Living "out" or "in" Taiwan

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Living "out" or "in" Taiwan

Postby QuietMountain » 25 Nov 2003, 00:45

I posed this set of question in the Pink Martini Hottub thread. But, thought it might deserve it's own.

For the gays & lesbians among us, whether you are Taiwanese or foreign, how do you deal with either being "in the closet" here in Taiwan or the "coming out" process while here in Taiwan? Who knows you are gay? Who do you tell? How do you tell them? What is their general reaction? Do you ever stay in the closet? If so, why and when?

Generally, I don't mind telling people, unless it might cause my bf to be "outed" to someone he doesn't want to know (see my most recent postin the "Pink Martini Hottub" thread).

I do have two stories. But, I've written enough tonight. So, I'll see how others respond and write them later.
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Postby QuietMountain » 26 Nov 2003, 23:56

I'll post again, to bring this thread back to the top of the list. I'm really hoping that someone will reply to these questions. This is not just idel curiousity. I really would like to know how others have dealt with coming out issues here in Taiwan -- both Taiwanese and foreigners. I'd also be interested in knowing how you deal/t with coming out in general (whether here or in your home country).

I am sort of mentoring a gay man right now who is dealing with the whole coming out issue. I'd like to hear some other experiences, so that I can have various ideas for helping him.
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Postby LittleBuddhaTW » 27 Nov 2003, 00:10

I first came out back in the States when I was about 20, to friends, teachers, and parents ... not a single negative reaction ... actually, after i came out my cute str8 guy friends were more willing to let me cuddle with them ... hehe

As for Taiwan, when I was working, my boss and co-workers (Taiwanese and foreigners) all knew and no one had a problem with it. I've never told my classmates or teachers outright that I'm gay, but I'm pretty sure they've got the idea since they all know what my thesis topic is, and I don't know of any str8 guys who would be interested in researching homosexuality in Chinese literature ... again, no one has had a negative reaction. I think we've covered the idea before that people here pretty much don't care one way or another if you're gay ... the only time they will object is if it's their own son. My boyfriend has never told his parents although he thinks they probably suspect ... but I don't think it's necessary. They don't try to restrict him or anything like that and haven't put any kind of pressure on him for not having a girlfriend ... so I don't really see any reason for him to tell them at this point. I think it's much easier for Taiwanese to accept a foreigner being gay, though ... a lot of people I've met think it's "cool" ... although I have to emphasize to them that it's just the way I am, it's not "cool" or "not cool." I think society here is becoming more and more accustomed to the idea ... the groundwork was laid by Bai Xianyong and his novel "Niezi" (Crystal Boys), and at least in the (liberal) world of academia, queer studies is becoming more and more popular. At NTU they even offer a special scholarship for people researching gender studies (which includes queer studies). In the long run, I think it will be easier for gays here than it's been in the States. I think attitudes are changing very quickly, and will even more so within just the next generation. Young people especially seem quite open to homosexuality, IMHO.
"Rude, vile pigs!" -- Elton John (screamed at the Taiwanese media in September 2004)
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Postby QuietMountain » 28 Nov 2003, 00:54

I just talked to my mother (who I came out to 3 years ago) and my brother (who I told in April) on the phone. My mother's initial reaction, being the good Christian she is, was to cry and ask me how I could do this. Over the last 3 years, she and my father have come to accept it. Though, I'm not sure they will ever like it.

My brother, on the other hand, always struck me as pretty homophobic. So, even after I told my parents, it was sort of agreed upon by all 3 that we wouldn't tell him right away. But, amazingly enough to me, my mother has finally started telling people that I'm gay. And, she started to worry that my bro would find out through someone else. She though it was important for me to tell him, instead.

His reaction was not what I expected. I told him over lunch at a restaurant (figuring he wouldn't make a scene) and he just sat, quietly. Then he asked me how long I had known. I told him. He then asked me how my mom reacted. I told him. And, that was the end of the conversation.

Even so, I do notice with both of them that we can having a very pleasant converation on the phone, laughing, etc... like tonight and if I mention my boyfriend (they both know about him), their attitudes change slightly... just for a second. It's almost like the DVD froze.

I agree about Taiwan, though. I find that most people here don't have a problem when I tell them. I think it is definitely a function of two things. One, I'm a foreigner. They seem to think it more likely that a foreigner will be gay than another Taiwanese guy. I am still always amazed at the number of people who seem more shocked my bf is Taiwanese than that I am gay.

The other thing is that I'm not related to them. Even their shock that my bf is Taiwanese is only fleeting. Usually they recover fast and accept it. I think because, he is not related to them. So, they could care less if he (or I) am "a gay." Unlike his mother who I don't think will ever accept that he is gay, since he is the only son. Nor, will she ever like me, since I'm preventing her only son from giving her a daughter-in-law and grandkids.
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Postby Vannyel » 30 Nov 2003, 14:23

OK, I will try to add my nt$2 to this...
As a guy that moved here from TN, there isn't much to deal with as far as being in the closet. It's the same closet I've always lived in. A very selected few people know I am gay...my parents and siblings all know; however, some of my 'closest' friends don't. I am very selective about who I tell. My Taiwanese roommate knows...I told him 8 years ago when we met at the university because he wanted to share an apartment at the time and I wanted him to know since I had a boyfriend who I intended having over. Obviously my room mate had/has no problem with it since we have remained friends (and are now room mates again).
I am more likely to come out to someone here than I would in TN. I find the reactions to be less drastic. I have had several language exchanges and some I have told and some I haven't. It just depends on when we get to the topic of relationships and how I feel about the person I am talking to.
I have found that most of them don't care.
As for work, it's the same as in the states...I normally don't discuss it. But here I have some gay coworkers and we do discuss our relationships.
Sorry but I can't think of anything more substantial to add. :-(
Stating the obvious - The views expressed in this post are my own and should not be misconstrued as a personal attack. These views are based on my personal experiences, which, obviously (again), are not the same as yours.
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