Make The Connection, Global

Exploring Identities

June 12, 2017 – by Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan students Ryan Bishop (left) and Spencer Zhang (right) earned a Theory-to-Practice Grant to support research into the status of LGBT+ rights in Taiwan. Their visit included interviewing legislator Yu Mei Nu, a leading advocate for same-sex marriage in Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Bishop ’17)

Ohio Wesleyan Students Study LGBT+ Issues in Taiwan

Name: Ryan Bishop ’17
Major: Zoology
Minor: East Asian Studies
Hometown: Sofia, Bulgaria
Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Island Queerness: A Study on the Experiences of Taiwanese Queer People”

Bishop and Spencer Zhang ’19 of Leshan, China, traveled to Taiwan for two weeks in May to study LGBT+ issues. Their visit included touring the exhibit for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, in front of the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, and interviewing legislator Yu Mei Nu, an advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights in the East Asian state.

Lessons learned: “In Taiwan, we saw a society with different values within which the Taiwanese queer community fit in different ways than in the societies of other countries, but still experienced some of the same struggles. I learned that queer communities everywhere face internal division often, but also that queer folks everywhere are incredibly resilient and won't back down from fighting for their rights and safety.

“It was also interesting to learn about how different Taiwan has become from China in many ways, but how some values that seem common in East Asian societies linger there, too. The presence of multiple widespread religions – Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, and Confucianism – painted a diverse picture of the way religion can interact with being part of the LGBT+ community.

“A most notable part of our trip was witnessing a historic landmark ruling by the Taiwanese supreme court, which declared that the current marriage law in Taiwan is unconstitutional and must be changed to allow same-sex marriage. Thus, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to take a leap toward legalizing same-sex marriage. Seeing the celebrations and the pride of the people who had fought for this for decades was breathtaking.”

Why I chose OWU: “I came to Ohio Wesleyan because of the amazing zoology program and because of the good financial aid I was offered. Going to OWU has allowed me to branch out in numerous other ways, too.”

My plans after graduation: “I hope to work in wildlife conservation and continue being a social justice activist.”