The issue of same-sex marriage arouses a considerable discussion nowadays, contrasting argument show up in different countries, discourses between LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and anti-homosexuality seem more problematic. It could be argued that the grand narrative of sexual orientation still strong in the world. In 2019, Taiwan becomes the first place in Asia which legalised same-sex marriage. The constitutional court introduced the law ‘Press Release On the Same-Sex Marriage Case’ in 2017, after 2 years, it has been processed by parliament. However, there were many anti-same-sex groups and citizens against this law, they claimed that the ruling party ignored public consciousness, since the consequences of referendums show that majority of the voters was refused same-sex marriage. According to the Central Election Commission (2018), more than 7 million citizens disagreed with this law and it was a gigantic gap between the two-party votes. Therefore, this essay will discuss the grand narrative of sexual orientation, and focus on two firm ideologies which namely that Chinese culture and Christianity. This essay first describes the concept of the grand narrative introduced by Lyotard, then analyses how both Chinese culture and Christianity are the opposite of same-sex marriage in Taiwan. Finally, it will infer the grand narrative of sexual orientation in Taiwan and discuss the changing narrative of same-sex relationships.
Grand narrative, also known as metanarrative or master-narrative, is a term used by Lyotard in his notable work “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge” (1979). According to Lyotard, cited in Taylor and Winquist (2001), grand narrative is a story which could legitimate itself and lead to conformity in society, for instance, Marxism, Capitalism and Christianity, these narratives provide their own meaning and truth, it also supplies a ‘framework’ and involve all other cultural narratives can adapt it. This is an idea whereby dominant discourse spreads across society or a big story that can explain everything in the community, and people tend to follow without doubts (Sim 1998: 8). In the postmodern period, Lyotard argues that people no longer rely on grand narratives, ‘I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives’(1984: xxiv), he argues that grand narrative is not to be admired but instead it will be disintegrated by ‘little narrative’, which is composed by a small group of people who have specific goal (Sim 1998). However, I maintain that the grand narrative of sexual orientation in Taiwan seems not collapsed and still lasts right now.
The hegemony of heterosexuality seems to have dominated worldwide until recent years, it appears in diverse ways such as religion, family, laws, and media. According to Pew Research Center (2019), there are only 29 countries that possessed legal recognition of same-sex marriage which means most countries in the world maintain the opposite attitude for the LGBT. In Taiwan, major citizens’ perspectives considerably harbour suspicions on same-sex marriage, I suggest that one of the greatest reasons is tradition of Chinese culture, which presents the conventional concepts that ‘Family existence is for produce a babies who could carry someone’s name’, ‘Marriage just for male and female’, and this ideology resembles engrave in certain generation. In addition, family is an important basis in Chinese culture but is also could restrict the emergence of LGBT, the core value of Chinese family could be considered as ‘Filial piety’ which in Hanyu Pinyin calls ‘xiao shun’, this word in most clarifications which mean that children should devote themselves to their parents, be respectful, be faithful and not against their wishes, it implies the duty of children in Chinese culture. As stated in Martin (2003: 121), the principal work of the Chinese family is the succession to the ‘paternal surname’ and it also is a part of the ‘xiao’, this ideology is indeed existed in contemporary Taiwan and had negative influences on homosexuality. For example, Gu Minlun, cited in Martin (2003), referred that:
“The parent’s generation’s financial and emotional investment will be repaid in the form of the children’s feelings towards the parents. … Any deviation from this form breaks the rules of behaviour specified by the contract, is ‘unfilial’, the ‘greatest offence’ and very unfortunately, ‘being homosexual’ is one way of breaking the contract.” (2003: pp.121-122)
Consequently, it is obvious that the ideology of Chinese culture seems to have been dominated, most individuals follow this grand tradition in Taiwan and pass on countless generations. However, in this term of grand narrative, children who are different sexual orientations from heterosexuality would appear severe confusion between the self-identification and role of family, and it also deepens the difficulty of ‘coming up of the closet’. I believed that the narrative ‘xiao’ has a positive and negative side, it is a virtue of Chinese culture whereas it ignores every human being are the independent individuals, either child.
Christianity is a grand narrative that has appreciable influence in the world. Demonstrated by Pew Research Center (2015), Christianity is the largest religious group in recent years and has over 2 billion followers. In Taiwan, Christianity is not a mainstream religion in which it possesses multiple religions and cultures. Nevertheless, Christian Churches seem still have great power in society and some civil groups are strongly supported by the Christians, also, Christianity was permeated into the politics and business. For instance, anti-same-sex marriage groups in Taiwan such as “Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for Family Protection” and “Faith and Hope League”, which have close-knit relationships with Christians (Ho 2016). As Chen and Wang (2010: 403) suggested that ‘Christian Church in Taiwan is extremely adept at using nonreligious values and the traditional views of the local people to promote itself.’ Meanwhile, they expanded their authority to politics. It could find consistency with another argument by Victoria (2015: 159), the anti-gay groups in Taiwan appear big capability than the LGBT movement, and former is close to the politicians, it is a plight for LGBT. Explore in more detail, it is surely that reason for homosexual has been refused which connects with Christian beliefs and their own narratives, they believe the Bible is the sacred text, which is a word of God; most of them followed this holy text without suspicion. However, some contents in the Bible appear opposition to homosexuality, ‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.’ (Leviticus 20:13). In addition, number of Christians had seriously against the same-sex marriage which is noted in Locke’s (2005: 145) work, Christians like Schmidt, Hays, and Stott interpreted the Genesis’ (the first book of Bible) passages, one of them argued that “Since homoerotic behaviour falls outside of these four biblical affirmations regarding sex and marriage, it is sinful and must be rejected by all Christians.” (Schmidt 1997). While these discourses were stated by certain Christians, I believe that it is undeniable fact that similar narratives frustrate the LGBT groups in society. Back to Taiwan, I argue that the grand narrative of Christianity spread extensively and persuade the public to conform with the ‘framework’ in society, we could see the number of comments and advertisements show up on mass media by Christians, they cited the Bible and interpreted in a specific way. Moreover, they used ‘family value’ to decorate their idea and strongly exert this value to influence the public, and it has coincided Chen and Wang (2010) said, they are adroit to do that.
In conclusion, LGBT could not be extensively acknowledged in Taiwan due to these two grand narratives of Chinese culture and Christianity. The grand discourses appear in many places like news, social media, and superiors who from well-known groups or administration, sometimes the importance of this discourse will be exaggerated to the public, and ignorant rhetoric may be conveyed by certain legislators and civil groups today. I argue that perfect integration of Christianity with Chinese culture is a key that nearly dominates the social atmosphere in Taiwan, thus same-sex marriage is seen as wishful thinking in public discourse; though the legalisation of same-sex marriage is an important step for LGBT rights, there is still opposition throughout Taiwan. However, it is worth noting that people who are against same-sex marriage generally composed of an older generation, and many of the younger generation no longer fully accept the grand narrative. I truly believe that the grand narrative of sexual orientation will have a significant change in the future, same-sex marriage is just a starting point, tolerant society still has a long path to go, but the dominance of the grand narrative will have weakened, the future in Taiwan and the world would be better.