02CC9: Non-Migration Thinking

Sunday Taipei

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 1205

I'm trying to settle the day's blog entry early because we're going to spend the evening traveling back to Manila. As much as I could blog on my phone while waiting at the airport, it's a lot easier to handle things before we check out.

It's our last day in Taipei and I think we generally had a good trip. We still spent a lot of time within the immediate area of the hotel, but that still meant a lot of exploring and a serious effort to get to know this space better. Cue me making a promise to blog about this more in the future once I've collected my thoughts more, but realistically that'll get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day living.

One thing that always comes up when we travel is trying to imagine if we'd want to live in a particular country for the long term. The willingness to leave your country behind almost feels like a truly Filipino trait at this point, something that only gets reinforced with every shitty new administration coming into power. So we ask the question - is Taiwan a place we'd ever consider moving to? After all, this is a country that has actually legalized same-sex marriage and all that.

The short answer is no. A few notes.

As LGBT-friendly as Taiwan is based on prevailing legislation and all that fun stuff, the local queer scene (at least in Ximending in Taipei) is...weird? Pink establishments in Metro Manila (at least) are loud and very in-your-face with drag shows and odd public events and all that fun stuff. An average Friday or Saturday night in the queer area of Ximending around the Red House feels...quiet. Muted even. It all just felt so tame with everyone just sitting down for drinks and only one bar having a drag show consisting of queens just walking between tables and making the most of a very limited performance space.

Sure there's a rainbow crosswalk and a lot of establishments have rainbow coloring here and there, but I don't know how truly welcome we're supposed to feel. I'm sure it's partly the language barrier (another factor against moving) and not being able to talk to people directly, but on the whole, I didn't necessarily feel anything in particular in terms of our queerness. Maybe this is what it feels for things to be super normalized and walking around in matching couple's shirts while holding hands no longer gets a reaction. Or maybe it's that Asian sense of politeness of trying to actively ignore things you're not comfortable with in order to not make a scene.

Would we visit Taiwan again? Probably? There's still a lot more to see and we only really explored Ximending and the touristy bits of the northern coast, so that's not a lot. And there are other queer enclaves in other cities and such, and it would be interesting to see if things are any different versus what we've experienced so far.

But we're still going home to our much lambasted-country of the Philippines and despite the crap, it's still home and still feels right. Our LGBT-enabling legislation is little to none and we don't even live in a city with particularly strong pro-LGBT support, but it's also where all our friends are and where places like O Bar thrive and all that good stuff. Maybe the solution to considering if we'll ever move to another country is figuring out how to bring that experience with us. It seems unlikely that we'll ever find a country that does drag like the Philippines does (we've been checking!) and maybe our long-term retirement effort would be to put up that sort of an establishment somewhere else and see if we can succeed. I dunno - we come up with crazy ideas while sipping Black Russians at a bar that doesn't even play its own music.

See you soon, Manila. Such a loveable piece of shit metropolis.