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Taiwan seems likely to become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage (even though it’s experiencing some Christian opposition), and with its recent fundraising of $8 million, the gay social app Hornet plans on working with local activists to help make marriage happen. We spoke with Hornet’s community manager, Darien Chen, about the app’s plans. He’s a former participant in the Mr. Gay World competition with insights ideas about the current and future state of gay culture in Taiwan.
Unicorn Booty: What do you think are the biggest issues facing gay men and the gay community in Taiwan right now?
Darien Chien: I think the biggest issue is the easy access/prevalence of party drugs which not only affect the physical/mental health of our community but also kill the going out and social scene.
Why is it more important now than ever to help gay men in Taiwan connect for more than just hookups?
Any community is based on friendship and real connections. Hornet’s aim to create a inviting and safe environment for all gay man to strengthen our culture with more inclusiveness. We hope gay man in Taiwan see this and rise above mere hook-ups to aim for real connections and creative friendships.
I’ll show the Taiwanese gay community that Hornet is here to provide a prejudice-free, harassment-free, and bully-free platform where we celebrate diversity. And beyond connecting individuals, we’ll also use Hornet’s resources to connect established organizations and create synergy among the already very happening scene of the Taiwanese LGBT movement.
Do you think lots of Asian LGBTQ people are moving to Taiwan because the country is seen as more welcoming to LGBTQ people? Why or why not? What do you think will change in Taiwan’s LGBTQ culture over the next few years?
Taiwan actually has one of the world’s hardest residency laws, so until we have marriage equality, hopefully next year, it’s not easy to move here permanently, but the social atmosphere has encouraged many queer individuals to travel to Taiwan constantly or spend a year or two here.
Being the first democracy in Asia and having a more accepting culture and open atmosphere by far — thanks to the long time, hard work of many local LGBT organizations and many out celebrities which have sparked public discussions, increased gay visibility and created more acceptance of LGBT people.
We are very optimistic that marriage equality will happen in the next couple of years, I think we can see some really dynamic changes in culture and acceptance from the ground up.
What are things that Americans and other gay people around the world don’t know about Taiwan’s LGBTQ culture that they should?
People who have never been to this side of the world might be pleasantly surprised to know that there’s an island in The Orient which kept the best of thousand years of Chinese culture and kept it safe from the Cultural Revolution and the Communism, but also brought it into the 21st century. Here marriage equality currently has a 60 to 65 percent approval rate, higher than half of the American states, and we also have a very healthy, diverse and home-grown gay community with a vibrant gay press, literature and culture, where many big music stars over the last 10 years have came out and supported the LGBT community.