Saturday 12th I went to Ximending for the first time in 4 years.
I’m back in Taiwan, this time dragging my parents and sister along, but last Saturday they left for a bike trip by the rivers while I went to re-explore Ximending by myself.
Ximending hasn’t changed much. Metro station still has a Mr. Donut downstairs and it’s just as crowded as always around the intersection above the station and down the main shopping streets. (The ones with banners and little advertisement boxes for sitting on.)
Though, this time I went there pretty focused on finding Red House, since I heard there’s an LGBT hub just by it. Found out there’s even an exit from the MRT station that says Red House and sends you straight to this place. (Or maybe not straight, hehe.) It’s the one I posted a photo of further up the post.
Right behind it there’s a dozen or more gay bars/clubs/etc. which I have also passed by several times 4 years ago without even realising the obvious rainbow flags everywhere. Or maybe they didn’t have those flags back then, I wouldn’t be able to tell either way. Anyway, these are known as “the gay village”, and I wish I could tell more about them, but that’ll be after I get some more time off from taking care of my parents, when I’ve explored the queer parts of Taipei. Which might not necessarily happen this year.
I read up on some stuff before going there. Found out some interesting info about the lesbian culture here @ Autostraddle: Queer Girls City Guide Taipei. Now, Taipei has free wifi almost everywhere, because their government decided that would be a good idea. So using this I tried to get to the article only to be told it was blocked due to profane material. “Promoting indecent acts” is apparently illegal here, so I guess that’s why. Pretty homophobic, though, to block a resource detailing where to get a coffee or a drink along with fellow queers. Hrmpf. Not nice, Taipei City!
Anyway, setting up a proxy is easy these days, so I quickly got around it and learned about some nice places. Seriously give it a read if you’re in Taipei and would like to run into some girl loving girls. Also learned that they have this kind of butch/femme thing going on called Tomboys/Pos, and particularly that Tomboys (the butch-ey ones) tend to crossdress pretty hardcore, binders being (from a European viewpoint) unusually widely used along with other things. Keeping this in mind, my gaydar started going off like crazy around Ximending, and I just couldn’t help sneaking a peek on the tomboyish girl helping me try stuff at a jewelry store, trying to find out if she might be wearing a binder under that shirt. Can’t say I have a keen eye for binders, and especially not on Asian women, so I couldn’t really tell. But I had a lot of fun spotting queer-looking girls that day.
So crowded, huh?
Anyway, I got to see Red House eventually. The photo at the end of this post is Ximen Red House. It has some artists booths selling all sorts of interesting stuff inside, and a small museum with only Chinese descriptions of a bunch of old paraphernalia that I assume is related to the running of the building as opera, cinema, bookstore, theater, etc. through the times. – Yeah, it’s been used for a lot of different things.
Only part of the stuff behind the house – the gay bars/cafes/etc. I got to experience was a guy from New Zealand who were on his way to get drunk over there and wanted to ask me if I was a fellow New Zealander because of my black spiral earring which looks like something the aborigines from over there uses. The reason why I never got to that, I’ll explain later, because I think it might deserve a post to itself.