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With marriage equality coming soon, how are businesses going to react to the upcoming boom in the Taiwan pink economy? To answer that question, Equal Love Taiwan programmed an event series. The first event was “The Pink Economy Takes Off — Is Taiwan Ready?” and it was hosted by Jay Lin, the CEO of Portico/GagaOOLala. Lin invited Jack Hsiao, Hornet’s General Manager for Taiwan and Dorian Tsai, the owner of Rawher.
Rawher is a company that makes and sells clothing, accessories and home goods, both mainstream and LGBTQ-branded. Tsai tells us that after meeting with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (or NLCC), Rawher began to grow massively.
“With so many of us sharing resources and information, we can avoid making the same mistakes,” Tsai says. He’s also sick of the lazy LGBTQ branding on items, adding, “And why do all products need to have the rainbow design? Products developed by an LGBTQ company should be more interesting.”
Tsai says the NLCC has proven that the Taiwan LGBTQ community is an important economic player. It’s also been able to attract queer companies and organizations across many different fields, building connections between these companies and mainstream businesses. For example, last year the NLCC brought brands like Google, HBO and Uber to its international convention.
Hornet’s Jack Hsiao has analyzed the enormous size of the Taiwan pink economy. Through his research, he’s identified four indicators that show whether a country has policies in place to grow its pink economy. The indicators include decriminalization and legalization, equal rights and education, societal and business attitudes and, finally, economic policy.
Compared with other Asian countries, Taiwan seems relatively LGBT-friendly, but when you look at Hsiao’s indicators, Taiwan’s not quite there yet. Hsiao also points out there’s a direct positive correlation between a city’s GDP and how friendly the city is to the LGBTQ community. A government that’s LGBT-friendly makes it easier for companies to innovate, to encourage workers and to increase quality of life.
Hornet gathered user data during last year’s Taiwan Pride Week as well as from this year’s Songkran Festival. Gay tourists spent at least NT$250 million and NT$500 million at the two events, respectively. Hsiao is calling for tourism bureaus in both Taiwan and other Asian countries to admit that “no one can ignore the pink tourist economy!”
As the premier gay social media network, Hornet has devoted itself to protecting human rights, ending HIV stigma and to becoming the most important promoter of the pink economy.
Art and media provide an enormous cachet of soft power. Though the gay population is only around 4%–7% globally, Lin says the gay-friendly population is 93%–96%, showing the true potential of the pink economy. After all, LGBTQ film festivals — like Outfest Los Angeles and Frameline in San Francisco — are popular events that draw enormous crowds, and openly LGBT celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Margaret Cho and Anderson Cooper are enormously popular.
TV producers are of course already well aware of the importance of the pink economy. RuPaul’s Drag Race is a hit on primetime TV. The popularity of drag in general spans far outside the queer community.
And drag queens can generate profit, too. Portico Media is behind the LGBTQ-focused streaming service GagaOOLala, which produces many original shows. Lin uses his platform there to tell queer stories, showing his subjects’ true colors all while gently persuading non-LGBTQ viewers to respect, understand and accept our community.
But the question remains: Is the island nation ready to take advantage of the Taiwan pink economy?