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Mon, Feb 19, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Book reveals lesbian lives

STAFF WRITER

The sex lives of lesbian students at Taiwan's top high school for girls came under the spotlight yesterday following the publication of a book chronicling their experience.

The Taming and the Resistance (馴服與抵抗) is a collection of interviews with 10 lesbian women who graduated from the Taipei First Girls' Senior High School (北一女), all of whom later went on to study at Taiwan's top university -- National Taiwan University (NTU).

The interviewees, aged between 23 and 32 and appearing under pseudonyms in the book, also reveal how the school authorities suppressed the sexual orientation of lesbian students and how they found outlets to express themselves later in college.

Some of the book's subjects are founding members of Taiwan's first-ever lesbian society on campus -- the Lambda society (浪達社) at NTU.

Taipei First Girls Senior High has been one of Taiwan's top high schools since the Japanese era and was, until recently, considered conservative.

The book's author, Chang Chiao-ting (張喬婷), herself a graduate of both the school and NTU, said she has no intention of putting homosexuality in either institution under a magnifying glass.

Chang said she only wanted to reveal how mainstream values often try to "tame" homosexuals and how the women in the book resisted such taming.

The book is an adaptation of a dissertation Chang wrote for her master's degree at NTU.

According to the book, the high school's counseling authorities often claimed the girls had been influenced by external factors and said such "circumstantial homosexuality" would change later. Some interviewees also accused the school of using religion to exorcise the "devil" in the girls.

One student with the pseudonym He Su (何甦) said when another lesbian asked for help from the school's guidance counseling office, the counselor gave her a Buddhist sutra and told her to recite it at home.

The subjects also discuss the school trying its best to avoid using the term "homosexual" when handling lesbian students.

Another interviewee who called herself Hsiao Chun (小君) tells of two girls expelled from the school after a military instructor found them naked and together in a campus toilet.

The book touches on a sensitive double suicide case that occurred at the high school seven years ago. Rumors circulated in the media at the time that the two girls who killed themselves were lesbians.

One former student in the book remembers going to a secret cranny in a school building with her lover and seeing graffiti on the wall, which she believed was left by the two girls who took their own lives.

Commenting on the book, school principal Chen Fu-kui (陳富貴) said she had not heard of any lesbian students at her school since she took over as its principal about a year ago. Chen also said that, as Taiwan society has become more liberal in recent years, subjects previously considered taboo can now be discussed openly.

Chen refused to comment on the authenticity of the interviews, saying she would read the book and talk to the guidance counseling office today before making a response.

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