How LGBTQ rights are changing in Taiwan

“This is about my first love, and my first love happened to be a story of a boy liking another boy.”- Director Patrick Liu 

 May 24, 2019. Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalize same sex marriage. 
Countless LGBTQ+ activists, allies, and civil society groups have banded together to legally transform and socially influence LGBTQ+ rights in Taiwan. Since this day, more than 4,000 same-sex couples have been married. On October 30th, 2020, two lesbian couples married in a mass wedding held by Taiwan’s military. This was a historic celebration, signifying the first time same-sex couples were honored and wed at a military ceremony. 

Now at the end of 2020, a queer love story is set to globally premiere on Netflix on December 23. Locally released in September, the film has already met major success on the charts as Taiwan’s highest-grossing LGBTQ-themed movie of all time. Titled ‘Your Name Engraved Herein’, it follows the relationship of two schoolboys and bandmates A-Han and Birdy in 1987. This was when martial law had just lifted, inspiring a progressive movement toward more social liberties. At this time, homophobia was widespread and normal, while gay individuals were cast out of society. The film highlights the complexities and tensions between religious faith and sexuality, bringing in a school priest (Father Oliver) as a confidant to the lead character, A-Han. Patrick Liu, the director of this film, stated that A-Han’s storyline is about “80%” based on his own experiences. He goes on to say, “Originally, my intention wasn’t to make a gay film, it was to make a personal film. This is a story about my first love, and my first love happened to be a story of a boy liking another boy.” His personal story and experience shines through in the intimate direction of the movie, making it not a gay film but a personal love story. More than anything else, it was the social complexities and malignant attitudes toward homosexuality that threatened their relationship.  

Even though acceptance of the policy for same-sex marriage is not ubiquitous throughout Taiwan or the rest of the world, Liu hopes that the film’s showing on Netflix helps spread the message of acceptance and understanding. In his words: “I look forward to sparking more discussions across Asia. It is my hope to erase discriminations and heal the world with more love and acceptance. Producer Arthur Chu also says: “All Netflix viewers will soon be fully-immersed into a timeless tale filled with affection. We welcome everyone to rediscover part of their first love in this film.”

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