The True Story of How a Rainbow Bus Brought LGBTQ Issues to Taiwan’s Most Isolated Citizens
In the run up to Taiwan’s historic Constitutional Council decision declaring marriage equality a constitutional right for LGBTQ citizens, Hornet and local LGBTQ activists carried out a nationwide “Beyond the Rainbow” tour. During the tour, LGBTQ activists rode a rainbow bus to isolated parts of the country to discuss marriage equality and queer rights with those outside of the LGBTQ community.
Taiwanese activists identified parts of Taiwan that had statistically higher incidences of anti-gay opinion and came up with several strategies about how to engage people about key issues.
The multi-colored “Beyond the Rainbow” bus tour lasted 60 days, from March to May 2017, stopping outside gay-friendly cafés, college campuses, parks, marketplaces and even the hometown of Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen.
At each location, activist volunteers set up chairs and microphones for LGBTQ participants to share their experiences.
The rainbow bus also showed a moving documentary about Ye Yong-Zhi (葉永鋕), a gay Taiwanese student who died after severe bullying at his school. His mother subsequently became a proponent for LGBTQ rights and anti-bullying measures.
Many people visited the bus to read more about LGBTQ rights, to watch the documentary and to hear personal testimonies. It even brought some visitors to tears. Many stops on the rainbow bus tour were the first time any organization had ever spoken publicly in favor of LGBTQ rights.
Hornet and the organizers had no idea that at the end of the tour, Taiwan’s Constitutional Council would rule that the island nation’s current law violated LGBTQ Taiwanese citizens’ rights to equal protection under the law.
While marriage equality now faces a voter referendum in November, local LGBTQ activists will continue educating voters on why marriage rights are essential for full equality.
“We are happy to see so many Taiwanese supporting full equality,” says Sean Howell, Hornet’s founder and President. “Marriage equality does not diminish the value of heterosexual relationships; it simply recognizes the worth of Taiwanese LGBTQ relationships.”