magnolia la manga, drag, mr. gay taiwan, taiwan

Drag Queen Magnolia La Manga on Mr. Gay Taiwan and the Growing Queer Community

The third annual Mr. Gay Taiwan is happening this October 29! After three categories — formal wear, casual wear and swimwear — and a question round, the winner will be sent to the Mr. Gay World 2017 competition! We’re taking a look at the hosts and all the contestants. Mr. Gay Taiwan is proudly sponsored by the gay social app Hornet.

Magnolia La Manga, drag queen and performer at Mr. Gay Taiwan 2016.
Magnolia La Manga, drag queen and performer at Mr. Gay Taiwan 2016.

Magnolia La Manga is one of Taiwan’s favorite drag queens, and it’s no wonder she’s performing at this year’s Mr. Gay Taiwan! How well-loved is she? Her resume is about a mile long, but includes appearances with Jolin Tsai — including the music video for “Play“.

She’s also performed at many, many clubs around her home of Taipei — and she’s also gone abroad too, performing at G.O.D in Bangkok, at BITCH Club in Saigon and at Tokyo’s Pride parade. As important as drag is, she’s also done a lot of charity work for HIV organizations like Living With Hope and Harmony Home. And of course, she loves animals as any right thinking person does, and has helped out with charities like Animals Taiwan and Mary’s Doggies. She recently sat down with us to talk about her role in Mr. Gay Taiwan.

Unicorn Booty: Why is Mr. Gay Taiwan important?

Magnolia La Manga: Mr. Gay Taiwan helps push Taiwan as a happening destination for gay travelers, as well as giving Taiwan a voice and presence on the international stage that is denied by so many other organizations. It also helps gay people to be proud of themselves and encourages them to be open about their sexuality – something very important in our fight right now for gay marriage in Taiwan.

Taiwan has been on the cusp of granting full and equal rights for gay people for quite some time, and an event like Mr. Gay Taiwan help to make gay people visible and in doing so lends support to the cause. If other gay people dismiss these events as just “meat contests” or even deride drag queens as not being respectable, they forget how important visibility is to the struggle for gay rights. Events like Mr. Gay Taiwan and Taiwan Pride have been paving the way for everyone else for quite some time now.

What is gay life like in Taiwan?

I have always been grateful for the people of Taiwan for their great attitude towards drag queens and their friendly welcoming open arms. I firmly believe that Taiwan is the best place in Asia to be openly gay, and this is due to the kind hearts of the people here. The drag scene here is small but the people are passionate and appreciative.

As a pre-Rupaul’s Drag Race drag queen, I have watched the drag scene grow and develop even more, and this has been in tandem with an explosion in gay life and culture in Taiwan that means we have one of the most expansive and vibrant LGBT communities in Asia. We even have our own small gay village at Hong Lo in Taipei’s Ximenting.

For a long time, I have been a vocal and visual supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality in Taiwan. I can be seen every year at Taipei’s Gay Pride Parade. This is the largest gay pride parade in Asia, and the most exciting event I look forward to every year. It’s where I can reaffirm my commitment to the gay community in Taiwan and meet many of my adoring fans from across the region.

In the last seven years alone, the Taiwan Pride Parade has grown from 25,000 to 80,000 people. Watching the Pride Parade grow and being just a small part of such a huge success is one of the proudest achievements of my lifetime.