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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Examining Cultural Discourses in Taiwanese Gender and Sexual Minority/Tongzhi Family-of-Origin Relationships


With Taiwan’s same-sex marriage bill advancing, LGBTQ/tongzhi Taiwanese are rejoicing in the progress being made but have become exhausted in combating protests from their opponents. They also must reconcile conflicts with their families of origin stemming from discrepant expectations regarding life, family, marriage, and so on. To understand this reconciliation process, scholars must investigate how the discrepant expectations are formed. Using critical discourse analysis to analyze interview data, field observation, and cultural texts, this article identifies three sets of discourses: heteronormativity/homonormativity, patriarchy, and compulsory marriage. In Taiwan, heteronormativity manifests in the term zhengchang (正常, normal, sane, regular), which stipulates that human beings are heterosexual; homonormativity is an assimilation of heteronormative ideals into tongzhi culture and identity. Patriarchy includes a patrilineal and patrilocal system that organizes Taiwanese daily life. Compulsory marriage accentuates how marriage operates as an imperative, unavoidable, and prescribed force in Taiwanese culture that banishes and punishes tongzhi for their unsuitability for the heteronormative/homonormative patriarchal marriage. Responding to the call for more studies outside the U.S.-Western European contexts, the author of this article sheds light on cultural discourses that help shape the discrepant expectations, and the findings help LGBTQ/tongzhi studies in other cultures to develop contextualized theorization. Keywords: Taiwan, LGBTQ family communication, heteronormativity, homonormativity, patriarchy, compulsory marriage, tongzhi

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