by Joaquin Arroyo
I was born in Madrid a long time ago, when words like “gay” or “lesbian” were unknown, but I realized almost in infancy that I was not like most of the other guys: I liked to hang out with them and, if possible, have one in bed all to myself.
Unfortunately, when the other guys started dating girls, I was at a loss. I thought I was quite unique, and I used up all my time studying, learning languages, traveling… and trying to find out what to do with a sex life that seemed condemned to remain mostly in my head. I read a lot, but was not very savvy in world matters.
I was becoming quite desperate when I landed in Taipei in 1970 with a scholarship to study Chinese and was housed in a student dorm. The place was not very comfortable: four to a room, common showers, hard beds, and so on, but there were some interesting people, Chinese as well as foreigners. Most of them were nevertheless quite serious, not very friendly and appeared to be very busy. I became more desperate, and I started some personal investigation among the Chinese to find out if there were some people like me in the city. It was horribly embarrassing, I questioned them as if I were doing academic research, believing that they knew something because they were locals, but I only encountered puzzled stares… “Is that possible?”, “Do such people exist?” One of them clearly stated with distaste: “There are no people like that here.”
I had lost all hope, when I got to know a steward from China Airlines who came to visit a friend in the dorm once in a while. He spoke excellent English and appeared to be quite open and worldly, so I threw all my restraints apart and asked him directly: “Is it true that there are no homosexuals in China?” He looked at me, very amused, and said, “Are you one?”, and I said I was. “Okay, then I’ll pick you up on Sunday at 6 p.m.” I was dumbfounded, because he had implied he was gay, too! That Sunday we took a taxi to a big house in the suburbs, and he explained that a lot of the action in Taipei took place in these secluded villas: a Swiss executive rented the house and organized very exclusive all male parties. The man opened the door in person, seemed glad to meet the steward and showed us into a big salon where there were thirty or forty people having drinks, dancing and petting.
After a few seconds of dazzlement I was able to see clearly and then… well, most of the foreigners and some of the Chinese of my dorm were there also! One of them spotted me, smiled and said to another one: “I told you he was gay, too”. Afterwards, I assure you I had a fun time on the island.
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