Brokeback Mountain (see video at YouTube) where Jack and Ennis kiss on the stairs is an incredibly powerful piece of cinema. I think it reveals the depth and power of desire that the two men feel for each other more than any other moment in the film.

The more passionate kissing scene that was left out of the final edit of Spider Lilies could have made the film more powerful and resonant.

# photo from spiderlilies-movie.com