As Taiwan enters its third year of same-sex marriage legalisation, the perennial question of what issues and communities will be centred in Taiwan’s LGBTQ+ movement continues to loom large.
Written by Daniel Yo-Ling
Image credit: MangakaMaiden Photography, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
In this article, I consider the landscape of contemporary LGBTQ+ activism in Taiwan from the perspective of Taiwan’s asexual community by drawing on recent findings from the 2021 Taiwan Asexual Community Survey. Despite a general disinterest in marriage and traditional family formation practices, Taiwan’s asexual community is nevertheless supportive of and an important constituent in current LGBTQ+ advocacy efforts.
Asexuality in Taiwan
The term ‘asexuality’ encompasses a spectrum of sexual orientations that describe people who experience little to no sexual attraction. The three most common sexual orientations on the asexual spectrum are: asexual people, who do not experience sexual attraction; graysexual people, who share limited amounts of sexual attraction in terms of frequency and/or intensity; and demisexual people, who do not experience sexual attraction towards another person unless or until they have formed an emotional connection with them. In addition, people in the asexual community distinguish between sexual orientation and romantic orientation, or the desire to form a romantic partnership, to further specify the kinds of attraction they feel towards others. For instance, someone identifying as an aromantic asexual does not experience sexual or romantic attraction. In contrast, someone identifying as an alloromantic demisexual experiences romantic attraction but can only experience sexual attraction after forming an emotional connection.
The spectrums of asexuality and aromanticism were largely developed through online communities that formed in the late 1990s, with the largest online community, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), being founded in 2001. Taiwan’s asexual community was first organised in 2013 through AVEN’s forums. A Taiwan asexuals Facebook group was started shortly thereafter, with in-person meetings starting in 2014. Taiwan’s asexual community also participated in Taiwan LGBT Pride for the first time in 2014. Since 2014, Taiwan’s asexual community has steadily organised on various social media platforms (PTT, Facebook, Line, YouTube, DCard, etc.), with the largest and most active being 台灣無性戀小組 Taiwan Asexual Group. Taiwan Asexual Group has been hosting regular community gatherings, advocating for asexual visibility, and providing an online hub for people in Taiwan on or exploring the asexual and aromantic spectrum since 2014.
In 2021, the Taiwan Asexual Group conducted a Taiwan Asexual Community Survey to increase asexual visibility and provide a resource for aspec (an abbreviation for asexual/aromantic spectrum) people in Taiwan. The 2021 Taiwan Asexual Community Survey consisted of 70 questions covering basic demographics, gender identity, sexual and romantic orientation, sexual behaviour and attitudes, ideal living situation, and views on legal initiatives. It received a total of 397 valid responses, making it the largest dedicated dataset on Taiwan’s asexual community to date.
In what follows, I draw from the 2021 survey results to discuss Taiwan’s asexual community’s involvement in the broader LGBTQ+ movement. Since the legalisation of same-sex marriage on May 24, 2019, Taiwan’s LGBTQ+ movement has largely focused on three initiatives: transnational marriage equality, adoption and reproductive rights, and transgender rights.