Submitted Monday, June 2, 2014
Editor’s note: Part two of the Rainbow Sheep series is as eye-opening as the first. As someone who doesn’t possess an adequate understanding of the LGBT community, it was engaging to read about different opinions that exist within the community itself. – J.S. Feng
Before coming to Taiwan, I was never very comfortable with my sexuality. I would only ever tell the closest of my friends. And even then I was hesitant.
I knew my friends loved me dearly for who I was, but there were always those few who were a little different. You would not believe the look of happiness and pride that was apparent on their faces when I did something that would mark me as being “straight,” like when I asked a girl to prom, and the look that ensued on the face of my—at the time—”best friend”. He and I are no longer in contact.
I’d always wanted to have kids; to live the “American Dream”: a good job, a wife, 2.5 kids, a nice house in a good subdivision, a dog—the whole picture. The truth is that most of this isn’t going to happen, at least not easily. I wanted to make my parents proud. I wanted to not have to hide who I was, to not be a minority.
I wanted to be straight.
Coming to Taiwan really opened my eyes. When I first arrived, I thought almost every guy was gay. It even seemed like most of the girls were lesbian. There were suddenly an abundance of extremely effeminate, “sissy” guys—what I like to call “fairy boys”—and overly masculine women that I honestly thought had a Y-chromosome. It was always a shock to see what I thought was a guy walk out of the women’s restroom. Even to this day it seems like most Taiwanese guys are gay, but I have learned the markers to really be able to tell.
I was never a very masculine guy, nor was I super effeminate. I was always more in the middle. Most people couldn’t tell I was gay, and would instead mark me as being “metrosexual”; a straight man that is generally more in-touch with his fashionable or feminine side. Coming to Taiwan I found that I was more masculine than even the majority of the straight. I was considered normal. I could be “one of the guys.”
I could pretend to be straight.
Those of you who are more familiar with Taiwan might ask why I would want to pretend to be straight in a country like this. Generally speaking, Taiwan is a very gay-friendly place. Taiwan annually hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in all of Asia, and it can be said that it’s very colourful. Colourful like a rainbow, but also in more ways than one.
Taiwan also has a diverse cultural background and is home to many different sorts of people, so it’s no wonder that Taiwanese are generally very accepting. But as in all instances, acceptance isn’t alway completely across the board. There are terms to it.
Taiwanese are actually at times very racist and prejudiced, or simply poorly educated in avoiding stereotypes and generalizations. They have preconceived notions about certain ethnicities or peoples.
One of my most vivid memories relating to this happened with a host family I was staying with at the time. We had dinner one evening at the 2/28 Peace Park near the Presidential Palace in Taipei. In case you don’t know, the 2/28 Peace Park is a cruising (pick-up) for gay men.
As we were passing near the park, my host mother told my 9-year-old host brother to make sure he stays close and not to run off. She said, “The gays like to take little boys and do things with them.” Just like my parents, she thought being gay meant an immediate interest in even younger boys. Something which is, of course, unnatural; something that in so many ways could be considered a mental or psychological illness. They didn’t know my sexuality, but the fact that they could be so mistaken and say something like this in front of my face really hurt me.
While younger generations are generally much more accepting, the middle-aged or above often have very closed-minded views. But I can understand why some people might feel this way. There is not much awareness on the subject of homosexuality. Most people still think it’s a choice. It’s seen as unnatural. And with how the gay community acts here, I can understand why some people would be uncomfortable by the thought of a gay man.
There is nothing wrong with being gay and expressing your sexuality, but some Taiwanese tend to go overboard. I find it similar to some religious people in the States. They almost force their sexuality on you. They’re gay and it’s very apparent. The way they dress, the way they talk, and even the way they walk—loud, proud and gay. It makes me, and a lot of other people I know, feel very uncomfortable.
In Taiwan, the term “西餐妹” (literally “a Western cuisine girl”) refers to a girl who, as a rule, only goes for “Westerners.” Generally these foreigners would not get much attention in their own countries, but here in Taiwan it’s a completely different story.
Looking for someone who will be able to provide them with financial security is something that is ingrained into the minds of some of these girls from a very young age. I would say this mentality also carries over to about half of the gay community here in Taiwan—the “twinks.”
A lot of these boys are quite a lot like these “西餐妹”. They go for older or much maturer foreigners, who most of the time are fairly well off—their “sugar daddies,” if you will. And not just sugar daddies because they provide and spend a lot of money on these boys, but also because some of these Westerners are old enough to be their fathers, even grandfathers in some cases.
Sometimes we refer to Westerners who are only attracted to Asians as having “yellow fever,” and the same can be said about many Taiwanese having “white fever.”
Coming to Taiwan has helped me come more to terms with my sexuality, but I still have some hangups. I’m not like a lot of gays. I don’t enjoy screaming my sexuality to the world. The heterosexual majority of the world doesn’t have to do this, so why does the gay community feel they must throw it in the faces of everyone else out there? You have parades to celebrate who you are. Awesome. That doesn’t mean you have to wear the tiniest Speedo you can find and go cavorting down the streets making out with everyone you see.
Yes, I am gay. But that doesn’t make me different from any other guy. I am who I am. My sexuality is my business and it doesn’t change who I am. If I choose to share this little piece of myself with you, it’s because I feel comfortable sharing the real me with you. There is nothing wrong with being proud, but that doesn’t make it OK to openly flaunt it to the world.
Don’t be defined by the world. Just because society says you have to be this “cookie-cutter” model of a homosexual man, that doesn’t mean you have to conform to it.
Be yourself, a person not mislead by societal molds, and the people around you will love you even more.
The Rainbow Sheep of the Family pt. 1: http://wp.me/p4gUDD-lp