FEATURE PHOTOS FROM THE HONOLULU RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL PRESS KIT
Taiwan Equals Love will be streaming free from now until August 14th on GagaOOLala, Asia’s largest on-demand platform for LGBTQ content. English subtitles are available.
It’s not June, but that doesn’t mean that we’re done celebrating Pride. This summer, the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival is holding its 32nd annual film screening from July 30th to August 15th, celebrating and raising awareness for the LGBTQ community. The virtual event features a wide selection of shorts and documentaries from across the world, all of them free, but some for only a limited window of time.
Among the lineup is the 2020 documentary, Taiwan Equals Love, which explores the relationships of three same-sex couples across a three-year period of time. From 2016, when drafts of the marriage equality act were proposed but later pushed back by anti-LGBTQ opposition groups, to 2019, when Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, we’re able to follow and chronologically live through each family’s struggles, perseverance, and emotional roller coaster rides as the right to marry and secure a legal guarantee for their relationship seems at once within reach, yet distantly far.
The film’s original title in Chinese, 《同愛一家》, which translates directly to “same love one home,” quite wholly captures the message of the documentary. While open to interpretation, it can generally be understood as the love between a same-sex couple being the equivalent of having a home, and that love, in all its forms, can bring all people together as one family.
The first couple introduced in the film is Jovi and Mindy, a pair who went from lovers to friends, then back to lovers. Jovi has a daughter, Miao, from her past relationship, and she persistently works to allow Miao to embrace Mindy as her second mom, and also for society to become more accepting of their unique family structure. The second couple featured is Tien-Ming and Hsiang, a duo eighteen years apart, who met at a gay bar many decades ago. Though Tien-Ming is relatively young compared to Hsiang, he too feels the effect of aging as he watches Hsiang’s memory deteriorate, little by little. Their greatest wish is to be able to get married, before one of them passes. The final pair introduced is A-Gu and Hsinchi. A-Gu is from Macau, and Hsinchi a Taiwan native; after A-Gu moves to Taiwan and ends their long distance relationship, the pair is faced with a new challenge: working out A-Gu’s visa issue, something that a straight couple would be able to solve with marriage.
Taiwan Equals Love is refreshing in that instead of flatly preaching that homosexuality is good, it instead teaches that queerness is both normal and okay. It doesn’t just tell viewers to be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but rather illustrates, through small but heartwarming moments, the value in doing so.
The rawness and vulnerability of each relationship make everything all the more relatable; though the experiences I was personally able to connect with were watered-down versions of what they went, and may still, be going through:
A-Gu and Hsinchi’s story reminded me of the powerlessness I felt when trying to maintain a friendship that was a country away. With Jovi and Mindy, I saw them unconditionally shower Miao, who isn’t biologically related to either mom, with the same type of love that my parents give to my brother and me. And in Tien-Ming and Hsiang, I saw reflected the relationship of my own grandparents, and the inevitable toll of time; like Hsiang, my grandmother has Parkinson’s, and has come to gradually rely more and more on my grandfather, who like Tien-Ming, must always be there to provide constant care. Each individual is all too real, and it’s difficult to not empathize with them.
Taiwan Equals Love provides a much-needed window of connection, where any viewer can t reach in and for a moment, share in their experiences and begin to understand the world of queerness: their joys, their worries, why they so desperately needed for the law to be passed, and the significance of the milestone.
Admittedly, I had my initial reservations about watching the film, but I’m glad that I watched it—not just once, but twice. The second time really brought out a new layer of reflection, and changed my neutral position to a much more understanding and supportive view. It’s truly amazing what eighty-five minutes can do, and I hope that director Sopfia Yen’s magic can continue to educate and warm the hearts of many more.
Though I would have appreciated more of a follow-up to each individual story—were A-Gu and Hsinchi able to overcome the transnational challenge?—the documentary ended on a satisfying, and inspirational note, showing us what love and perseverance can do.
By the end of the film, all the events had me thinking: how will we know that enough has been done? I reached the conclusion that the work would be finished when we no longer need films like this to remind us that we’re all equal. And perhaps by then, the majority of members across society, in Taiwan and the rest of the world, will be able to accept the LGBTQ community as part of humanity’s one big family, 一家, respecting them all the same.
For now though, films like this will still play a significant role in the quest towards equality. Taiwan Equals Love will be streaming free from now until August 14th on GagaOOLala, Asia’s largest on-demand platform for LGBTQ content. English subtitles are available, and if you have an hour and a half to spare, definitely check it out!
Guest contributor Jessica Cheng is a high school junior and second-gen Taiwanese American living in the Bay Area. In her free time, she likes baking jiggly pudding, browsing Reddit, and snuggling with her dog Mojito, whose namesake comes from Jay Chou’s hit song.