從1個人到25萬人 祁家威的同志運動長跑
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接過祁家威的名片,最先看到是佔去半張名片的「祁家威」三個大字,下面才用小字印著他的英文名字及行動電話,沒有公司行號、沒有職業也沒有稱號,大部分的媒體提到他時,總無法用一個固定頭銜來稱呼他。
祁家威何許人?「知名同性戀者」、「全台第一個出櫃男同志」、「資深愛滋志工」及「資深同運人士」,全都是媒體給他的稱號。不像多數社會運動者往往有社運組織中的幹部職稱,成群結隊地上街倡議,沒有職稱的祁家威總是一個人參加同志大遊行。每年同志大遊行,都能看到他站在制高點上,奮力揮舞著手中巨大的彩虹旗。

那年,他為自己辦了一場記者會

1986年,28歲的祁家威召開一場國際記者會,公告自己的性傾向,成為全台灣第1位出櫃的同性戀者。據祁家威描述,這場記者會辦在麥當勞,吸引了美聯社、路透社、法新社等海外媒體,問祁家威當初如何聯絡國內外媒體,他露出一副「這沒什麼」的神態,認真地描述如何為自己辦一場記者會。
「到松江路中央通訊社它有一個信箱嘛,每個信箱我就丟通知,那時候還沒有捷運的年代,我就在麥當勞辦,麥當勞店長很生氣,反正我點了20杯果汁有付錢嘛,但是有閃光燈在那邊她就很不爽,希望我以後不要在那邊辦了。」
不喜歡跟著團體行動的祁家威,從1980年代便是一個人。除了這場「一人記者會」外,他一個人四處尋找愛滋病感染者、一個人在街頭為愛滋病募款、一個人擔任熱線接同志諮詢電話,並一個人默默地打官司聲請違憲,整個人儼然就是一部「台灣同志史」。
許多人對祁家威的印象停留在1990年代的各大夜市。當時,他為愛滋病防治募款而輪流駐站不同夜市;為了吸引路人注意,他脖子上掛著募款箱,有時扮成童話人物、有時扮成木乃伊,有時全身掛滿保險套,屢次登上新聞版面。不過,男同志身分加上過於瘦削的身材,以及愛滋病防治志工等名號,讓許多路人避之唯恐不及。
「我記得那時候在通化夜市,看到就覺得說是他,但馬上下意識的反應是:等一下假裝沒事不要看他,走過去這樣子。」同志諮詢熱線社工主任鄭智偉回憶起第一次看到祁家威的情形,那時才就讀國小的他已明確知道自己的性傾向,也知道祁家威的男同志身分,但因為擔心被家人發現,只能故作鎮定,假裝對祁家威一點感覺都沒有。
「我覺得有兩種意義,一個是你知道他是同志,另一個意義是,你知道媒體是用很不好的方法在寫他,就把他寫得有點像一個怪人這樣子,」鄭智偉說。
媒體筆下的祁家威反映出當時社會對同性戀者不友善的態度,不只還是少年的鄭智偉感受到了,其他更多的同志也接收到了;對許多活在櫃子中的痛苦人們來說,只有祁家威能了解他們的感受。
「熱線成立之前,我的電話就是諮商電話,我不用掛上去喔,我只要點一下,後面那通就stand by進來的。」祁家威說,自從在媒體上公布電話開始,每天都接到大批同志朋友打來的電話,甚至就連當時震驚社會的北一女學生林青慧及石濟雅自殺事件,在事發的前一天也曾打給祁家威,「我真的沒想到最後會發生這種事情,不然就再多勸她一點了⋯⋯」面對逝去的生命,祁家威懊悔地說。
如同鄭智偉描述,「第一個同性戀者」祁家威當時被媒體刻劃為一個怪人,但在那個保守年代,祁家威或許也是夠怪,才能力抗整個社會的不友善,持續著一個人的同運。

這條「沒有阻力」的同運路

「阻力?在我面前沒有出現阻力,別人沒有(我)這種功力的都碰到阻力了。」被問到在那個時代做同志運動是否碰到阻力,祁家威明快地給了個否定的答案,似乎很疑惑怎麼會有這種問題。
隨著同運的興盛,祁家威已不再是新聞的焦點人物,但在各個同運場合中,仍能看到他靜靜地站在角落看著活動進行,就像是活動的守護者。
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祁家威在「下一代幸福家庭聯盟」舉辦的活動穿上彩虹衣表達立場。(攝影/吳逸驊)
祁家威在「下一代幸福家庭聯盟」舉辦的活動穿上彩虹衣表達立場。(攝影/吳逸驊)
問他為什麼每場記者會都出現,他笑說自己是來「護航」的,「因為有些媒體會提一些比較尖酸的問題,你要知道我的功力,我是專門對付這種問題的。」
祁家威記得,某次他被一位大報記者問了「你是零號、一號?」這個失禮的問題,大多數人面對這種來意不善的問題都會先愣住半秒,但祁家威腦筋一轉,回了「配合你阿,我都可以,」瞬間讓那個記者不再說話。
還有一次,祁家威在夜市募款時,一位帶著漂亮女人及隨扈的黑道大哥對他說「祁先生你很了不起,很可惜你是⋯⋯」雖然黑道大哥沒把話說完,但祁家威知道對方是衝著自己的性傾向而來,他不慌不忙地說,「大哥,你這輩子中都跟女生在一起,我說我這輩子都只跟男人在一起;你是女人中的男人,而我是男人中的男人。」大哥聽了,臉上一陣青一陣白,向祁家威鞠躬道歉就走了。
談起如何活得如此瀟灑自信,祁家威回憶起剛開始進行同志運動時,曾去向他很崇拜的一位高中老師請益,說完自己的處境及規劃後,問老師有哪些需要注意的,老師僅說「你的信心不夠。」祁家威不信,又連忙再追問了兩次,都得到「你信心不夠」的回答,這讓他知道,只有增加更多信心,路才走得下去。
儘管祁家威認為那個時代「沒有阻力」,但至今他仍不敢使用臉書及網路通訊軟體,不斷說著自己的手機已遭國安局監聽,擔憂更多資料遭到竊取,深深的不安全感,便是那個時代在祁家威身上留下的印記。

永遠的酷兒先鋒

今年10月,祁家威獲頒第一屆酷摩莎「酷兒先鋒獎」。「先鋒」在教育部國語辭典上的解釋是「泛指一切事物的開創者或領先者」,在同運這條路上,踽踽獨行的祁家威確實是個名副其實的先鋒。
領獎的當天,他身著紅色西裝、披著一面巨大的彩虹披風上場,臉上滿是驕傲。受獎後接受採訪,他提及某次參加彩虹路跑時忘了染髮,一頭白髮的模樣引來新聞社學生採訪,對方問他「老伯伯你是陪孫子來嗎?」他一時間不知該怎麼回答,接受完採訪完後才善意提醒對方「你最好還是上網Google一下」,隔天便接到對方的道歉電話。隨著時代的演進,認識這位資深同志的人,似乎也越來越少。
今年12月10日,因婚姻平權立法事宜的紛紛擾擾,在凱道舉辦的婚姻平權音樂會吸引了25萬人參加,祁家威站在舞台旁的樹上舉了一下午的彩虹旗,只為了讓自己手上的彩虹旗依舊是25萬人中「最高的」。
一個人在樹上孤單嗎?原想問他的話,到了嘴邊又吞了回去。
電影《阿甘正傳》中,男主角阿甘因為失戀展開了一個人的長跑,跑著跑著,猛然停下腳步時,發現身後已是滿滿的追隨者;祁家威也是,一個人在同運這條路上跑著跑著,不知不覺身後的人多了,一個人的慢跑默默長成了25萬人的長長隊伍。
或許,在樹上的那一刻,是這30年走來,他最不孤單的一刻。
🄴🄽

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From A 1 Person March To 250,000 Strong: Chi Chia-Wei’s LGBT-Rights Marathon

The first thing you see on Chi’s business card is his Chinese name printed in bold letters, occupying half the space. That’s followed by his English name and phone number in smaller print. There is no company phone number, nor any mention of a profession or job title. When his name appears in media, journalists often have a hard time attributing a fixed term to what he does.
Who is Chi Chia-wei (祁家威)? The media has attempted to assign him a myriad of titles: “famous gay person”, “the first openly gay Taiwanese person”, “senior AIDS assistance and prevention volunteer” and “senior LGBT activist”. Unlike other participants in the LGBT movement, who are often senior members of an organization and throng the street in groups, Chi, whose versatile identity refuses to be adequately described by a single title, attends pride parades on his own. Each year, Chi stands out from the multitude by waving his huge signature rainbow flag.

The year he held his own press conference 

In 1986, the 28-year-old Chi held an international press conference announcing his sexual orientation, making him the first publicly gay Taiwanese person. Chi says that despite the press conference being crammed into a McDonald’s, it attracted reporters from many overseas news outlets, including the Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP.
I asked how Chi came in touch with these domestic and foreign media. Chi, with an expression that seems to say “it’s not a big deal,” explained how he arranged his one-person-press conference.
“There’s a mailbox for Taiwan’s Central News Agency on Songjiang Road. I threw notifications in every single one of them. Taipei didn’t have the MRT system yet, so I decided to hold it at a McDonald’s. I bought 20 cups of fruit juice, but the manager was quite unhappy because of the flashlights and asked me to stop holding it.”
Seldom enthused by collective group action, Chi has been on his own since the 1980s. He would search out for AIDS victims in Taiwan, and then raise funds for them on the streets. He’s also worked as an LGBT consultation hotline operator, and quietly fought against unconstitutional actions in court. Chi is the very embodiment of Taiwan’s LGBT history.
Many people in Taiwan remember him strolling through night markets in the 1990s, collecting funds for AIDS treatment and prevention. To attract attention, he hung a donation box from his neck, and dressed up as cartoon figures, mummies, and once in an outfit made of condoms.
He garnered short-lived attention through a number of news headlines, but because of his identity, thin frame and profession as an AIDS prevention volunteer, he was greeted with averted heads by passersby. “I remembered, in Tonghua Night Market, people walking by briskly and pretending not to see me,” says Chi.
Cheng Chih-wei (鄭智偉), director of volunteer services at the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association (同志諮詢熱線), remembers the first time he met Chi in elementary school. Cheng was already fully aware of Chi’s sexual orientation, as well as his own. But out of fear of being found out by his family, Cheng pretended not to hold any feelings towards Chi.
“It all boiled down to two factors. First, he’s gay. Second, the media was portraying him in a negative light, as if he was some kind of weirdo,” said Cheng.
The less-than-friendly media portrayals of Chi were not only perceived by the young Cheng, but also by other members of Taiwan’s LGBT community. For those who lead a painful life in the closet, only Chi truly understood how they felt.
"Before the creation of the hotline, I used my personal number for consultation purposes. I didn’t have to pick up the call manually, through a single click, I could connect calls that were previously on hold,” says Chi. After announcing his consultation line to the public, he received a large number of calls from troubled gays and lesbians, every single day.
In 1994, he received phone calls from two high school girls, Lin Ching-hui (林青慧) and Shih Chi-ya (石濟雅). Lin and Shih attented Taiwan’s most prestigious girls’ high school, Taipei First Girls' High School (北一女). Shortly after their call to Chi, both girls committed suicide, shocking Taiwanese society.  “I really did not expect this kind of tragedy to happen, or else I would have tried harder to persuade them,” laments Chi.
Just like Cheng previously described, in an era of conservatism, “the first gay person in Taiwan” was often depicted as a weirdo in the media. Or perhaps it is his very “weirdness” that allowed him to resist society’s apathy and carry on his marathon-like run of activism for so long.
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Photo courtesy of Wu Yi-huah.
Photo courtesy of Wu Yi-huah.

A marathon without resistance

“Resistance? I encountered no resistance. But those who are less experienced are not so lucky.” When being asked if he has faced opposition in his career as an activist, Chi quickly gives a negative answer, as if such an assumption is unthinkable.
As LGBT activism flourishes in Taiwan, Chi is no longer the centre of focus in the news. Still, at many LGBT movement events, Chi can be seen watching the bustling scene in the corner like a quiet guardian.
I ask him why he attends every single news conference. He laughs and says he is acting as an “air convoy.”
“Some reporters ask really scathing questions. With my experience, I can tackle them,” he says.
Chi remembers one instance when a journalist from a major publication asked if he was a “top or bottom.” When confronted with such an improper question, many people would be stunned for half a second. Chi answered the question with a witty twist, “I can be both, whatever suits you.” The reporter didn’t say anything more.
Once, a gang member with his pretty girlfriend approached Chi while he was fundraising in the night market. “I respect you, Mr. Chi, but it is a pity that you are …” The sentence was left unfinished. Chi knew his question was directed at his sexual orientation. He replied calmly, “Brother, you spent your whole life with women, whereas I spent my whole life with men. You are a man among women, while I am a man among men.” After the gangster heard Chi’s reply, he bowed, apologized, then left.
When asked about his secret to living with confidence and ease, Chi recalls when he first took part in activism. After explaining his circumstances and plans to a respected high school teacher, Chi asked for advice on what to pay attention to. The teacher said, “you are lacking in confidence.” After repeating the questions several times in disbelief and getting the same answer, Chi was convinced that he can only continue on this path with a more confident attitude.
Although Chi claims there was little opposition two decades ago, he refuses to use a Facebook account or use other social media. He repeatedly mentions that his phone is being monitored by the National Security Bureau. Worried that his personal information would be stolen, and a profound sense of insecurity, Chi bears the marking of Taiwan’s authoritarian period.

The Eternal Queer Pioneer

In October 2016, Chi won the first “Queer Pioneer Award,” by Taiwanese organization Queermosa. In the Chinese dictionary by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, pioneer is defined as a founder or leader of things. As for gay activism, Chi is the veritable pioneer on his own solitary path. During the award ceremony, Chi was clad in a red suit and a huge rainbow clock, with his face full of pride.
Shortly after the ceremony, Chi participated in the Taipei Pride run. Forgetting to dye his hair, with his white hair coming through, a news agency intern asked him, “grandpa, are you here to accompany your grandchild?” Chi was wordless for a moment, but kindly reminded them to Google him after the interview. The next day, he received a phone call, and an apology. As time moves forward, less and less people know about this pioneering activist.
On December 10th, due to the impact of recent movements to legalize same-sex marriage, the Marriage Equality Concert held on Ketagalan Boulevard attracted more than 250,000 attendees. Holding up a rainbow flag, Chi stood on a tree next to the stage for the entire afternoon, just so his flag was the highest among the 250,000.
Aren’t you lonely on that tree? I was tempted to ask, but at the end, I swallowed back my question.
Being rejected by his love interest, Forrest Gump begins his one-person-marathon in pursuit of a better life. He runs and runs. When he comes to a stop, a crowd of followers is tracing his step. The same goes for Chi, who has run a marathon for LGBT activism, unaccompanied since the beginning. At the end, his 1-person-jog turns into a 250,000 person-relay.
Perhaps, in these 30 years, standing on that tree has been his least loneliest moment.
More English reads, please click here.

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