By William Yang/Ketagalan Media
A McDonald’s ad that went viral in Taiwan in March took the unprecedented step of showcasing a man coming out to his dad. While the ad captures some of the collective traits of many gay men’s coming out experiences in Taiwan, it fails to show the long periods of struggle that many of us have to go through before that moment. Even though Taiwan is considered one of the most progressive countries in Asia when it comes to LGBTQ rights, LGBTQ Taiwanese still face tremendous challenges during their coming out processes. To many of us, it is a long and lonely path filled with self-doubt and rejection, and these aspects are usually left out from the mainstream media’s coverage.
As a self-proclaimed LGBTQ rights activist, I’d like to reshape the general public’s understanding of the coming out experience in Taiwan by recounting the real-life experiences of two LGBTQ individuals.
From initial rejection to full parental support
It must have been fate that Justin would lead a unique life compared to his peers. With a backpack and his cap on backwards, he looks just like any other college student in Taiwan – but Justin possesses a maturity that sets him apart from others his age.
Although the youngest child in his family, Justin never enjoyed the luxury of being spoiled by his parents and older siblings. One of his twin older sisters was left with multiple mental disabilities when she woke up from a months-long coma caused by meningitis. The silver lining of this tragedy was that it helped the family become closer, but the incident also forced Justin to mature fast.
Justin’s early maturity may have helped to lessen his family’s burden of taking care of a mentally disabled child, and it also eased the tension during his coming out process. He realized he was homosexual when he was 11, but the thought of homosexuality being abnormal prevented Justin from sharing it with anyone. He could only think about it in his head or explore it online.
“I always found it weird how I felt nothing when other guys were talking about girls, but these instances somehow helped me gradually confirm my understanding of my sexuality,” said Justin. “From elementary school to junior high school I could only explore my sexuality in the dark. I never thought about bringing it up with my parents because they were not really open about it.”
Justin finally came out to his friends in high school. In fact, it was the girl that he dated for over a year that helped to fully confirm his affection for guys.
The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: Coming Out: The Real Stories behind McDonald’s Viral Ad
First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White