2018 Fall Taiwan Temple Exchange Thomas Kuklinski

Taipei Pride 2018

I’ve never been to a pride parade before. There, I admitted it.

I know that might make me seem like a bad queer, but I have my reasons. Trust me, it’s not because I don’t want to. If I could have it my way, I would be strutting through the Gayborhood with a rainbow flag wrapped around my shoulders every year. But things are different back home. By the time Pride comes around in Philly, I’m back living with my conservative family, and I lose the autonomy I have during the school year.

But hey, now I’m living in Taipei. Pride is in October. I don’t have a conservative watchful eye to answer to. I can just put my makeup and rainbow tie-dye shirt on, grab my camera, and join the parade.

As I’m biking from my apartment to the parade, I don’t even need to use Google Maps — I can literally just follow the rainbow. I start hearing Ariana Grande, the crowd of rainbow and glitter gets thicker, and before I know it, I’m in the parade.

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I’m supposed to meet up with a friend, but before I find her, I’m just amazed by it all. I’ve seen videos from Philly or LA Pride before, so I know the basics: glitter, flags, go-go dancers, floats sponsored by clubs and non-profits, but like… it was so different seeing it in person. I couldn’t help but smile. Before I could even find my friend, I was just awe-struck by the people. There were Drag Queens and Kings, Cosplayers, Queer Aboriginals, student protest groups.

I knew no one there, but everyone was happy and welcoming. I got compliments on my outfit from strangers. People would ask me to take their picture. They were handing out signs and flags to anyone. If you were there, you were a part of the LGBTQ+ family.  You were all fighting for the same cause.

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There was just such a cool energy. It was very international, Taipei is known for being one of the most queer-friendly countries in Asia, so they draw a big crowd of tourists for pride. But it also felt more political than I expected. Next year, Taiwan could be the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality. The theme of the Parade was “Tell Your Story, Vote for Equality (性平攻略由你說.人人18投彩虹)” More than 137,000 people came out, compared to 123,000 last year. The parade routes went right past the government offices in downtown Taipei, we couldn’t help but be noticed.

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I finally found my friend, and then eventually ran into some classmates as well. We all marched together and then watched the sun over this huge political demonstration at the end of the march. There was a speech about the Marriage Equality Referendum vote,  a performance by a local musician, a call to support other LGBTQ+ movements in Asia. Then it’s all done. We all dispersed and brought a bit of the rainbow back to our corners of Taipei.

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