Taiwan has witnessed a wave of growing social movement advocating for equalized legal protection for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the last few years. The movement is largely spearheaded by the marriage equality movement, with several LGBTQ rights groups forming an alliance to actively push for the legalization of marriage equality. It achieved several milestones since December 2016 when Taiwan’s legislature passed a set of draft amendments to the civil code through the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee on December 26, 2016, and on May 24, 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court mandated a two-year timeframe for the government to legalize marriage equality. However, momentum has since been stalled as the government repeatedly emphasized the need to foster social consensus on marriage equality before the legislature can sign it into law.

Aiming to cultivate more balanced discussions about marriage equality and other topics related to the LGBTQ community, a production team from the LGBTQ content streaming platform, GagaOOLala, attempts to use their latest documentary “Queer Taiwan” to initiate engaging conversations around topics that deeply affect the LGBTQ community and Taiwanese society at-large.

“We want to create a docu-series that allow opinions and stories from many sides to be heard,” said Jay Lin, founder of GagaOOLala and the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival. “We want to delve into issues in detail so as to spark dialogue with people in their living rooms, offices, amongst friends and strangers alike.”

Image by Portico Media

The first season of Queer Taiwan offers an in-depth look at four main topics in Taiwan: religion and the marriage equality movement, the drag culture, sex and disability, and surrogacy. The stories are told through the narratives of two prominent LGBTQ figures in Taiwan: Leo from Fufuknows and Jin Tai, and in each episode, the duo offers audiences a comprehensive understanding of each topic through their interaction with characters from different sides of the discussion. While each episode focuses on one unique topic, the documentary attempts to foster a deeper understanding of controversial topics in society and shed lights on the common misconceptions around them.

“Through ‘Queer Taiwan,’ we want there to be more talking, and less shouting, more empathizing and  less rejecting, more consensus and less division,” said Lin. “We hope that people of all ages, gender, color, education and sexual orientation can find time to watch.”

Image by Portico Media

With the official debut of Queer Taiwan’s first two episodes on GagaOOLala, the team is now planning to expand the scope of the project to Southeast Asia. To Lin and his team, the region’s complicated history, culture, and economic development offer a diverse range of topics and stories that are worth sharing with the rest of the world. After an extensive search for potential topics, they decide to focus on four countries for the first season of Queer Asia: Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

“The truth is, there is simply too much to cover,” said Lin. “Therefore, we made the decision to focus on the four countries. Our Queer Asia docu-series will uncover many aspects of the LGBTQ community [that are] not yet featured.”

After dedicating the last few years to LGBTQ works for the community, Lin realizes it is important for the LGBTQ community to come together and continue to help make the diverse range of issues within the community more visible.

“I realize that it is not only important but actually necessary for you, me, and all of us to lean on the community that we have all helped build, in one way or another, and continue to find ways to keep supporting each other,” said Lin. “Some topics and individuals in Queer Asia might be controversial, but I am convinced that visibility is always the first step towards acceptance and equality.”

Queer Asia is now calling for support through their crowdfunding campaign on FlyingV. You can find all the details here, including how to sponsor the project.

William Yang

William is a freelance writer and photographer based in Taiwan, with a passion for human rights and storytelling. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from Temple University, and has extensive experiences interning at global NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Mercy Corps.