“Fun Together” Despite the Weather
I sometimes have to pinch myself when I realise that a country which until around 1990 had been under military rule for more than 40 years is now holding East Asia’s largest Gay Pride Parade – by far. Indeed, apart from the one in Jerusalem, Taipei’s has been the biggest in Asia almost since its debut 14 years ago. This year more than 80,000 turned out last Saturday to celebrate their gayness or their identification with the LGBT community.
Most of Taiwan’s cites have their own Parades, but Taipei’s is special and so attracts many from all over the island. I also saw groups from Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand – and I am sure there were lots more. The circuit parties which take place over the Pride weekend, the amazing WOOW Pool Party, the gay pubs, clubs, saunas and hot springs were all jam-packed with many nationalities – most of them young, gym-fit and looking fabulous!
One reason I believe for the success of Taipei’s Parade is the result of its being organized by individuals. Too often, as in the case of Bangkok’s ill-fated Parades in the early 2000s, commercial gay organizations are behind Pride Parades and too quickly become the visible focus for the media. In Taipei, there is indeed an organizing committee, but taking part feels much more like being with a huge group of friends just having a massive party on a fun afternoon.
Each year the Parade weekends have an important social message regarding LGBT issues. This year, though, the organizers decided to play down any political or social justice messages and instead just have a “Fun Together: Honor Diversity Like You Mean It” weekend.
With so many taking part, the Parade itself is split into two routes. Streets are not blocked off from traffic or pedestrians, meaning a lot of care has to be taken with crowd control. But the Parade then becomes a part of community life – not an isolated group of marchers. At the end of the Parade, many revellers stay behind for a post-Parade on-site party.
This year Taipei has seen several major typhoons and a massive amount of rain. On the four days leading up to the Parade, the city enjoyed an Indian summer with the sun again beating down. Unfortunately the clouds returned overnight on Friday and the temperature dropped as an early surge of the winter monsoon quickly blew in. Not that that stopped any from attending. The only unfortunate result was the absence of the usual sizeable and scantily clad Speedo and Aqux brigade.
All was fine until about half way through the Parade when the rain, initially just a very light drizzle, got heavier and the sky darker. Few seemed to care as everyone was just having a great time. Hopefully next year the weather will be as sunny as it has been for the last half dozen years.
Been to Taiwan or have a Taiwanese boyfriend? Please post your comments below
Contributed by Callum McLeod who has been a regular visitor to Taiwan for many years.