The first same-sex couple married in Taiwan, Marc Yuan and Shane Lin, talked about their romance, family lives, and also how LGBT community fought for their rights there.
By Tommy Huang in Taipei
He, Marc Yuan, proposed to him, Shane Lin, on January 6, 2018 at Tanya Chua (蔡健雅)’s concert in Taiwan. The singer passed her microphone to Yuan from the stage after singing a song titled “Sing It Out of Love (說到愛)”.
“Will you marry me?” Yuan asked, with his hands trembling. His words were responded by his beloved man, Lin, with the exact three words he wanted to hear most at that moment: “Yes, I will.” Audience lit up the stadium with their cellphone flashlights, which looked like sparkling stars in the sky, wishing the couple a lifetime of happiness.
Fashion store owner, Yuan, 30 and fondant cake artist, Lin, 31, tied their knots officially on May 24, 2019, marking a significant day in Taiwan gay right history. The couple is the first pair who registered their marriage after the legislation of same-sex marriage was passed on May 17, 2019.
Darkness before dawn
But before this happy ending, the two princes underwent a lot of tough times in their childhood. “Feminine boys tend to be targets of bullying, whether you are gay or not,” Lin says. “My childhood memory was as bad as it can be.”
Lin was teased as a “cream puff”, a nickname for feminine boys, for his femininity and was bullied at schools. He was once dragged out of a toilet cubicle by bullies. “If I talked back, they would become more violent,” Lin says. “At that time, I chose not to go to a restroom if there were many students there.”
Having suffered from years of bullying, Lin concealed his sexual orientation to avoid being attacked. He decided not to keep it as a shameful secret when studying at a high school.
“Whenever I was asked if I am gay, I replied, ‘Yes, I am. What’s the matter?’” Lin recalls. He found that people would respect him more when he answered the question this way. If he attempted to shy away, others would tease him.
Yuan was attacked by his classmates violently as he had more female friends than other boys. “Once I went to play billiards with some female classmates, some boys dragged me to an alley and assaulted me with helmets and baseball bats,” Yuan says.
“Whenever I was asked if I am gay, I replied, ‘Yes, I am. What’s the matter?’”
Their first encounter was in Shih Chien University when they were grouped in a physical education lesson. They chatted with each other through video calls every day after school.
Lin soon confessed his love to Yuan. “I like you. Do you want to be with me?” Lin did not dare to see the reply so he turned off his computer but Yuan made his decision without thinking much unexpectedly. “Sure! We can try it,” Yuan answered.
They cohabited in Lin’s place after dating for about a year. Lin’s family gradually grew fond of Yuan as they get used to his presence. “I hope they can feel our love directly,” Lin says. “It’s important to change their heart little by little in this way.”
Lin came out to his mother when he was in high school, but his mother thought homosexuality was something bad. “I would like my family to know my significant other and let them realize that gay couples can also engage in a stable relationship,” Lin says.
Yuan came out to his mother a month before he proposed to Lin, but in fact his mother knew every thing from the beginning. At the night he came out, his mother could even tell the name of Lin or how long they had been together.
When Yuan concealed his sexual orientation, his mother faced everything alone. “Now I send these kind of videos about homosexual people and their family to let her realize that this is natural, and that she is not alone in the situation,” Yuan says.
“Maybe it is because we gave our family lots of time to observe and to accept us gradually. So family conflict was avoided,” Lin says.
LGBT right in Taiwan
Starting from 1990s, Taiwan LGBT rights movement has gone from pride parades, constitutional interpretation to referendum. It was a landmark moment when same-sex marriage was legalized after the Legislative Yuan passed the act. “Taiwan is a blessed country where human rights are valued, which makes me feel so proud,” Lin says. Taiwan is the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
A rainbow showed up in the sky after the Legislative Yuan members voted to approve same-sex marriage. “Ever since I realized I was gay, I believed that it was almost impossible for me to marry my love,” Lin says.
“When Yuan told me that the bill same-sex legislative act was passed, I couldn’t help but bursting into tear. I almost cried my eyes out!”
The Legislative Yuan, the supreme legislative organization of Taiwan, is equivalent to a parliament in other democratic states. Legislators are elected by the people every four years to exercise legislative power.
The pair was one of the 20 couples who married on May 24, 2019, in an event organized by Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan. They became the first group of couples to sign the official paper. It took them a few minutes to complete the official registration, but LGBT community had fought 40 years for their right to get married.
“When I held my identity card in my hand, I got goose bumps,” Lin says.
At first, it was embarrassing for them to call each other husband in the public. “But now I can say it out loud,” Lin says. “People treat us with a friendly attitude.”
“Public attitude toward gay marriage has changed a lot after the legalization in Taiwan,” Lin says. “What impressed me most is that they same-sex couples started holding hands on streets after the act was passed,” Yuan adds.
“Those who oppose same-sex marriage are not forced to shift their ground to support it immediately,” Lin says. “Give them some time. Only time will tell.”
A family of he, he and it
This year, Yuan and Lin adopted a white Shiba Inu dog. Yuan records its daily life via its Instagram account. “When it is tired after playing around, it lies on my chest sometimes,” Yuan says. “Looking at its sleepy face, I am as happy as a clam.”
Expenses of their son-like dog turn out to be their sweetest burden. “It is different from the time when we were dating,” they say. “Our ‘son’ gives us feeling of having a warm nest.”
“I really thank myself for willing to reveal the secret when I was in high school,” Lin says. “If I had not, it might be impossible for me to confess to the one I love.”
Recalling their first date and encounter, Yuan says it is their fate. “It is Lin who unlocked my heart and made me who I am. I thank him for confessing to me and being a part of my life.”
Edited by Lambert Siu
Sub-edited by Cynthia Sit