Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Taiwanese pride heads to New York

The Taipei Cultural Center organizes first US LGBTQ-focused arts program during LGBT Pride Month

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter in New York

A scene from the documentary Looking For?, by Chou Tung-yen. The film will be screened on Thursday in Manhattan as part of LGBT Pride Month.

Photo courtesy of Very Mainstream Studio

It wasn’t until 2012 that filmmaker Chou Tung-yen (周東彥) discovered something that made him feel, in his words, like “Alice in Wonderland.”

That something was gay dating apps, the subject of a recent documentary he filmed, Looking For? (你找什麼). It is set to be screened at the Taiwan Academy in Manhattan on Thursday, as part of the academy’s Pride Taiwan series for LGBT Pride Month.

Organized by the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Pride Taiwan aims to highlight the country’s leading role in advancing gender equality and freedom of speech in Asia, according to a news release from the center.

This marks the first time that Taiwan’s government has put together an LGBTQ-focused arts program in the US, it said.

Pride Taiwan will also feature readings of excerpts from The Possible Memoirs of a Traitor (叛徒馬密可能的回憶錄) by Chien Li-ying (簡莉穎) and Solo Date by Tsai Pao-chang (蔡柏璋), as well as a screening of Alifu, the Prince/ss (阿莉芙), directed by Wang Yu-lin (王育麟).


Looking For? tackles a question commonly raised on gay dating apps, though one sometimes not so easy for users to answer. Chou, the 36-year-old founder and director of Very Mainstream Studio & Very Theatre (狠主流多媒體), interviewed more than 60 men living in seven cities for his film.

He recalled the feeling of excitement he had when he first jumped into the world of gay dating apps, like Jack’d and Grindr, around six years ago. A friend showed Chou an app on his phone, which planted the seed for the documentary.

“I found myself puzzled and confused, and this frequently asked question meaningful,” he said. “At first, I thought they were asking me if I had lost anything. On the other hand, I also wondered if they were asking me about my life, like what do I look for in my life.”

Pride Taiwan runs from Today until Friday. Below is a list of events.


Pride Voices: New Plays from Taiwan. The event, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, will feature readings of excerpts from The Possible Memoirs of a Traitor and Solo Date. The Martin E Segal Theater Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York


Screening of Alifu, the Prince/ss, between 7pm and 9pm. Discussion with director Wang Yu-lin and Ron Gregg (Senior Lecturer, School of the Arts, Columbia University.) The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208 West 13th St, New York


Screening of Looking For?, between 7pm and 9pm. Discussion with director Chou Tung-yen and Ron Gregg (Senior Lecturer, School of the Arts, Columbia University). Taiwan Academy, 1 East 42nd St, New York


Screening of The Possible Memoirs of a Traitor, between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. Taiwan Academy, 1 East 42nd St, New York

The screening of Chou’s hour-long film in New York comes at a relevant time in Taiwan’s LGBT history. It was just last year the Council of Grand Justices ruled that the country’s Civil Code violated constitutional guarantees of freedom of marriage and equality. That code said an agreement to marry can only be made between a man and a woman.

Chou, who came out when he was in college, said he’d been in relationships with men who were schoolmates and also met one ex online through a dating Web site.

But with dating apps, Chou said he was curious about what everyone was looking for. So he chatted about that question with one of his studio interns, who worked for a gay community charity foundation in Taipei.

The intern told Chou that she had a bunch of friends who might be interested in speaking with him.

“I said, if I could film, that would be better, and they were so open to it,” Chou recalled.

Little by little, albeit in an unscientific way, Chou was introduced to more and more gay men in parts of Asia, Europe and the US, who were willing to talk about what they were “looking for” on dating apps.

One interviewee, identified as Michael Scoot in London, explained in the film how gays found dates before dating apps.

“In the past, gay people used to walk down the street and eye each other upon the pavement, and, you know, basically walk, turn around, look, make eye contact, and then walk toward each other,” he said.

Hsu You-sheng (許佑生), in New York City, described similar experiences.

“Back in the day, you had to make an effort to go to the sauna, to the park,” he said in the film. “Even in the earlier days, I went through a period of finding penpals. You had to wait to see if he would reply.”

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