Updated: Jul 10, 2020
A celebration we will never forget!
When we originally started this trip in April, we mainly planned to travel through just Southeast Asia but never once thought Taiwan would be on our list. However, a few months into our trip, we were at a cafe and we overheard a conversation about Taiwan's Gay Pride. We joined in to the conversation and quickly decided this was one event we absolutely could not miss.
Taiwan is undoubtedly the most progressive Asian country especially when it comes to LGBT rights. On May 17, 2019, a bill was approved recognizing marriage among same-sex couples. The bill was officially signed into law by President Tsai Ing-wen on May 22, 2019. As of May 24, 2019 (yes, last year!), same-sex marriage was finally legalized. This makes Taiwan the FIRST country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage... and hopefully this is just the start!
There is something so special knowing that you are actively participating in such a monumental and positive change in history. This was undoubtedly one of those moments and we are so grateful to have seen it first hand. Gay Pride to us is a beautiful moment of sharing love with people no matter who they are or their background. An event for people of all walks of life that can gather and share the most important thing: love. Gay Pride is an event for lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexuals, asexuals, pansexuals, or even just sexual people, and more! It is so much more about just the label its about being proud of who you are and not holding shame to who you love and why you love the way you do.
When we were making our way towards City Hall we didn't see many people dressed in rainbow or celebration attire. Needless to say we were sticking out in a crowd with our rainbow temp tattoos, rainbow necklaces, and as if being Western wasn't enough. But just as soon as we switched off the orange line and on to the blue line everything changed. The doors to the subway opened and a crowd of rainbow flags and painted face were all marching in the direction of city hall and you could feel the energy change in the station.
There were hundreds of people piling out of the subway station with their Pride outfits on and ready to go. People were chanting and smiling just so excited for the day to begin. Once we got to the top of the station and outside, you could see we were definitely in the right place! Pride to the max! The flags were soaring and the music was blasting as people were crowding around waiting for the parade to start.
About half an hour later, we followed the line to start the march and we were on the move! Everyone was huddled together and excitedly moving forward. We spotted the biggest float near by and it was conveniently the LesPark (a Lesbian dating and friend app) float. We followed the float for about an hour in with an incredibly talented Taiwanese girl rocking it out on her saxophone, Lisa Qu. (You should definitely check her out)
After marching along, you'll definitely run into A LOT of drag and see everyone joining in the parade so here is where it's a bit of a march and a parade. We met a ton of locals who had us bouncing around from place to place until we finally reached the end of the parade at Ketagalan Boulevard, It is also near the Presidential Palace where performances are being held. It was one of those butterfly feelings to see these huge popstars and the whole crowd singing together.
Now this is when the party gets started: We stopped at Ximending at the Red House - North Square after the performances and if you have already been here the night before, you'll know that Ximen is known for being the LGBT district here in Taipei. Just behind the Red House are LGBT bars and drag shows happening on most nights and obviously on Pride. Drag queens from all over the world and DJs graced the stage until dawn. There were also a handful of other afterparties happening from 8p-5am. We went to MAJIMAJI where LesPark sponsored the event and had so much fun, but there are others that you can find here. We met so many friendly and supportive beautiful people and danced the night away. Safe to say, we were exhausted by the next day but well worth it.
Gay pride parades differ all across the world especially in Western cultures like USA or Europe. When it came to Taipei Pride, we found that it was actually quite different from any other Pride we've gone to. Western parades are often seen and expressed as a massive party/ festival. There's definitely a lot more risqué people on the streets ..and let's just say.. the less clothes you're wearing, the better. The parades are also used for a lot commercialization and are financed by larger corporations or businesses for their advertising.
Taiwan offered a more "tame" experience and it felt like more of a march to us than a parade. You would see people with alcohol or canned beers walking along the road, but not many seemed to be out of control. It felt less of a party and more of a focused gathering for change. The parade itself was also quite different. Most gay pride events will have control of the main road and there will be blockades for the bystanders to watch the parade. Taiwan Pride only takes up half of the main road and you will be spending a majority of the march next to traffic. The lack of blockades allowed anyone and everyone to join the parade in unison regardless of being on a float. This left the pride feeling slightly unorganized, but moving nonetheless!
The very first Taiwan Pride started out as a smaller gathering in the city of Taipei in 2003. But over the years, Taipei Pride has flourished and grown to be the second largest gay pride event in Asia next to Tel Aviv, Israel in the Middle East. Taiwan is constantly being referred to as one of the most liberal countries in Asia. As we explored Taiwan, we saw many LGBT couples and more public affection than we had in any other Asian country. By the year 2019, the attendance for gay pride has grown to over 200,000 participants from all around the world.
The Purple Diaries
Attending the Taiwanese Gay Pride was definitely one of a kind. If you are looking for a gay friendly celebration we recommend adding this to your list! The locals are some of the friendliest we have ever come across. It doesn't matter what styles, dances, or sexuality you are in to there is definitely something for you here and you will without a doubt be welcomed!
Attending Taiwan Pride was a memory we will hold on to forever. It is so amazing to watch as this world make progress towards positivity and happiness. If you are looking for an amazing time and one of the best Gay Prides in the world don't miss out on Taipei next year! Its only going to get bigger ;) For more posts about LGBTQ+ travel around the world keep an eye out for our Purple book insights!