My New Year Rooster Message: They Go Low, We Go Forward

My New Year Rooster Message: They Go Low, We Go Forward
Photo Credit: Olivia Yang/The News Lens

What you need to know

We must not bury our heads in the sand but instead use our voices, actions and unity to make sure we continue moving forwards and not backward.

It was 1990, and I was a senior at Davis Senior High School. Though too young to vote, I was still going around block to block in my neighborhood handing out flyers to get people to vote for the Democratic nominee Dianne Feinstein for the California governorship. She lost to the Republican nominee, Pete Wilson. Two years later, Feinstein won a seat to the Senate and has served there ever since, and is, at 83, currently the oldest serving Senator.

It is now 2017. I, like many others, am anxious about the future of the world — in particular, the U.S. This time around, I was old enough to cast my absentee ballot for Hillary Clinton back in November, but it is Donald Trump who is now the 45th President of the United States. There are always winners and losers in elections, after which the country moves on and forward. But my fear is the U.S. will sadly move backward and drag the rest of the world with it.

These past few days, I have been watching video clips of the Cabinet confirmations for the Secretaries of the State, Education, Energy, Defense, Justice and so on. I am genuinely concerned about the consequences of these appointments, coupled with the Executive Office's ultra-conservative agenda. In his first few days in the White House, Trump has already signed an executive order allowing the federal government to start dismantling the Affordable Care Act. He also banned the Environmental Protection Agency staff from talking to the press after suspending all contracts. On his first day, he signed a ban on federal money going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions. All this and more, the impact of Trump’s first few days in the Oval Office is already being reverberated worldwide.

So nobody should be surprised that the Women’s March on Jan. 21, a day after Trump’s inauguration, gathered so much grassroots momentum and drew millions of people (4.8 million estimated) across the U.S. and the world, including Taipei, in protest against Trump’s words — now actions and policies.

The protesters should find effective ways to continue the resistance and vigilantly promote values and policies they deem essential for global harmony, prosperity and sustainability. I have friends across the world who are fearful of the ever-stronger wave of populism hijacking their own respective countries, ushering in an era of xenophobia, homophobia, nationalism, and protectionism. Nobody can predict the future, but there are telltale omens of potentially dark times ahead.

Because of these dark warning signs, we must not bury our heads in the sand but instead use our voices, actions and unity to make sure we continue moving forwards and not backward.

I am gratified to know that the Asian Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance (APQFFA), which I co-founded here in Taipei in 2015, has now expanded its membership to 17 film festivals across Asia; its members will convene in Sydney, Australia during the Mardi Gras Film Festival this March to strengthen its alliance and formulate strategies to support each other.

Taiwan is also still on its course to becoming Asia’s first country to legalize same-sex marriage, and Taiwan’s parliament will reconvene in February, and we, the diverse aggregation of individuals who want a more equal and loving world, must step up our lobbying and canvassing efforts to convince the undecided legislators and citizens to support the Marriage Equality Bill.

When Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, was in Taipei to share how the U.S. won the marriage equality fight, he underscored that Asia, with 4.4 billion people and roughly 59 percent of the global population, is the only continent (excluding Antarctica) without a country allowing same-sex marriage. Taiwan is in a position to change that.

I am no longer a high school student and sadly find it harder to devote the time that I once had to knock on doors and hand out flyers. But I, along with friends at Pridewatch.tw, have created a Chinese-language website where each supporter of same-sex marriage can register their address (no need for the street number) which will then convert into one light on that location on the website’s map of Taiwan. The lights are tallied collectively as well as by each legislative district so that people can see the level of support across the country. Those who register will receive weekly updates on the latest development of the marriage equality bill so that they can share the information with their friends, family and networks. The website also lists all the Taiwanese legislators and their stance on the current Marriage Equality Bill.

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Photo Credit: lightup.pridewatch.tw

The Lunar New Year is upon us and I hope that the Year of the Rooster will remind us the perpetual diligence of the rooster. A rooster will without fail crow at the crack of dawn, informing everyone that a new day has come and alarming us to not squander the day and get things done before it is too late. With that, let’s seize the day and move forward. Happy New Year!

Editor: Olivia Yang


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