Thousands of people yesterday took to Taipei’s streets to support the 14th annual Taiwan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Parade.
Braving rainy weather, the crowd congregated on Ketagalan Boulevard before standard bearers joined the crowd with a large rainbow banner to lead the parade.
Participants in ordinary clothing brushed shoulders with those dressed up in outlandish costumes and radiant colors. Some portrayed anime characters while others dressed up as princesses.
Promenaders ambled along Renai and Xinyi roads, covering the areas between Zhongshan S and Xinsheng S roads, before heading in opposite directions on Xinsheng S Road and returning to the stage.
The themes of this year’s parade were “Fun together” and “Honor diversity, like you mean it,” meaning that the goal is to break through “fake friendliness,” or gestures that are actually discriminatory toward people of differing sexual orientations, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, intersexuals, queers and asexuals.
Event organizers called on legislators across party lines to pass a proposed amendment to the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage and urged participants to assist by making telephone calls to legislators in their constituencies who have not signed petitions to endorse the proposed amendment.
An American who identified himself as Prent said he came from Taichung to support the event.
Prent said he heard about Taiwan’s reputation as a gay-friendly nation while working in China and decided to move to Taiwan.
“It would be amazing if the legislature passes the amendment to become the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage, as it would likely inspire other Asian nations to follow suit and put Taiwan on par with Western democracies that have already done so,” he said.
Shu Kuge and Jared Braiterman, a gay couple living in Tokyo, said they came to Taipei just for the parade.
A number of Japanese attended yesterday’s parade, Kuge said, adding the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade is the biggest event of its kind in Asia and is well-known in Japan.
Kuge said the Taiwanese government seems more supportive of same-sex marriage than the Japanese government, so it would be “exciting” if bills regarding same-sex marriage are passed, as it would likely set an example for Japan.
While foreigners praised the nation’s friendliness toward homosexual people, a number of Taiwanese who attended the parade declined to be interviewed or reveal their first names.
A Taiwanese surnamed Wu (吳) said he had not made public that he is gay, because he believed Asians, especially older people, tend to be more conservative and unwelcoming to homosexuality.
A promenader who identified himself as Da Mao (大毛) said he would like to be married to his partner someday, but that he is worried that his parents and older relatives might not approve.
He said that society has come a long way in terms of friendliness toward homosexual people and he has not had to deal with discriminatory labels that were attached to him when he was younger.
However, some people still do not accept gay people, particularly those involved in intimate relationships, which means there is still room for improvement before society can truly bring down the barriers between people of different sexual orientations, he said.
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