The Origins of 'Queer Asia': The First International LGBTQ Docuseries in Asia

The Origins of 'Queer Asia': The First International LGBTQ Docuseries in Asia
Credit: Queer Asia
Why you need to know

'Queer Asia' features the proud, vibrant LGBTQ communities of Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines & Vietnam.

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Editor's note: Jay Lin, a longtime LGBTQ advocate and producer of "Queer Taiwan," shares his journey to launching Asia's first international LGBTQ docuseries, "Queer Asia." All episodes of “Queer Asia” are available for free in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong/Macau, and Taiwan on GagaOOlala. ​​​​​​

The genesis of Queer Asia started with an online GagaTai & LalaTai video campaign called "Out People," where we interviewed several out and proud, unique individuals (15 and counting). We asked them to share their life stories, professional background, and perspectives on being openly gay in Taiwan. With each video release, we garnered increasingly more positive feedback.

After finishing the first initial round of the campaign, I yearned to continue to share personal stories and lives of the LGBTQ community. I realized that these authentic voices provide the best conduit to, first and foremost, make mainstream society acknowledge that LGBTQ people are everywhere and in all walks of life and secondly, to encourage those in the closet to find the comfort and courage to come out.

Starting in 2016, I have been involved with the Taiwan Marriage Equality Coalition, campaigning for the passage of the Gay Marriage Bill. It was also during this period that I became a dad to twin boys through surrogacy.

03_QUEER_PHILIPPINES_Gay_Christian_pasto
Credit: Queer Asia
Reverend Crescencio, a gay Christian pastor in the Philippines.

This period of time was arguably the most challenging time of my life, as I struggled to balance work, family, and activism obligations. Soon into the campaigning, I realized that that my most significant contribution would be to simply present myself as a proud gay father. I also used my media experience and resources to create consumable content that would rise above the shouting and vitriol from both sides and instead just allow everyone to watch, listen, discuss and hopefully expand their hearts and minds. Queer Taiwan was the consequent result.

In "Queer Taiwan," we bring balanced discussions to the controversial issues of: religion, drag, disabilities, sex services, and surrogacy. Queer Taiwan was launched on GagaOOLala and endorsed by many influencers. It has been publicly screened at numerous venues in Taiwan and Southeast Asia and still is to this day.

Queer_Asia_Poster

I was emboldened by the positive feedback of "Queer Taiwan" and the crowdfunding success of "Queer Asia" to continue to extend our docuseries beyond Taiwan. Eventually, we selected four countries to highlight.

Hong Kong has always been a pillar of economic liberalism; however, it is interesting to uncover how liberal the social milieu is in a multi-ethnic society where identity seems to be more wealth and status based.

01_QUEER_HONG_KONG_Host_Cheuk_Wan-chi_(卓
Credit: Queer Asia
'Queer Hong Kong' host Cheuk Wan-chi (卓韻芝) (L) and transgender woman Beatrice (R).

Japan is one of the most culturally and ethnically homogenous societies in the world. The docuseries seeks to find out how the society adapts to the increasingly vocal demands from the LGBT community for further recognition and acceptance.

02_Queer_Japan_Sasuke-_go-go_dancer2
Credit: Queer Asia
A go-go dancer in Japan.

The Philippines is a staunchly Catholic country but ironically has many openly out LGBTQ members in film, entertainment, politics, and business. So how does its society gyrate around these two seemingly polar realities?

03_QUEER_PHILIPPINES_Ice_Suegerra,_a_fam
Credit: Queer Asia
Ice Suegerra (C), a famous transgender singer and actor, with his wife Liza Seguerra-Diño (R), an actress.

Vietnam, a Communist country with a youthful population, is starting a cultural renaissance that is creating a seemingly more vibrant and fluid society.

04_QUEER_VIETNAM_Queer_History_Month___L
Credit: Queer Asia
A performer at the Le Papillon Exhibition in Hanoi, Vietnam's first drag exhibition.

We are pleased to be working with different yet equally passionate directors and hosts to showcase the people and voices from these four countries.

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Credit: Queer Asia
The 2018 Philippines gay pride march in Manila.

My goal with “Queer Asia” is to highlight the uniqueness and explore the commonalities between the documentary subjects and the viewers. I am glad the journey has taken us from "Out People" to "Queer Taiwan" and now to "Queer Asia." I hope that you will find the docuseries entertaining and insightful and continue on the journey with us, as it is far from over.

Jay Lin is the Founder of Portico Media, the company behind GagaTai, LalaTai, HahaTai, and GagaOOlala, Asia's first and the world's largest LGBT online movie platform. He is also the Co-Founder of the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival (TIQFF), and father of a couple of 2 year old twins.

Read Next: OPINION: Why We Need 'Out in Taiwan'

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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