marriage equality, Kuang-Ting Cheng, Taiwan, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Coming Out, Christianity, Fundamentalism

What It’s Like To Be Gay and Married In Taiwan

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With the news that Taiwan may become the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality soon, we wondered what gay life was like in Taiwan. Thankfully, the lovely Kuang-Ting Cheng agreed to sit down with us and answer a few questions about his life and love.

marriage equality, Kuang-Ting Cheng, Taiwan, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Coming Out, Christianity, Fundamentalism
Kuang-Ting hugging his husband, Eason

He and his boyfriend Eason got married in April. They had a small ceremony in Minneapolis with Kuang-Ting’s cousins and family. Sadly, Eason’s not out himself yet — he works for the government and needs to keep his sexuality secret. (But Kuang-Ting says Eason’s a “showy person” — and we agree with him that it’s a shame we can’t show Eason’s handsome face clearly.)

Unicorn Booty: How long have you two been together? How would each of you describe the other?

Kuang-Ting Cheng: We’ve been together since Christmas Eve, 2010. I would say my husband, Eason, can be quite street-smart to others, but childish to me. Eason might think of me as a romantic and sensitive idealist.       

Can you tell us the story about how you met and how you decided to become boyfriends?

We met at the Taiwan LGBT Pride in Taipei back in October 2010. I saw a charming guy with long hair on the street — and he also checked me out, but we didn’t say a word to each other. After I went back home, I tried my best to look for him online, giving every detail to every stranger I met online.

Someone told me that my dreamboat could be Eason — and we set up a date. But as I met him in person, I realized that I was mistakenly introduced to the wrong guy! However our date went so well and the wrong guy turned out to be the right guy for me. [Laughs]

Have you faced much homophobia in Taiwan, or are people generally accepting? 

I guess I have faced many kinds of homophobia in different stages of my life. For example, high school was a nightmare since I was never a masculine kid and got bullied on a daily basis. But interestingly enough, when I met the old boys in a class reunion years later, they all got extremely friendly with me and were impressed by my openly gay identity. My ex-bullies now are quite interested in attending my future gay wedding. I guess people are more accepting as they get older and more mature.

What about your family or the government — have there been any issues with them accepting your relationship?

As for my family, it took almost a decade for them to accept me as a gay man. At first, it was really tough to come out. Dishes shattered; endless weeping and fights. But gradually my parents learned to get along with me and my other half. At the very beginning, they even couldn’t call Eason “Kuang-Ting’s boyfriend.” They considered him “a very special friend of our son” for a long time.

For my baby boomer parents, it took years to understand the idea of homosexuality in their heads. I kept quarreling and communicating with them, but we never gave up on each other. Now, I’ve got a way better relationship with my folks than I used to. I’m very grateful to have supportive family and relatives who are loving and generous to me and my hubby.         

Have you seen gay couples in many Taiwanese television or movies? Do you like the way they’re portrayed? Why or why not? 

Yes, I have seen gay couples, but not in many TV dramas — they appear mostly in movies. They are alright for me I guess. I don’t really identify with them, personally. Gay characters are more symbolic in Taiwanese art films. Sometimes they are not portrayed genuinely for commercial reasons. People assume gay men are either good looking or obsessed with their handsome straight friends.

Christian activists have begun protesting against marriage equality in Taiwan. Do you think same-sex marriage will become legal in Taiwan this time? Why or why not?

I believe same-sex marriage will become legal in Taiwan eventually, but probably not this time. There are only 7 percent of Taiwanese who believe in [the Christian] God, and very few of them are fundamentalists who actually dislike same sex marriage. Taiwan is a county of Taoism and Buddhism, but marriage equality is suppressed by an extremely small group of Christians. It is indeed a shame.

I’m very hopeful that legalization of gay marriage will come true since people under 40 in Taiwan are mostly pro gay rights. Younger generation has no issues with the LGBT community at all. Let’s wait for the older generation and the conservatives to die out. 

 

  • Chuang K.

    I always assume that the Christian percentage of Taiwan was 4% at most (or between 3 or 4%)–but I suppose you’d need to consult census data to be absolutely certain. In any case, it’s as unfortunate, if not more so, that that small percentage can so easily overrule the larger plurality, if not majority, of Taiwanese who would accept one of the three new marriage laws. At the same time though, the protests in Taipei most recently were surprisingly diverse: not just Catholics and Presbyterians, but a undeniable showing of religious Buddhists and Indigenous Taiwanese campaigning against gay marriage. As Mr. Cheng pointed out, this isn’t going to be an easy thing.