REVIEW: Queer Taiwan Is a 'Heartfelt Attempt to Find Common Ground'

REVIEW: Queer Taiwan Is a 'Heartfelt Attempt to Find Common Ground'
Portico Media

What you need to know

Queer Taiwan's first episode is a powerful documentary that explores life in LGBT communities in Taiwan through local queer voices and opposition groups.

While it is tempting to tackle the topic of marriage equality through the lens of polarized opinions, online series “Queer Taiwan” seeks to do just the opposite.

Its first episode delves into the struggle for marriage equality on the island; directed by Liling Gan and produced by Jay Lin and Tiffany Tsai, it provides not so much a celebration of unity in the face of opposition, more a heartfelt attempt to find common ground.

The story is framed by the narratives of two prominent members of the LGBT community: Leo from the online platform FufuKnows and Jin Tai, the first openly gay Taiwanese singer.

Through them, we hear moving stories from local LGBT voices as they interact with opposition leaders, but what is most striking about the 30-minute episode is that it portrays activists from both sides – providing a vital platform for voices that have hitherto been ignored.

Portico Media
The second episode delves into the motivations behind Taiwan’s drag queens.

“Oppose backdoor deals. Protect the disadvantaged,” blares a sea of protest signs one minute. Next, we hear Christian activist, Chao Pei-fen, declare that her protests are born out of “love” – opening a conversation that is more necessary and relevant than ever.


Despite a ruling in favor of marriage equality by Taiwan’s Constitutional Court last May, same-sex marriage laws have yet to be ironed out by legislature. Moreover, the government frequently cites a need for social “consensus” to explain a lack of progress on the issue.

“Queer Taiwan” attempts to break away from such divisive narratives. Instead, it tackles what it calls a “misunderstanding on both sides” of the debate. In one powerful scene, the protagonists meet with pro-marriage equality Pastor Chen Si-Hao, leading Leo to remark, that “Christians and gays are not opposing each other”.

The film’s message is that such solidarity is vital for progress.

Nor does the treatment attempt to neatly tie what is an unfinished debate. “Queer Taiwan” at times leaves discussions unresolved in favor of preserving the integrity of its voices, and for this the production should be applauded.

“Queer Taiwan” is the creation of GagaOOLala, an LGBT content streaming platform aimed at Southeast Asia that was responsible for the Taiwanese-Filipino co-produced film “Tale of the Lost Boys.”

GagaOOLala Founder (and occasional News Lens contributor) Jay Lin said in a press release that Southeast Asia is “arguably one of the most complicated [regions] in the world, but [its] diversity is ripe with hidden characters and stories that excite us.”

It is clear the that team want the film to resonate through the region, and perhaps inform ongoing struggles in less tolerant geographies and cultures. Perhaps for this reason, the complete season is available for free in many Southeast Asian countries, including Taiwan.

The film certainly champions this spirit. In a closing scene, Chien Meng-xuan, from the Youth Delegate of Next Generation Happiness Union, declares that “we shouldn’t focus on the system right now, we should focus on the listening.”

“Queer Taiwan” presents an uplifting albeit challenging vision of the future – direct in address and poignant in delivery, the film reminds us that even in the most intense debate, one must always listen.

You can catch the second episode on Jan. 19 on the website, with new episodes in the four-part series set to air every Friday.

Future episodes will address the motivations behind one of the most popular queer movements in Taiwan and in the world, drag queens, before moving on to the controversial organization “Hand Angels,” which provides sexual services for people with disabilities. Finally, the series will ponder queer families and explore surrogacy and the laws regarding this issue in different countries

READ NEXT: FILM REVIEW: Tale of the Lost Boys

Editor: David Green