Taiwan held its 21st Gay Pride event in Taipei on Saturday, October 28, continuing a tradition of hosting Asia's largest visibility event for the LGBTQ+ community in the region, with about 170,000 participants this year.
Taiwan organized its first Pride in 2003 — the first in any Sinophone society — with an attendance of 20,000 people. It rapidly grew to 50,000 in 2011 and to 200,000 in 2019. The in-person event moved to online in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, returning to the streets of Taipei in 2021. Other cities, such as Kaohsiung in the south, also hold local Pride marches.
The 2023 edition in Taipei is estimated to have attracted 176,000 people from all over Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia — namely, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia, with few visitors from Europe and North America. According to the Taiwan Rainbow Civil Action Association, the group in charge of managing the event, this year's theme is “Stand with Diversity.” Taiwan passed same-sex marriage law in 2019 — the first in Asia — and added in 2023 bills and policies on cross-national same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption.
Yet diversity within the queer community, as well as outside of it, is not fully embraced. As the Taiwan Rainbow Civil Action Association notes:
Transgender issues are precisely put in a situation where the concept of dichotomous categorization is challenged and related debates oftentimes fall into polarization. Although transgender issues hold several facets to be explored (such as the unique difficulties transgender people face at school, in the workplace, or in daily life, along with issues about gender-friendly spaces), many people often target non-biological women and regard them as criminal, while framing the protection of transgender rights as an invasion of women’s spaces; this leads the public to be hostile to transgender people under the pretext of “safeguarding women's rights,” and to adopt rhetoric that spreads fear and derision against transgender women.
For more, read A deep dive into Taiwan's drag scene ahead of Pride 2023
As Taiwan will hold presidential and legislative elections in January 2024, several political parties also marched in the Pride parade, including members from the Green Party, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the New Power Party, hoping to secure votes from the community.
Despite the unusually cool temperature and initial rain, Pride showed all its colors and diversity as can be seen in this photo essay.
Here on the right is an homage to Taiwanese traditions of honoring deities, as can be seen in many local temples. Taiwan was also a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945 and Japanese culture remains prominent on the island. Queer Japanese also come to participate in the Pride as they have less visibility in Japan.
Bodies of all shapes were present in the Pride, as can be seen in the following photos:
Women were, of course, present, though in comparatively smaller numbers.
Dogs, dog-lovers, and human pups were also marching proudly.
For Malaysian queers, Taiwan represents a space for safety and freedom, as homosexuality is considered a crime in their country.
But the main point of Pride is to come as you are and celebrate!