Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Women's and Gender Studies


Matt Brim

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | East Asian Languages and Societies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | International Relations | Social and Cultural Anthropology


legalizing same-sex marriage, compressed modernity, tongzhi movement, digital activism, human rights, identity politics


In 2019, Taiwan became the first Asian country to officially legalize same-sex marriage. Remarkably, the Taiwanese queer movement achieved the goal of marriage equality in only 30 years, with the first tongzhi (同志) activist group organized in 1990. Compared to Euro-American social movements, Taiwanese tongzhi activism has experienced a “compressed modernity” (Chang, 1999, 2010a, 2010b), which accelerates cultural and social transformations. Although Taiwanese academia has been significantly influenced by queer studies as a form of western knowledge production, local scholars and activists created a new interpretation from “queer” to “tongzhi.” Entangled with complex political identifications in post-martial-law Taiwan, tongzhi activism had thrived over the past 30 years. In this vein, the contemporary same-sex marriage movement had been intertwined with non-normative sexualities, perplexing national identities, and Cross-Strait geopolitics between “two Chinas.” Answering how, why, and who about the compressed modernity of legalizing gay marriage in Taiwan, I argue tongzhi groups shrewdly employed social media to mobilize people on the streets, deployed “human rights” discourse to summon the communal attachment, and performed identity politics with complex sexual and political identities in this rainbow assemblage. These three accelerated the process of tongzhi modernization but also condensed the ideological contestation, negotiation, and reconciliation. I also highlight that the deployment of “human rights” discourse cannot be reduced to a national project but rather reflects a grassroots perseverance, refuting speculation about Taiwanese “homonationalism.” I offer a perspective “from below” to deny the statement of “queer liberalism” in Taiwan (Liu, 2015), arguing that this movement does not embody an extension of American imperialism against China nor rely on domestic bipartisanship. Against an “either…or” inquiry, I contend this grassroots force acted in a “third-way” strategy by wavering among political constraints via its non-governmental and non-normative role to survive among power relations for tongzhi and Taiwan’s subjectivity.