Love Wins in Taiwan, the Heart of East Asia – Yu-Jen Dai

This, our first post for Pride Month, is a dazzling mix of LGBTQ and gender issues, Asian Christian identity, global Lutheranism, as well as education about one of the world’s most distinct cultures and nations: Taiwan. To say much more would be to give away too much, so we will just end with a sincere ‘thank-you’ to our author, Evangeline (Yu-Jen) Dai for her time – and all the rest of you? Read, comment, and share!

Francisco Herrera, PhD student and Interim Blog Editor

lutheran queer

I do not like politics, but I have to say this:

My home country, Taiwan, is an independent country that has been oppressed by the Chinese government on many international occasions.

Taiwan has its own government, president, currency, and constitution; people in Taiwan can vote; the passport of Taiwan is green, not red (scarlet) as China… Taiwan is an independent country, not a province of China.

Why does this matter for the PRIDE Month?

Because Taiwan is the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage (see: Wikipedia, PBS, or Google it for more).

map asia

I would say the climax of its legalizing process came along the way of my first year of seminary.

Not only for same-sex marriage, but Taiwan has also been working on gender equity as well. In my first semester of seminary, I took a Christian Ethics course, and my group presentation topic was “cisgender privilege” and how to interrupt the systemic injustice of that privilege. Through my research, I found out that during the 5 years since I left Taiwan, radical movements for gender equity in Taiwan were vigorous – most importantly because of the government’s support.

All-gender restrooms were set in many public places. The Gender Equity Education Act has been revised many times when a new need emerged. I have to say, to faster confront systematic injustice, my government’s ruling would be sufficient. Taiwan is a democratic country, but individualism is not a thing, most people will follow the rules even unwillingly. Wearing uniforms in school is a tradition in Taiwan, binary one as girls are forced to wear skirts; now some schools break that tradition and allow boys to wear skirts, and they really did, in order to show inclusion for gender diversity.

senior high
New Taipei Municipal Panchiao Senior High School, Taiwan

On 24 May 2017, the Constitutional Court of Taiwan ruled that the then-current marriage law was unconstitutional and that the constitutional right to equality and freedom of marriage guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry as well (Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748). Political opposition to this legislation tried to fight and request a popular vote, then in November 2018, the Taiwanese electorate passed referendums to prevent the recognition of same-sex marriages in the Civil Code and to restrict teaching sex education with LGBT issues. I remember I was so sad and hid myself in the room crying. My classmates understood I was having a hard time and they were very supportive for me.

gay taiwan

The sad part of it was that many groups oppose same-sex marriage using the Bible and Christian faith to support their ideas. They made most people believe Christian = anti-gay. But this creates hatred and is not helpful in bring people to Christ… Thankfully, there are still some affirming Christians who work very hard to show the real inclusive love of God to people.

After the vote, the Government responded by confirming that the Court’s ruling would be implemented and that the referendums could not support laws contrary to the Constitution. On May 17, 2019, the Legislative Yuan approved the same-sex marriage bill; on the same day, after heavy rains, a rainbow showed up in the sky, people posted the rainbow photos and said even God approves the bill. The bill took effect on 24 May 2019.

Presidential Office Building of Taiwan with the rainbow on May 17, 2019. From Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen‘s Facebook page

However, this did not bring the fight to an end.

The legislation for same-sex marriage only applies to the couples that all both from the countries permit same-sex marriage. Many same-sex couples have a partner in China, Japan, Southeast Asia, etc. these couples are still not able to get married. So the next level of activism is to advocate change for full inclusion, so the partners of Taiwanese citizens from other parts of Asia can get married and apply for naturalization in Taiwan.

gay protest

Now, allow me to share something interesting from my cultural background. There are different Chinese characters and phrases for the English word “marry” shows the gender roles in ancient Chinese tradition:

1. For females’ action to marry a man is 嫁 (Jià), which is combined by two words: 女 (, means female, girl, or woman) at the left and 家 (Jiā, means home, family) at the right — for a woman to get married is making the woman have a new home. Another explanation is “a woman can only form her own home after she gets married.”


2. For males’ action to marry a woman is 娶 (), which is combined by two words: 取 (, means to obtain, to acquire, to receive, etc.) at the top and 女 (, means female, girl, or woman) at the bottom — for a man to get married is taking a woman.


3. A common phrase for all genders is 結婚, which means to establish/conclude a wedding/marriage. However, the first word 結 (Jié) is the verb, that means to establish/conclude, the second word 婚 (Hūn) is a noun, which means marriage. Most same-sex couples will use this phrase as the verb for their marriage.

The Chinese characters for marriage “婚” “姻” content the element 女 (, means female, girl, or woman). What could that mean? Is it a good thing or a bad thing to emphasize women in the “traditional marriage” (a term frequently used by Chinese users)? Actually, similar to ancient Israel, in ancient China, women have no right of themselves, but as goods that men would take the women home.

As a result, I found it problematic for same-sex gay couples to use these words for marriage. I asked some gay friends in Taiwan that how do they feel about it, they kind of just accept it; unless they want to use restrained classical Chinese to say “get married”: 成親 (Chéng Qīn) which literally means “become relatives/in-laws” but have been used as “get married.” But this phrase only exists in historical dramas and novels, we don’t use it in contemporary speech.

From this example, we can see how heterosexism has dominated the world and how women have been suppressed in this culture for so long, and we know better that there are more cultures and traditions which think similarly.

We are lucky to live in a world that is more open and just for gender equity and sexual justice, yet we have a lot of work to do. In some corners of the world, our siblings are still being discriminated against.

We shout, we pray, and we hope. One day, there will be no more tears…

For Taiwan, the first female president was elected and served since 2016; she was just re-elected for the term of 2020 to 2024.

Let us pray:

Eternal God, we thank you for the multi-colored rainbow that reminds us of your covenant with all. Help us learn to see the beauty and dignity in the colors of all people, as we see the beauty in the colors of the rainbows. Let all the world celebrate every person you created in your image; with faith, not with fear; with hope, not with despair; with love, not with hate. Heal all who are wounded, grant us the courage to continue proclaiming the gospel with diversity and inclusion.

We pray in the name of Christ, Amen.


Evangeline (Yu-Jen) Dai is a MDiv student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of CLU, a candidate for Word and Sacrament ministry with TX-LA Gulf Coast synod. She was born and grew up in Taiwan, converted to Christianity in 2013, moved to the US (Houston) in 2014, joined Faith Lutheran Church, Bellaire, TX in 2015, and moved to Berkeley for seminary in Fall 2018. Evangeline likes arts, graphic design, and crafting. She has a YouTube channel as a side ministry for music videos featuring ELW hymns sung in Mandarin; she also translates contemporary hymns from English to Chinese or vice versa. Embracing diversity and advocating for minority are her passion; except gospels, her favorite Bible verse is Galatians 3:28.

Not the Land of Canaan, Sweetheart – Crystal Ann Solie, M.Div.

IMG_4512On June 28, 1969 – early in the morning – a group of bar patrons, gay and lesbian, transgender and cross-dressing and queer – fought back against police officers attempting to raid a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City, The Stonewall Inn. And since then, thousands of cities across the world celebrate June 28, and the entire month of June as well, and the socio-political breakthrough of that night. To commemorate this month, colleague Crystal Ann Solie has agreed to give her own very poignant commentary on the recent Supreme Court decision Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission as well as what this means for her as a lesbian and a devoted follower of Jesus. We won’t give away much more than that, as she speaks much of herself in the piece, but especially encourage church leadership to ask themselves to reflect on how they ask for LGBTQIA+ members of their churches to fully support their ministries if the churches themselves don’t fully support them. Read, comment, and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”

joseph dines with his brothers
Joseph Dines With His Brothers – Yoram Raanan

A child betrayed by their family is sold into slavery and dragged off to another country to  experience further mistreatment and injustice. This child then comes into power when strangers trust him with a task seemingly beyond his state. This task, however, is the work the child has been ordained to perform to save their community and ultimately, the family that betrayed him.

The Joseph narrative in Genesis draws connections to my life as gay woman as few texts can.

Admittedly, the insult, insensitivity, and uncertainty I have experienced are not the same as being sold into slavery as Joseph was. However, it did cause me to feel trapped and reminded me that I was not being treated the same as the majority of families around me.

The world was a different landscape for same-sex couples in 2008 when my soon-to-be wife and I were making plans for our nuptials. A process that was supposed to be joyful, maybe fun, and certainly stressful for us was instead stained with anxiety.

Would we find a venue, a florist, or a baker that would take our business as a same-sex couple? We certainly weren’t expecting to find a church for the event given the volatile climate following the 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) policy change regarding same sex clergy in committed relationships.

Further distressing was that we weren’t even getting legally married. For this reason and because I did not feel welcome having our ceremony in a church, I didn’t call it a wedding throughout our planning. We had a piece of paper from Cook County (IL) that said we were Domestic Partners. That was it. We wouldn’t have a Civil Union until 2012, wouldn’t be legally married until 2013, and wouldn’t have that marriage recognized in the state where we lived until 2015.

Click here to see the awesome video

However, we were fortunate. We found service providers for every aspect of our special day. We had a great venue, fantastic food, and were surrounded by our friends and family who have championed our marriage from the start. Legally, no one was required to give us any of this, but they chose to of their own free will. Whether they were simply business decisions or choices made to treat us with equality, I cannot be certain.

If it sounds complicated, you’re right. It is and it shouldn’t have to be complicated to treat people with dignity.

Our family has navigated the changing social climate with patience and persistence. We have achieved a level of emotional, spiritual, and financial stability. I imagine this is how Joseph felt, having come into power and being placed on a pedestal in Egypt. However, many same-sex couples do not have plans turn out as we did.

Two recent court cases give rise to the fact that there are still business that do not want and will not accept the patronage of LGBTQIA* individuals or couples.

On June 4, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. A same-sex couple went to the bakery looking to order a cake for their wedding and was told by the baker that he does not make cakes for same sex weddings. The baker was investigated by the Commission and found to be in violation of the state’s non-discrimination statutes, a decision which was upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals. In this case, SCOTUS ruled that the proceedings that let the Commission’s investigation and findings against the baker infringed upon the baker’s freedom of speech and religion.

Owners of the Masterpiece Cakeshop walking with lawyer and supporters

In the decision of the court, Justice Kennedy noted, “However later cases raising these or similar concerns are resolved in the future, for these reasons the rulings of the Commission and of the state court that enforced the Commission’s order must be invalidated.” (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 U.S. ___ (2018)) This means that a future case could be brought against the same baker for the same reason, but maintains that the investigations for such activity must be conducted with respect and dignity afforded to all parties, including the baker. This seems fair to me.

In short, the SCOTUS ruling does not give businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQIA folks.

Immediately following the SCOTUS ruling, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on Brush & Nib Studio v City of Phoenix. In this case, the studio’s artists argued that the City’s non-discrimination ordinance infringed upon the artists’ first amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion to refuse to create wedding invitations for same-sex couples. The court ruled that while a custom invitation might constitute such an infringement, the act of writing the names of two women or two men on a basic invitation design did not.

This, again, is a fair ruling to me and a protection that can be applied to all people. As one business is free to refuse to create a custom wedding invitation for a same-sex couple, another business is also free to refuse to create a custom sign for an LGBTQIA conversion camps or an organization that works to hinder LGBTQIA rights.

The end result of both cases is that all people should be afforded dignity and people should not be denied basic services.


I’ve seen the meme, “All I’m saying is that I believe Jesus would bake the damn cake.” I agree, yes, Jesus would have baked the cake and he would have invited others to join him in baking the cake…

…but he would not compel anyone to bake the cake.

Jesus, however, would compel us to build relationships that would make sure everyone had cake for any occasion they wanted or needed it. Relationships where we are called to mutually sustain each other instead of pointing out faults or claiming religious superiority or righteousness.

As an MDiv graduate who didn’t have any interviews for first call, I have moved across the country and found work in corporate America’s IT sector where new tasks and titles are awarded to me regularly. Sitting in a pew during a congregation’s capital campaign presentation presents a certain irony to me.

It’s a curious position to be in, standing in a place of economic privilege while facing ongoing marginalization.


Much like Joseph’s brothers, the Church comes to me looking for resources. Reticent to honor my call, the Church is always willing to cash my check or use my training without placing me on the payroll.

I realize now how much courage it took Joseph to speak the words that would openly identify his relationship and solidify his commitment to the family that betrayed him. He didn’t ignore their need, but reminded them of their relationship. I’m not quite there yet, but the words are in my heart, waiting to come out and to be received and accepted and loved.

“Come closer…I am your brother” (Genesis 45.4).

29025477_10215588491602483_2981151768359054516_nCrystal Solie is a graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (MDiv 2012) currently living in Orange Park, Florida with her wife and two daughters. She currently works as an Information Technology analyst and serves as a leader for the Pride business resource group for a global banking firm. In her free time, Crystal enjoys grilling, story telling, and singing with her family.

*LGBTQIA = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and Ally; the term is intended to be inclusive of all non-heterosexual and non-binary gender persons .