Taiwan is regarded as one of the most progressive states in East Asia. Same-sex sexual activity is legal, although the Taiwanese face a lot of the same roadblocks felt here in the US regarding legal protections. Legislation aimed to legalize same-sex marriage was proposed in 2003, however, the bill received opposition and was not voted on. Should the law eventually pass, the Republic of China would be the first country in Asia to permit same-sex marriage.
In November 2003, Taiwan held the first gay pride parade in the Chinese-speaking world. Held in Taipei, with over 1,000 people attending, it continues to take place annually, hosting 65,000 citizens in 2012, the largest LGBT event in Asia. Currently the Republic of China does not have any form of same-sex unions but that didn’t stop a lesbian couple from holding the first same-sex Buddhist wedding in 2012.
And on February 20, 2014, two stars of the Taiwanese primetime soap opera Ordinary Love, Sunny Lee and Carolyn Chen, made history when they shared an onscreen kiss.
Seems Taiwanese Drama’s are an even bigger deal than say your Days of Our Lives and Sunset Beach’s (yeah, I said it) as they serve as major influences for television and programming in industrializing Asian nations. Speaking local Taiwanese instead of Mandarin, Ordinary Love attracts millions of viewers every evening at 8 p.m., and while lesbian characters have been portrayed comedically in the past, this is the first prominently featured lesbian storyline that has included major stars of the show.
The storyline is based around Fang Siyao, a surgeon who after discovering her husband Chung’s affair with female student, Jiang Xiaoting, decides to exact revenge. She becomes friends with Jiang, calling herself Jasmine, and grows sympathetic when she finds out it is her husband who led Jiang on. Ten years later, Jiang becomes pregnant and Fang remains close, becoming more of a partner than Chung, Fang and Jiang fall in love with each other.
The story is both noteworthy and successful, not only in Taiwan but also in greater Chinese communities, due to it’s portrayal of LGBTQ issues and the show’s historical kiss. If Taiwanese drama’s are anything like those seen here in the states, hopefully this story line continues to grow on into eternity.
(Thanks to reader Eva for the tip!)