Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 13 News List

The silent awakening

As the Taiwan LGBTQ Pride Parade grows in size every year, more people — both inside and outside the community — are speaking out, although many are still held back by social stigmas

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Tai says that activists like him see coming out as a private issue and will not try to pressure others to attend public events.

“It’s up to each individual to decide if they are prepared to handle being stigmatized by society,” Tai says. “So we are understanding toward those who don’t feel that they are ready.”

Tai says he knows many LGBTQ members who are open about their sexuality and think that they are helping other people by living without fear.

“If one person lives without reservations, then slowly other people will catch on. You have to start from yourself,” parade participant Wang Yu-ching (王郁清) says, noting that it’s her first time marching. “I never really thought about marching … but once I thought about it, then I couldn’t find any reason not to.”

Her girlfriend Wu Pei-ying (吳佩穎) is more vocal. “This is the easiest thing you can do. It’s easier than trying to explain LGBTQ rights to your friends. I feel if you support LGBTQ rights and you don’t show up, you’re being lazy.”

Some take it a step further. Before the parade in 2011, the Feng Chia University (逢甲大學) counseling center newsletter printed an article: “Silence is also a form of violence.”

Others take a softer tone.

“As long as you don’t discriminate against us, I feel like that’s enough support,” parade participant Tibao (帝寶) says.

Ultimately, Tai says that participating as a LGBTQ community member goes beyond just fighting for equality.

“Each person that goes public is telling other LGBTQ members that they are not alone, that we can bear this weight as a group and try to change the way things are. It’s also telling our heterosexual friends that there are homosexuals around you.”

EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS

Hsu Wei-hsiang (許煒翔) and Wu Chung-chuan (吳忠全) were unaware that the LGBTQ parade was going on until they happened to pass by. They both say they support LGBTQ rights and think that people should respect LGBTQ people, but they have few gay friends and have not had an opportunity to do anything about the issue.

“I would join if someone invited me and I had the time,” Wu says.

But when asked about other causes they cared about, both stated that they would be more willing to fight for environmental issues than LGBTQ rights.

As a sociology major in college, Tai says that people are generally drawn towards social causes that directly affect them. But in a way, LGBTQ rights do affect society as a whole as far as how people view sexuality, he says.

“Homosexuals are underprivileged because society has certain preconceptions against sexuality, homosexuality and sexual expression,” Tai says. “If we can get rid of some of these biases, this not only benefits homosexuals but society as a whole.”

The themes the parade chooses also affect the general public. This year’s topic is sex education — and Tai links that to the fact that people still commonly link the gay community to HIV/AIDS.

“From discussion on Facebook, it seems that straight people often use condoms just to prevent pregnancy,” Tai says. “They somehow don’t think they need to prevent diseases as well. This shows that more sex and gender equity education are needed.”

Ending discrimination also involves all of society as it affects how people view and treat people different from themselves, he adds.

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