More than 1,200 Taiwanese people attended a mock “wedding banquet” in Taipei on Saturday, September 28. Held outside the presidential office, the celebration was intended to gain support for a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and civil partnership.
The wedding, so often critiqued for its reflection of conformity and consensus, is a site of very real cultural and political power. Just as gay men and lesbians in the United States have embraced weddings – both mass celebrations and private rites – to bring attention to persisting inequalities, these Taiwanese advocates used the celebration to demonstrate commitment to marriage equality. As noted by 22-year-old student Richard Chen, “This looks likes a traditional wedding scene and even if it’s not real, I think a picture is worth a thousand words and I hope we will get more public attention and support for same-sex marriages.” In my book, As Long As We Both Shall Love, I argue that American queers successfully adopted the wedding as a site of political advocacy. By adopting a celebration with which the public is familiar and establishing the nature of their demands through a language of love and commitment, gays and lesbians effectively built an ever-increasing alliance in efforts to achieve marriage equality. As marriage equality activists worldwide press for legal recognition of same-sex unions, the wedding may become an increasingly valuable political tool as well as a more recognized site of power.