Taiwan is the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. In the city of Taipei, there are many great places where LGBT history was made. So follow the rainbow! Let’s explore the journey towards the equal rights of LGBT community in Taiwan from 1980s to today.
The tour starts from “Rainbow Starting Line”, a pavement art piece in front of Taipei City Hall Square, also a significant landmark honoring the history and achievement of the equality for LGBT community, like a starting line of running track leading you to a better world. Then continues with a visit to National Taiwan University, the top 1 university in Taiwan also the first school where Taiwan’s first gay student club was established. Across the street is Shuiyuan Market, the students’ favorite place to eat, you can find some locals’ hidden foodie gems, too.
Treasure Hill Artist Village is another place that you should not miss, especially when you are an art lover. The village was lauded by a New York Times report as one of Taipei’s must-see locations. Of course, you will not miss an opportunity to visit the famous Gin Gin Store, the first LGBT culture shop in Asia advocating gender equality, which has become a spiritual icon of LGBT community. Rabbit God Temple is another highlight of this tour, which is the only temple dedicated to Rabbit God, the deity who manages marriage and relationship for homosexual people. Whether you are single or taken, you can always pray to Rabbit God for finding your soul mate or a good marriage.
228 Peace Memorial Park is another significant site in the history of LGBT movement. The park was Taipei’s major gathering place for gay men in the past, also the starting point of the first parade of Taiwan Pride. And Ketagalan Boulevard is the gathering point of the parade. To end this tour with a finishing touch, don’t forget to take a picture with the iconic Rainbow Six! Also, Ximen Red House Outdoor Bar Area is just across the street, where locates the most popular gay bars and restaurants that you can have a glimpse of gay nightlife.
October is the month to celebrate the achievement of supporting LGBT rights, and also the month that Asia’s biggest pride parade is held—Taiwan LGBT Pride. As the only country to legalize same-sex marriage, and also a pioneer in advocating LGBT rights in Asia, Taiwan has been keen on promoting LGBT tourism; the capital city—Taipei, is considered the most gay friendly city in Asia, where you can find gay bar, nightclubs, queer lifestyle stores, etc in the streets. So follow the rainbow! Embrace the city’s diversity and experience the lifestyle of LGBT community in Taipei.
Rainbow Starting Line, a pavement art piece located at Taipei City Hall Square. The “starting line” starts from the city hall and extends to Taipei City Council, as a symbol of legalization of LGBT rights, conveying the message of equality and respect. It is also the starting point of Taiwan LGBT Pride in October, like a starting line of running track leading you to a better world.
Before visiting National Taiwan University, take a walk around Shuiyuan Market and Gongguan Shopping District near the campus. Named after the former name of the district “Suidocho (water source)”, the exterior of Shuiyuan Market building is was designed by the Israeli artist “Yaacov Agam”. From a different angle, this amazing geometry art piece showcases a different visual effect, like a rainbow on the sparking waves on the surface of water, representing the city’s diversity and inclusivity.
Aside from the amazing art piece, Shuiyuan Market and Gongguan Shopping District are the students’ favorite places to eat, where you can find some hidden foodie gems with reasonable prices.
Along the street behind Shuiyuan Market, you can reach Treasure Hill Artist Village. Named after Baozangyan Temple (literally treasure hill temple), the village was originally a settlement of the military veterans, after the refurbishment, the dwelling has been transformed to art studios and exhibition spaces, retaining a coexistence with local community. It was also lauded by a New York Times report as one of Taipei’s must-see locations.
National Taiwan University is not only the top 1 university in Taiwan, also the first school where Taiwan’s first gay student club was established. The campus has been a popular place among the tourists, where “Royal Palm Boulevard”, the library and “Drunken Moon Lake” are the iconic attractions that you should not miss. National Taiwan University has been committed to the idea of gender diversity. Today, there are more student clubs such as Lambda Club, Women’s Studies Society, Gay Chat, BDSM Club, etc, supporting the equality and diversity within the school, community and society.
The next stop is the famous Gin Gin Store, the first LGBT culture shop in Asia and the Chinese society. The shop was established in the year of 1999, providing LGBT relative forums, exhibitions, etc, creating a supportive and safe space for the LGBT community, which has also become a spiritual icon in the LGBT rights movement.
Another highlight of this tour is “Rabbit God Temple”, the only temple dedicated to Rabbit God, the deity who manages marriage and relationship for homosexual people. The temple upholds the idea that love has no labels, so everyone is welcome to pray to Rabbit God for good marriage or finding your soul mate. You can bring candies and snacks, or skin care products to worship Rabbit God, and also, you may try to ask Rabbit God for an amulet to deepen your relationship or find the love of your life.
228 Peace Memorial Park is not only a memorial park to commemorate the victims of 228 Incident, this park was Taipei’s major gathering place for gay men in the past. Formerly named “Taipei New Park”, it was an important location for the scenes in Taiwan’s gay literature; the Japanese garden landscaping, the pond and the stone arch bridge are where the stories took place. These years, the government has been keeping up the effort to promote gender equality, and specially built the “Rainbow Gate” in 228 Peace Memorial Park to reflect a page of Taiwan’s history and respond with an action of gender neutrality.
Every year, Ketagalan Boulevard is the gathering point of the parade of Taiwan Pride in October. In this boulevard, we witness the achievement of supporting LGBT rights, and the indomitable spirit of the activists in history.
The last stop of the tour is Ximending Shopping District. The iconic “Rainbow Six” is a pavement art piece symbolizing the idea of respect, equality and diversity. It has also become a popular Instagram hot spot that attracts lots of visitors everywhere in the country and overseas.
Across the street is the “Red House”, the most well-preserved 3rd class historic site. This elegant octagonal red-brick building was a marketplace when it was opened in the early 20th century. After WWII, it was used as a theater. On weekends, the north square in the front of the entrance becomes a creative bazaar, drawing lots of people looking for handcrafted goods.
The south square behind the Red House is the famous Ximen Red House Outdoor Bar Area, home to many popular gay bars and restaurants. It is a place where you can have a glimpse of gay nightlife. From early evening until midnight, you can see a lot of people talking and chilling at this outdoor sitting area. No matter where you are from or who you are, you can always take a seat and enjoy the cheerful atmosphere. There are no labels and judgments, only your true self. The tour ends at Ximen Red House Outdoor Bar Area. Enjoy the night and get tipsy!
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