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Taiwan hosts East Asia’s largest LGBTQ+ pride parade

Huge crowd turns out for parade that is equal parts Halloween, bodybuilding competition, and old-fashioned civic protest

Taiwan Pride draws record crowd with theme of diversity. (Taiwan News, Sean Scanlan photo)

Taiwan Pride draws record crowd with theme of diversity. (Taiwan News, Sean Scanlan photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The 21st Taiwan Pride parade supporting the LGBTQ+ community set attendance records on Saturday (Oct. 28), drawing a crowd of 176,000 people, according to event organizers, the Taiwan Rainbow Civil Action Association.

Held under mostly cloudy skies, the crowd advanced along preset “northern” and “southern” parade routes. Both routes began and culminated in the square in front of the Taipei City Government.

Separating the parade routes was meant to prevent congestion, speed up the parade, and comply with the road access that police had given the parade, according to Taiwan Rainbow Civil Action Association (TRCAA) Spokesperson Brian Cragun. “In 2019, we also started here and marched to Ketagalan Boulevard, but it was 5km and took three hours.”

Organizers shortened the parade route to two simple loops and tried to split the floats and audience evenly. “If companies identify with a certain color, they could choose to participate according to the route associated with that color. For example, Amnesty International is yellow, and they were given the chance to join the route associated with that color, said Cragun.

Taiwan hosts East Asia’s largest LGBTQ+ pride parade
All colors and persuasions were embraced at Taiwan Pride. (Taiwan News, Sean Scanlan photo)

Cragun added that neither route was associated with a particular gender or sexual orientation. This year’s theme is “Stand with Diversity,” advocating for equality and rights for all members of Taiwan’s LGBTQ+ community.

“By diversity, we believe that every individual can express themselves through different facets such as racial, sexuality, gender, economic background, and even lifestyle diversity such as open relationships or BDSM. There is some stigma attached to this that needs to be cut down. We even want to bring foreign workers from Taiwan to this event,” said Cragun.

TRCAA began organizing Taiwan Pride in 2020, taking over from a rotating alliance of NGOs that had previously organized the event. Each year, preparations for the parade begin in February with some 150 volunteers and two paid staff members, though the ranks swell to 400 staff on the day of the event.

When asked about the lewd clothing or lack of clothing that some participants choose to wear, Cragun says TRCAA encourages individuality and freedom of expression. “Pride is the one day of the year when people can come out and be themselves and, more importantly, be seen the way that they want to be seen.”

“The big thing is diversity and standing with diversity. Taiwan is a diverse country, but sometimes our understanding can be limited by binary thinking, such as male and female. This dichotomy can marginalize or generate animosity between different groups,“ said Cragun.

Taiwan hosts East Asia’s largest LGBTQ+ pride parade
Colorful costumes in front of Taipei City Government. (Taiwan News, Sean Scanlan photo)

In a UDN media report, TRCAA Chairperson Fletcher Hong (洪浩哲) said this year’s theme hopes to foster respect for individual differences and harness the collective strength of the community. He added that it was also acceptable for individuals to take on different identities, as personal choice should be respected.

To demonstrate the diversity of this year’s parade, seven different political parties were represented, including the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Kuomintang (KMT) Youth League, New Power Party, Taiwan Green Party, Taiwan Statebuilding Party, Taiwan Solidarity Union, and others. With political groups joining the event, organizers hope more LBGTQ+ friendly policies will be promoted in the future.

Following the passage of same-sex marriage in 2019, the next milestone for parade organizers is the promotion of more education regarding gender equality and LBGTQ+ rights, according to Hong. He hopes Taiwan will continue its progressive attitude toward such issues and not regress or move backwards in terms of gay rights.

Parade organizers believe many issues continue to influence and affect Taiwan’s LGBTQ+ community, such as immigration, adoption, and inclusion in Taiwan’s Artificial Reproduction Act, which currently prohibits support for surrogacy, which many same-sex couples may depend upon.

This shows that despite the large outpouring of support for this year’s Taiwan Pride parade, LGBTQ+ advocates still have a long road ahead of them in battling discrimination and justice for the communities they support.