This month marks Pride Month around the world. It is to commemorate the Stonewall Riots back in 1969 in New York City which sparked the Gay Rights/Liberation Movement in America and around the World and spawned the term 'gay' and 'pride' and gay pride parades, which are so well-known today.....
I had initially hesitated to blog about this as I have other post i wanted to do such as a long overdue one on gender and women's issues (an issue close to my heart and which i haven't touched on for a long time) as well as a blog series on old Cathay/Shaw Mandarin Classic Cinema but then given the significance of this month and many events currently occuring in the world relating to gay advancement, i thought i would blog about it in this post...i've wanted to talk about the gay issue for awhile anyway and been too long since i posted anything on this topic (besides the Mardi Gras in Sydney this yr)...i'll also be doing a review of the Lesbian-themed film 'Miao Miao' which i wanted to see so desperately and which i did watch earlier this yr...
First Off, Some LGBT-themed videos on youtube which i find extremely interesting, check them out:
Do love Hotels Discriminate?-Hong Kong:
Do love Hotels Discriminate?-Hong Kong:
I find this video extremely interesting, i mean i never even thought of this topic before and it just shed light on such a niche and interesting aspect of gay issues...do love motels discriminate against same-sex couples? Well, apparently according to this undercover investigation by the SCMP in HK, the answer is a resounding yes. Although race does seem to play a part too, as notice how the white couple first gets rejected and then accepted when they ask for the price for the room...i find it ironic that love motels in hk would practice high-morality discrimination when the establishments themselves are not places of morality in the first place-providing unmarried heterosexual couples and cheating spouses avenues of lust-whilst at the same time rejecting same-sex ones on moral grounds?!! Hypocrisy really~~
Antique Bakery-Korean Modern Day Gay themed movie:
Antique Bakery-Korean Modern Day Gay themed movie:
The first Korean gay themed film to be a box-office hit was the 'King and the Clown' and the indie film 'No Regrets' also did exceptionally well at the box office for an indie movie. But the first Korean film with a modern day setting to have done well at the mainstream box office would have to be 'Antique Bakery' in my opinion. I liked this movie surprisingly as it dealt with the gay issue very maturely, it was merely a subtext to the main story and not THE issue and the ending part involving the serial abductor was so interesting..
On the issue of Gay Korea, i used to have a column on this issue back in the day when it wasn't so popular yet in 05/06 and there weren't many resources in English on the web back then...but now, there's been alot of blog posts written in English on the issue, so have a look here (as i'm no longer gonna continue my 'Gay Korea Column'):
I think Korea has come a long way in terms of LGBT rights and visibility although it still has a looooong way to go and is still lagging FAR behind even compared to its regional Asian neighbours such as Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, and yes even authoritarian China in this section. I mean when 'The Coffee Prince' came out, it was all the rage with its homosexual subtext..but hello, we Chinese had this exact same story back in 1994 with 'Who's the Man Who's the Woman' by Anita Yuen and Leslie Cheung which was a hidden reflection of Leslie's real life then...so it took the koreans 12 yrs to finally make something along the same lines....similarly the movie 'Frozen Flower' which is supposed to have this shocking homosexual sex scene (apparently korea's first mainstream movie depiction of raw gay sex) is really not very 'shocking' in my opinion given that i saw a clip on youtube of this and remember once again, us Chinese, managed to make a much MORE explicit mainstream film gay sex scene in Wong Kar Wai's 'Happy Together' 10 yrs before Korea's 'Frozen Flower' bck in 1997..this scene has been deleted in many versions i've seen as it really almost looks like coming out from a gay porn scene (it's a very short 10 sec scene right at the beginning which i was surprised Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung, two of hk's then biggest stars, would be willing to perform..i saw it on SBS Australia once when flicking thru the channels and positively startled..haha)..So i just hope i've pointed out the differences even between Asian nations in terms of gay acceptance and progress with the chinese being right at the top with the Thais and Filipinos and Koreans being behind relatively and that we cannot paint Asia with a huge brush and say its all a 'taboo' and 'oppressive living in Asia and being gay' which i see all too often in the Western media when they touch this subject, evidence of not being on top of their games and lacking basic research into the topic..
Japanese Gay Films Review:
I really like this list and have seen quite a few films on this list actually (surprisingly!). I absolutely agree with the reviewers 100% in placing 'Hush!' at NO.1 of their list as THE best Japanese LGBT film in history...i recommend it for anyone...please go get it..WATCH IT..it's very funny, amusing, witty, and deals with human relationships, the sense of disconnect with society and human relations, and loneliness. It is definitely a film worth watching and i think average viewers will be able to connect with the film..it's not one which you would be squirming uncomfortably or feel has excessive male nudity/sex scenes,etc perfectly nuanced and not in-your-face like alot of Western gay films tend to be. I just found a link to the complete movie with both Chinese and English subtitles (thank god there's the mainland chinese video sharing websites..i kid you not, you can find just about ANYTHING on them...i've even seen ppl post up to youtube videos from the chinese video-share sites as they have even clips and movies which westerners can't even find nowadays..i once found a full length clip of a 1990 interview with Audrey Hepburn in it at the chinese sites!!!):
China:Some Links to Articles/Blog posts giving an indication of the status of gay rights and gay acceptance in China now:
Let me just say that it seems China has also progressed by leaps and bounds in the past 10 yrs, and esp, 5 yrs, in terms of general acceptance of gay people living in China. Many activists and gay Chinese have said so. Homosexual acts between men was decriminalised in 1997 and homosexuality was removed from the official list of mental disorders by the Chinese Government in 2001. The first Pride Week was also held in Shanghai earlier this month (i think!) marking the first Gay Pride Celebrations in China in history. Westerners whom don't know China better like to think of it being so super-repressive and gay people being targeted,etc but in reality the gay issue is NOT taboo in China now and the media is surprisingly pro-gay (including the State-owned China Daily and People's Daily English Version to the point where i suspect someone at the top there must be gay! i'm serious, i cannot count the number of times i've read articles in these two STATE-OWNED papers which are extremely pro-gay..the China Daily even published a large photo of two young chinese males kissing close-up at a kissing competition in Beijing..very daring i thought.....)
Another piece of evidence of mainstream openness in the media towards homosexuality, 'A Date with Lu Yu' one of the most popular talk shows in China on Phoenix Cable, did two shows on homosexuality which i saw (she may have done more) in the mid-2000s and one focused on a gay couple in China adopting a child and raising him as their own. He turned out to be straight and married a woman. here's the link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wurz1LO_qD0
Two cents on my thoughts on recent events in America dealing with the LGBT issue. As everyone knows by now i presume, 2008/2009 has been a watershed for America in terms of LGBT issues. Just last yr, the SMH and ABC in America had articles on TV 'turning gay' with the plethora of gay characters and romances you see everytime you switch on the tv...from Ugly Betty to Desperate Housewives to Amazing Race to Survivor..i think its true and thats great...gays are finally coming out of the media closet...i believe its shows like Amazing Race and Survivor which really change perceptions, especially amongst straight men, as they show gay men not only being able to do all the rough and tough obstacles, they actually break stereotypes and beat the straight men at doing it!! I believe both shows have had gay male winners i think..basically beating out everyone else!! It's very good role models for young gay men growing up...that it's not all about fashion and design, that you can be gay and be just as atheletic and strong as the straight guys..
Gay Marriage has also become legal in six states now in America and polls have shown American support for gay marriage has doubled in the past 5 yrs alone. Yes. Doubled. Many are now criticizing Obama for not doing enough but i think they're being very impatient and impractical. I mean Obama secretly believes in gay marriage ok...there's evidence he filled in a questionaire twice back in the mid-90s stating so when he was still relatively a newbie senator...he has to be practical in dealing with issues like the DOMA and the DADT policy which requires broad political consensus..it's NOT as easy as signing an executive order which some want to think...that's the WRONG WAY to go about it by doing this unilaterally like the dreaded Bush years when so many executive orders were signed pushing his agenda unilaterally. Furthermore, America now has Iran, Iraq, a huge economic crisis, as well as healthcare reform, to worry about...Obama cannot do everything all at once...saying he has 'abandoned' the gay community and 'broken' his promises is absurd in the extreme given that its ONLY been less than 6 months since he's come on as the President...maybe if nothing has changed 6 months BEFORE the end of his current term, can one really say he has 'broken' his promises on LGBT issues...give him a break and some time guys..it's no secret there has been progress (eg. issuing of official statement declaring June LGBT Pride Month and extending most benefits to federal employees and overseas employed staff's same-sex spouses)...
On the Carrie Prejean 'Gay Marriage' conundrum, i pity the girl...i seriously do...despite being a liberal and pro-gay i completely defend her right to say what she did...i applaud her for her courage and taking a stand as i could see she was faltering in the beginning of the speech saying something completely PC and then deciding to take a stand on the issue...she has since lost her Miss California Crown and i think completely didn't deserve it...she should have been Miss USA and her answer should not have cost her the Crown..i mean she didn't say something like 'No Offence, but i think gay people should be shot or killed or interned..' Or 'i think i believe gay people should be sent to mental institutions to be cured for their own happiness and well-being'....she merely stated her personal belief and family upbringing on views towards marriage...why should she be persecuted for that?!! I mean the liberal media's treatment of her (i saw many shows on the liberal media going on and on and on and on about her boob job, her dumbness, her bigotry,etc..)was horrendous and really alienated me and i'm sure many mainstream straight people as well whom would have been more sympathetic to the gay marriage cause...so what's the big deal about having a boob job? Isn't what liberalism and women's rights is all about? The freedom for a woman to choose and make options without being vilified? As a feminist, i was appalled at the lack of support coming from fellow feminist and women defending Miss Prejean on her right to an opinion as a human being as well as her boob job....they basically made up all kinds of excuses to dethrone her eg. sexy pictures, boob job,etc..i mean hello, isn't this America and isn't this 2009?! When did taking sexy pictures become such a big deal in the entertainment industry in 2009? When did not making appearances suddenly become a death note when the ultimate goal should have been to win Miss USA...i bet if she had said ' I believe gay marriage should be legal in all states across this great land of ours' she'd been praised and won the Crown and all those boob jobs, picx, etc wouldn't have mattered a single bit...its sad to see the liberals using tactices which the right wing conservatives use against liberal icons...sad...i defend Miss Prejean's right to her own opinion (as long as its not completely offensive like gay ppl should be treated, arrested, killed, commit suicide..etc) and this is coming from someone as pro-gay as me:-)
Taiwan is the gay Chinese mecca for Chinese gays, being the most liberal in terms of laws, media,etc when it comes to LGBT issues. It also has Asia's largest pride parade and is the only nation in Asia to have seriously debated and considered the gay marriage issue. That's why i think many gay Malaysian/Singaporean Chinese visit it for holidays as i read some LGBT blogs sometimes and there's been alot of gay chinese malaysians/s'greans visiting Taiwan in recent yrs to my surprise...the media obviously plays a big role and here are some links to gay Taiwanese movies which have done well with the mainstream public or which i personally like:
I loved this film as expected...don't ask me why, i'm not even a lesbian, but i love Taiwanese lesbian films...they're just so romantic and deep...much better than the Taiwanese gay films...don't get me wrong, gay taiwanese films are good too but they lack the emotional punch and are abit too shallow...for instance although many ppl,straight or gay, loved 'eternal summer'...i didn't like it one bit although i had high hopes for this film with two gorgeous looking guys and a korean drama storyline(or so i thought) but the story made no sense...the bad thing about taiwanese media is that sometimes,just sometimes, the pro-gay slant is to the extreme that the storylines are more gay men's wishful fantasy than reality (and the directors are straight ppl too!) like how in Eternal Summer the straight guy sleeps with his gay best friend?! and initiates it first (wtf!) and then in a scene, he lounges around after taking a shower in a white towel..etc..you get the idea...whereas lesbian films like Miao Miao are just sooooooo romantic...i like the two girls in the film, very pretty...loved the ending when she opens up the cake and sees...(won't spoil the movie!) and the theme song is so romantic...love it to pieces...there's a gay subplot too involving the male character...but again it was lil confusing, abit of pandering to gay audiences again..like the director wants you to think he's a repressed gay whom actually loved his best gay friend whom loves him but he couldnt' face it...but this does not make sense cos he's a musician living in 2008 in Taipei....hardly the setting and person to be suffering from 'self-hatred'...but anyways..watch the film if you have the chance:-)
Gu Lian Hua:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJjMvZipA5E
This is by Anita Yuen and Lee Sin Je, two of my fav actresses....i like the beginning half of the drama...it was bad at the end though...it has a lesbian storyline set in 40s Shanghai and 50's Taipei and even a lesbian kiss between two of them wearing cheongsams..i mean where else can you get to see two shanghai women of the 30s WEARING CHEONGSAMs (i know, i'm a cheongsam fetish) and kissing each other?! haha...
Blue Gate Crossing:
If Hush! is my No 1 Favourite Japanese LGBT film, then this film must be not only my No1 favourite LGBT Taiwanese film, but one of my fav Taiwanese films of ALL time...actually most of my fav taiwanese films have a LGBT theme..haha..including 'The Wedding Banquet'...
This film occurs on one summer in a Taipei highschool between a guy and a girl..he likes her, but she hides a secret...
The ending of the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWPIgFlHk6Y
This Public TV quality drama chronicles the trials and tribulations of a single mother and how she deals with her now adult gay son and her daughter whom has a child with a black guy out of wedlock. Very moving. Full Film Link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNc0UBDMr-Q
Previous Posts on the LGBT Issue:
I hope readers have gained a better understanding of LGBT issues in Asia...my aim in this blog when it comes to LGBT issues has always been to fill a gap which i see in the number of English language information available out there on gay Asia and provide gay Chinese/Asians an alternative to the mainstream Western slant of gay culture which prizes the West and Western culture and the Western male physique...on a subconcious level, i think its not a good thing for gay Asians not to have Asian roles models,popular media, and to worship whiteness essentially ( i can't tell you how pissed off i get when i see loads of white male photos on gay asian blogs when i first started getting into the LGBT issue and doing some research back in 2005/06 and you see all these asian gay blogs posting 80-90% of their photos of western men..i seldom read LGBT blogs now but i do see a slight improvement in terms of more gay asian male sexy pics whenever i happen to come across one..) There must be pride in being Asian and being gay and not having to idolise western gay culture and western men/women in gay culture.
1999-2009, Gay Rights and How Far LGBT Issues And Rights Have Come in a Decade:
Looking back at the past 10 yrs, i can see gay culture and LGBT rights has improved heaps in this decade...something unimaginable when i was growing up in the 90s(and i'm sure those of you growing up in the 90's,80's,70's,etc)....back in 1999 not a single country in the world had gay marriage..it was unthinkable and unattainable...in 2009, Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden all recognise same-sex marriage and Britain has same-sex marriage as well essentially (just not in name!). In 1999, there were no gay pride parades anywhere in Asia except for Thailand and Philippines. In 2009, there are pride parades in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the first Pride Events in China and Singapore this year. Many mayors of major cities around the world are gay including the Mayor of Paris, Berlin, and Oslo i think. In 1999, TV showed no to little main gay characters, by 2009, Taiwanese dramas include gay characters to the point where no one bats an eyelid anymore. I still remember watching Rene Liu's 1999 film about marriage advertising and how in one scene it showed a gay man arriving and she learns he's gay and it was like portrayed in a very sympathetic but dark manner as if although one should sympathise with homosexuals, it's so sad being homosexuals and their lives...well by 2009, Taiwan has produced at least 2 films which show happy taiwanese gay youth and their love lives and with happy endings, no one dying,etc no depression whatsoever,etc..and its cliche now that every male actor should play a gay role to win awards...in 1999, it was taboo for a straight man to touch on the issue of homosexuality or show any interest in the matter (except of course in a negative light)...now, i can't even begin to count the number of times i've heard the gay issue being mentioned amongst straight men and women alike and its actually considered 'normal' to defend gays now and no one thinks you must be gay if you do so...believe me, i rem growing up in the late 90s in malaysia, no guy would say anything positive about gay ppl in fear of being labelled one and no one would admit seeing or even liking any gay themed films...now, i read on blogs of presumably straight guys, example being this malaysian guy whom stated his interest as 'football' some 'science fiction novel's , and amongst his fav movies...'Brokeback Mountain' standing side by side with something manly like 'Transformers' or something...hahaha..how times have changed...in a good way..
I've been reading Malaysian blogs recently and i was reading this post about a gathering and then i realised two of them were a gay couple...the most amazing aspect about it all was how all the other straight (?) bloggers came out to help them celebrate their anniversary and nothing was mentioned about them being gay...the lack of mention was surprisingly progressive...maybe Malaysia has changed tremendously since i left??Even in the comments section, no one made a mention about 'how sweet, gay couple' or something along those lines..it had progressed to the point when the mention was rendered unnecessary..even in 1999, liberal minded ppl would have mentioned the gay bit, in a positive manner...but now at least amongst this group of bloggers, there was no mention...one married guy even contrasted his relationship with his wife of many yrs to this couple and doted on how loving they were and his married life but once again, amazingly he didn't mention it in terms of 'look at how gay couples can be so loving whilst the romance in my hetero marriage has fizzled out'..it was mentioned in a matter of fact manner comparing romances pre-and post- marriage without a mention of the gay bit..how nice:-)
PS: 2/7/2009: India has just decriminalised (male) homosexual acts with the Delhi High Court's decision today repealing the british colonial era sodomy law. This means that together with China and most countries in the world, over half the countries in the world now legally allow gay sex. It is a historic decision which will help prevent extortion cases (Indian police have been known to extort money from gay men by threatening to use the anti-sodomy law in the past) and give gay Indians a measure of pride in being gay.
It also is a time for reflection for countries like Malaysia and Singapore which still retain the anti-sodomy laws from the colonial era similar to India's now defunct law. How embarassing that Malaysia/Singapore are now in the company of countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and African nations rather than rich countries like America, Canada, Australia, and Japan, or even their Asian neighbours of China, India, Thailand, and The Philippines being a few examples of nations where gay sex is not illegal...for a country like Malaysia, where the minority populations originated from mainly India and China and even our large neighbour of Indonesia with the same Malay population as Malaysia NOT banning gay sex (it is legal in Indonesia;i was surprised to know!), its such an embarrassment for the Malaysian govt to still criminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults...Wake up soon Malaysian government!)
PS: Update: 2/8/09: Link to a Prime Time Indian TV Debate program on the repeal of anti-gay law in New Delhi:http://www.tubaah.com/details.php?video_id=87326 Watch out for the old elderly lady..she's so inspiring and touching and not to mention humorous!
Anyways, that was a long post! I won't be touching on the subject again anytime soon but do leave comments on what you think about this topic!!:-) happy pride month lgbt and straight readers alike!~~Have Fun Ya and Be Happy (Gay):-)