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social sciences

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Future Directions

Despite this apparently momentous proliferation of queer politics and cultural production over the past decade, it should be kept in mind that the audience for much of the new tongzhi culture remains limited. In the case of avant-garde queer fiction, film, theater and graphic arts, the audience is largely restricted to a liberal-minded portion of the educated urban middle-class.

The fact that such stories, films, plays, and artworks enjoy prominence in the intellectual cultures of northern Taiwan does not translate into any widespread acceptance of actual gay and lesbian individuals: the ideological centrality of the patrilineal family has certainly not disappeared in the contemporary period, and parental pressure to marry and raise children remains very strong in the lives of most individuals. Much of the current media buzz around tongzhi cultures, too, remains implicitly or explicitly homophobic.

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Indeed, one worrying recent development is the emergence of a more organized homophobic backlash in response to the increasing prominence of local tongzhi cultures. On the one hand, when the queer topic becomes mainstreamed it may have the potential to diversify the character of mainstream commercial culture itself, as is arguably the case with the recent spate of locally produced lesbian and gay-themed television dramas. But on the other hand, the new prominence and coherence of minority sexual politics can also spark angry repudiations from the social mainstream.

For example, in 2001 the plate-glass window of Taiwan's first exclusively lesbian and gay bookstore, Gin Gin's (established in 1999), was repeatedly smashed, leading tongzhi groups to protest what they viewed as a hate crime. Even more disturbingly, in 2003 Professor Josephine Ho, a founding member of the Centre for the Study of Sexualities and an outspoken champion of the rights of sexual and gender minorities, has been targeted by a coalition of new-right women's and Catholic groups seeking legal action to have her removed from her teaching position at National Taiwan Central University.

These groups are attempting to stifle Professor Ho's groundbreaking work on academic studies of sexuality and her activist intervention in women's rights, lesbian and gay rights, and sex worker rights. The legal challenge to Professor Ho may mark the worrying appearance of an American style, new right, Christian inflected anti-queer conservative politics, something that had not previously been seen in the local Taiwan context.

Thus, while on the one hand Taiwan's queer political, subcultural, academic, and artistic cultures continue to grow and diversify, on the other hand their increased prominence may have unforeseen consequences in precipitating a more organized homophobic backlash. The deathbed pronouncement of Sun Yat-sen, who is officially revered as the Father of the Nation but whose words are cheekily claimed by the tongzhi movement as a queer political slogan, seems never more apposite: "The revolution has not yet been successful; comrades, we must struggle yet" (Geming shangwei chenggong, tongzhi reng xu nuli).

Fran A. Martin

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Angelwings: Contemporary Queer Fiction from Taiwan. Fran Martin, trans. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003.

Berry, Chris, and Fran Martin. "Syncretism and Synchronicity: Queer'n'Asian Cyberspace in 1990s Taiwan and Korea." Mobile Cultures: New Media and Queer Asia. Chris Berry, Fran Martin, and Audrey Yue, eds. Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 2003. 87-114.

Chang, Hsiao-hung. "Taiwan Queer Valentines." Trajectories: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. Kuan-hsing Chen, ed. London: Routledge, 1998. 283-98.

Chao, Antonia Yenging. "Embodying the Invisible: Body Politics in Constructing Contemporary Taiwanese Lesbian Identities." Ph. D. diss.: Cornell University, 1996.

Chu, T'ien-wen. Notes of a Desolate Man. 1994. Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-Chun Lin, trans. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Erni, John Nguyet, and Anthony J. Spires. "Glossy Subjects: G&L Magazine and 'Tongzhi' Cultural Visibility in Taiwan." Sexualities 4.1 (February 2001): 25-49.

Gender/Sexuality Rights Association, Taiwan. Petition protesting the legal action against Professor Josephine Ho:

Lü Jinyuan. "Taiwan nütongzhi jiubazhi yanjiu" (A research note on Taiwan's lesbian bars). Cultural Studies Monthly 23 (Jan. 15, 2003):

Martin, Fran. Situating Sexualities: Queer Representation in Taiwanese Fiction, Film and Public Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2003.

Pai Hsien-yung. Crystal Boys. 1983. Howard Goldblatt, trans. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1995.

Parry, Amie. "Narcissists, Lesbians, Shuai Ts and So On: The Cultural Politics of Creative Taxonomies." Cultural Studies Monthly 3 (May 2001):

Sang, Tze-lan D. The Emerging Lesbian: Female Same-Sex Desire in Modern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Silvio, Teri. "Reflexivity, Bodily Praxis, and Identity in Taiwanese Opera." GLQ 5.4 (1999): 585-604.


    Citation Information
    Author: Martin, Fran A.  
    Entry Title: Taiwan  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 31, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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