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New Art Installation Celebrates Taiwanese Queerness At Pride Toronto

ABOVE: Adam Zivo stands in front of the 20-foot “Yass Taiwan” fabric mural on Church Street at Pride Toronto's 2024 festival

New Art Installation Celebrates Taiwanese Queerness At Pride Toronto

A colourful 20-foot fabric mural, titled “Yass Taiwan,” is celebrating Taiwan’s queer community at Pride Toronto’s 2024 festival…

A colourful visual art installation is celebrating Taiwan’s queer community at Pride Toronto this year. The 20-foot fabric mural, titled “Yass Taiwan,” features an exuberant collage of photos taken at Taipei Pride and is intended to raise awareness of the country’s role as a regional trailblazer for LGBTQ rights.

Taiwan’s progressive democratic culture and robust anti-discrimination laws have made it a safe haven for gender and sexual minorities. Rainbows and gay bars are an uncontroversial sight in the country’s capital, Taipei, where Asia’s largest Pride parade is held every year, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants. In 2019, the country broke new ground by becoming the first in Asia to legalize same sex marriage.

But not many westerners know about Taiwan or its remarkable successes with LGBTQ-inclusion, says Adam Zivo, the artist behind Yass Taiwan.

“Canadians aren’t really familiar with Taiwan, which is unfortunate because, if they were to visit the country, they would be amazed. The local queer community is so vibrant and there is a strong sense that human rights will only continue to improve there. Considering that global support for LGBTQ rights is currently eroding, I think this needs to be celebrated and studied,”  said Zivo.

He expressed hope that, by using photography to evoke the joy of Taipei Pride in Toronto, his mural can help Canadians interrogate their assumptions about queer life in East Asia and encourage more LGBTQ tourism to Taiwan. He also emphasized the need for more East Asian representation in Canada’s cultural institutions, whether queer or not, as Asian communities are sometimes “overlooked” by diversity and inclusion initiatives.

New Art Installation Celebrates Taiwanese Queerness At Pride Toronto

Yass Taiwan can be found on Church Street, just south of Carlton Street, until 11pm Sunday night. Festival volunteers are also handing out thousands of postcards featuring the same photos that are included on the mural. The project was funded through a partnership between Pride Toronto and the Taiwanese government. 

“Taiwan is committed to creating a society where everyone can live authentically and without fear of discrimination. By supporting this project, we hope to honour the courage and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community and contribute to a global movement towards equality and justice for all,” said Jin Ling Chen, Director-General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Toronto.

“Supporting international queer communities through art is essential for fostering global understanding and solidarity. Yass Taiwan highlights the rich tapestry of East Asian Queer Culture, emphasizing themes of identity, acceptance and resilience that resonate universally,” said Bobby MacPherson, Pride Toronto’s Senior Director of Operations.

Zivo is best known for his columns in the National Post and for founding and directing LoveisLoveisLove, a Toronto-based LGBTQ awareness campaign, in the late 2010s. In recent years, he has produced two similar projects for Pride Toronto – a 2022 mural featuring queer Ukrainian activists, and a 2023 mural exploring queer experiences in Serbia. The Serbian mural, “LGBT je Srbija,” has been reinstalled at Pride Toronto this year and is located beside Yass Taiwan.

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